By the Light of Embers by Shaylin Gandhi

By the Light of Embers by Shaylin Gandhi
Publisher: Briar Rose Publishing
Genre: Historical, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full (382 pgs)
Heat: spicy
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Poppy

It’s 1954, and twenty-two-year-old Lucia Lafleur has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. While sock hops and poodle skirts occupy her classmates, she dreams of bacteria and broken bones—and the day she’ll finally fix them.

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With fractured hopes, she returns home to Louisiana, expecting nothing of the summer of ’54 but sweet tea and gumbo while she agonizes over her impending choice. There, she unexpectedly befriends Nicholas, a dark-skinned poet whose dignity and intellect are a salve to her aching heart. Their bond, initially forged from a shared love of literature, soon blossoms into something as bewitching as it is forbidden.

Yet her predicament deepens when a trivial misunderstanding between a local white woman and a black man results in a brutal lynching, and the peril of love across the color lines becomes chillingly real. Now, fulfilling her lifelong dream means relinquishing her heart—and escaping Louisiana alive.

Heart-warming, heart-rending and amazingly well written, By the Light of Embers is a book I recommend whole-heartedly to any lover of fiction, regardless of the genre you typically read. Trust me, this book was outside of my comfort zone for a variety of reasons but I was completely intrigued by the blurb, so just had to check it out, even knowing it likely wasn’t going to end well (or at least not in the way I wanted it to end).

The author, Shaylin Gandhi, is remarkably talented. Her prose is beautiful, descriptive, and not one word is ever wasted.  The story is believable and interesting, peppered with authentic historical facts brought alive by characters we really care about.  I really came to care deeply about Lucia, Nicholas and also Sebastian.  The other secondary characters we just as real and well written, but it was those three who mattered most to me.

It’s easy to forget that the Civil Rights Act wasn’t signed into law that long ago.  I had to keep reminding myself we were in the 1950s, not the 1850s because of the attitudes of the people in the book.  Women’s rights, too, were really in their infancy and having such a modern-minded woman like Lucia was enlightening.

I don’t want to talk too much about the story.  Even small tidbits might give away spoilers and that wouldn’t be fair to you as a reader.  I will say this, though, do yourself a favor and read this book.  I don’t think you’ll regret one moment of it.


  1. James Robert says

    Thank you for sharing your book with us. I always look forward to finding out about another great read.

  2. Thanks for hosting!

  3. Bernard Wallace says

    How many drafts did the story go through before it was published?

    • Shaylin Gandhi says

      Great question! I lost count!! ? This was my first novel, and when I finished the first draft, I realized I had waaaaaay too many words at 160k. I went through a dozen or so edits to get it down to 110k. Still too long. Then I had the help of some really amazing beta readers and editors who taught me a lot about writing tightly. After that, I queried agents, and the one I ended up signing with requested a revision and wanted the word count reduced. So that was another major rewrite, but the story was so much stronger with her suggestions incorporated! Ultimately, I published independently, but I’ll always be grateful to her for helping the story realize it’s full potential.

  4. Mya Murphy says

    Oh wow!!! I love historical romance, and this sounds excellent!! I can’t wait to read this!!

  5. Shaylin Gandhi says

    Thanks for the wonderful review and for hosting!!

  6. Rita Wray says

    Sounds like a good book.

  7. Victoria says

    I’ll definitely be reading this one!

  8. Great review

  9. Cool cover! The story looks very interesting. It makes me feel old that this story is considered “historical”

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