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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Sun Kissed by Diaris Marie Jones is a powerful, exquisitely written historical novel of two families in post-Civil War New Orleans. Great literature reveals the unrevealed, and Ms. Jones’ astounding account opens our eyes to the unique race culture in its rising disrepair. The rules divided descendants of mixed-race couples according to the percentage of African blood compared to European. Evelyn Beauchamps, the protagonist of Sun Kissed, is one-quarter black, a “Quadroon,” and granted the highest privileges of mixed-race women. She was permitted to “mate” with a white and bear his children. Evelyn has three children with Simon, a white plantation owner, who has separated from his wife Patricia. She stayed behind in France after Simon’s emigration to Louisiana. The story traces the lives of Simon, his legal son Simonette, Evelyn, her three children, and Patricia who decides to leave Paris to rejoin her husband after twenty years and is unaware of her husband’s American relationships.
Besides revealing Antebellum Quadroon social structure in New Orleans, Sun Kissed vibrates with rich characters, vivid scenes—of both joy and horror—beautiful settings, and a mind-bending plot. Simon’s wife has some rude awakenings waiting for her on his profitable plantation. The whole of society is reeling from the war and the new laws. Yet, life in all its deep turmoil proceeds. Evelyn must do the best for her offspring. She must achieve self-respect and independence as the powerful force she is. Justice must be served and love fulfilled. The plot and character development of Sun Kissed are masterfully managed by first-time author Diaris Marie Jones. But most astounding is the transcendent beauty of Ms. Jones’ prose—unafraid, poetic, engaging, musical, and deeply moving. Thank you for Sun Kissed, Diaris Marie Jones. Your debut novel is a triumph!