Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Outer Banks House: Review and Giveaway!

Publication Date: June 8, 2010
Crown Publishing
Formats: Ebook, Paperback, Hardcover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance


As the wounds of the Civil War are just beginning to heal, one fateful summer would forever alter the course of a young girl’s life.

In 1868, on the barren shores of post-war Outer Banks North Carolina, the once wealthy Sinclair family moves for the summer to one of the first cottages on the ocean side of the resort village of Nags Head. Seventeen-year-old Abigail is beautiful, book-smart, but sheltered by her plantation life and hemmed-in by her emotionally distant family. To make good use of time, she is encouraged by her family to teach her father’s fishing guide, the good-natured but penniless Benjamin Whimble, how to read and write. And in a twist of fate unforeseen by anyone around them, there on the porch of the cottage, the two come to love each other deeply, and to understand each other in a way that no one else does.

But when, against everything he claims to represent, Ben becomes entangled in Abby’s father’s Ku Klux Klan work, the terrible tragedy and surprising revelations that one hot Outer Banks night brings forth threaten to tear them apart forever.

With vivid historical detail and stunning emotional resonance, Diann Ducharme recounts a dramatic story of love, loss, and coming of age at a singular and rapidly changing time in one of America’s most beautiful and storied communities.

Download the Lost Chapter of The Outer Banks House

What Did I Think  About the Story?

I have to admit that, until very recently, I didn't have much interest in American Civil War history. That changed when I read the phenomenal Sisters of Shiloh (you can read my review HERE) and since then I've been keeping an eye out for any novels that seem to give a unique view into this devastating yet life-changing war that reshaped America as we know it. The Outer Banks House, taking place over the summer of 1868 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is exactly that type of novel, giving the reader a view into the hearts and heads of Southerners on both sides of the newly drawn political and racial lines following this war that pitted brother against brother and tore many families apart.

The story is told from the point of view of both Abigail Sinclair, eldest daughter of a wealthy, prominent and traditional North Carolina family and Benjamin Whimble, local of the Outer Banks whom Abigail agrees to tutor while the Sinclairs spend their first summer at the summer house her father recently built by the ocean in Nags Head. When the two first meet they could not possibly be more different. Abigail has wanted for nothing materially while being raised by somewhat cold and distant parents that expect nothing less than the highest level of decorum and obedience from their intelligent and sometimes willful daughter. Ben, on the other hand, has been raised with very little in the way of luxury (he's never even owned a pair of shoes) and no education as is the way of most of his fellow locals who make their living off the land or sea. Against all odds and expectations they soon become very close and both open the other's eyes to a world they never expected to be a part of.

The Outer Banks House is beautifully written and the lyrical descriptions of the various islands these two explore make it easy to picture the rolling ocean, strong salty winds and the sandy forests. This location also presents an interesting mix of the old Southern ways (racist plantation owners like Abigail's father that still believe in slavery and superiority) and the changes that are still taking root in this post-Civil War world (Outer Bankers have been working side by side with their black compatriots for some time and Roanoke Island has a freedmen's colony on it that was thriving until recently) that I can't imagine taking place anywhere else. North Carolina seems to be that line between the North and South that has people on both sides living together and battling against  the other's views. It is within this strange new world that Abigail can grow into the woman she is meant to be and see just how wrong the beliefs and practices of her family have been.      

While I very much enjoyed both Abigail and Benjamin individually and liked watching how each influenced the other, I didn't really love them as a couple. They just made such a strange pair to me and it was hard to go along with two people falling madly in love with each other so quickly when they are so completely different. For example, it was hard to picture a girl born to such privilege and pampering quite happy to leave that all behind for a one room wooden house with no luxury whatsoever where she would now have to do everything, from cleaning to cooking to, I assume, making her own clothes since they wouldn't have the money to buy any. I'm sure in the grand scheme of things it would be possible, but it just felt too fast and furious to me. Then again, I've never been a big fan of quick and heavy romances so it could just be me :). I have an easier time picturing them as becoming friends that influence and support each other than as romantic partners. The novel also ends with them in a happy yet somewhat unresolved position but I'm sure the sequel will bring readers up to speed on what happened next for these characters (see the blog tour schedule below for blogs that are reviewing the sequel, Return to the Outer Banks House).

This being said, I enjoyed this novel as a whole and really appreciate how the author presented a mixed bag of characters that represented every possible side to this specific time and place in history. I didn't see any author's notes at the end of the book to denote what is actual historical fact and what isn't, but I plan to look further into North Carolina's role during and after the Civil War as I found it a fascinating look at the sentiments of the South after the war ended and the changing tides of the country. It also presented an intriguing look into what it means to be free and what an education means to different people, regardless of gender, race or social status, and the disparity between those that have it readily available and those that crave it.


What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think it is absolutely gorgeous! The cover on my book is a little bit different but is basically the same (woman standing on the dunes in a pretty dress and hat, looking out to the ocean under a beautiful blue sky).  I couldn't keep myself from staring at it and wanting to be in the woman's place by the ocean.

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Outer Banks House in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to continue below for more information about the author, the book, the rest of the blog tour and your chance to win a copy!

Praise for The Outer Banks House


“…There’s real darkness on the edge of this romance that hurls the lovers toward tragedy, as if the price to re-enter the innocence of Eden might afford Abby nothing but despair. This 2010 debut novel and portrayal of the historical Outer Banks offers a terrific option for beach reading; it’s the sort of novel that can be charming without requiring an abundance of character complexity and depth. Abby’s evolution ultimately parallels the positive aspects of how the South reconciled to change after the Civil War, a change that required a culture of ignorance to wash out to sea.”
Style Weekly Review

“It’s 1868, and the natives of North Carolina’s Outer Banks think the Sinclairs’ summer residence on the beach at Nags Head is right peculiar. Seventeen-year-old Abigail Sinclair is enlisted by her parents to teach Ben Whimble, her father’s fishing guide, to read. Abby is being courted by medical student Hector Newman and is appalled at the dirty and perpetually barefoot Ben. But Abby is also restless and slowly sees in Ben more than just a willing pupil. Ben might be getting sweet on his teacher as well, but her father has involved him in a matter that doesn’t sit right with the Banker, knowing that freedmen and runaway slaves have long lived contentedly out on Roanoke Island. It’s just three years since the end of the war, and for some, that isn’t long enough. VERDICT First novelist Ducharme has laced her novel with the sounds and the smells of the North Carolina shoreline. Racism and Southern tradition run along parallel paths in this affecting debut, where gentlemen can be less than honorable and enslavement doesn’t always involve chains. Highly recommended for fans of Southern fiction.” – Bette-Lee Fox — Library Journal, Starred Review

“A heart-felt and engrossing novel about the coming of age of two very different young people in the South just after the Civil War: a curious upper-class girl from an almost bankrupt plantation and a handsome young barefoot fisherman “made of sand and seawater” who comes to her to learn to read. What they learn from each other about tolerance and caring in those turbulent times will change their lives forever. A beautiful sense of this place by the sea, of a country in conflict, of death and redemption, and of new love.” – Stephanie Cowell, Author of CLAUDE & CAMILLE:

“The Outer Banks House is a beautifully written and deeply moving story of a sheltered young woman’s awakening to life, love and the injustice of discrimination against former slaves. In theme and impact, shades of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn; in the evocative setting and fresh voice, a unique novel all its own.” – Karen Harper — Author of THE QUEEN’S GOVERNESS

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble
Crown Publishing

About the Author

Diann was born in Indiana in 1971, but she spent the majority of her childhood in Newport News, Virginia. She majored in English literature at the University of Virginia, but she never wrote creatively until, after the birth of her second child in 2003, she sat down to write The Outer Banks House. She soon followed up with her second book, Chasing Eternity, and in 2015 the sequel to her
first novel, Return to the Outer Banks House.

Diann has vacationed on the Outer Banks since the age of three. She even married her husband of 10 years, Sean Ducharme, in Duck, North Carolina, immediately after a stubborn Hurricane Bonnie churned through the Outer Banks. Conveniently, the family beach house in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina provided shelter while she conducted research for her historical fiction novels.

She has three beach-loving children and a border collie named Toby, who enjoys his sprints along the shore. The family lives in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, counting down the months until summer.

For more information visit Diann Ducharme’s website. You can also follow Diann on her blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Giveaway Time!!

For a chance to win a paperback copy of The Outer Banks House (US only) please enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to enter your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. You can receive extra entries for following me on various social media sites (links on the right hand side bar) just be sure to leave the name you follow under on the giveaway form (I check!). That's it! I  will select a winner on June 16th and email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their mailing address before I have to pick another winner.
Good luck everyone!

The Outer Banks Series Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 25

Spotlight & Giveaway at Raven Haired Girl

Tuesday, May 26

Guest Post & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, May 27

Review (Book One) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, May 28

Review (Book One) at In a Minute

Friday, May 29

Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, May 30

Spotlight at Becky on Books

Sunday, May 31

Review (Book One) at Book Nerd

Monday, June 1

Review (Book Two) at Let them Read Books
Spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Tuesday, June 2

Review (Book One) at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, June 3

Review (Book Two) at Back Porchervations

Thursday, June 4

Spotlight & Giveaway (Book One) at View from the Birdhouse

Friday, June 5

Review (Both Books) at Bibliotica

Sunday, June 7

Review (Book One) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 8

Review (Book One) at Ageless Pages Reviews
Guest Post at Curling Up With A Good Book

Tuesday, June 9

Review & Giveaway (Book One) at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, June 10

Review (Both Books) at Unshelfish
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, June 11

Review (Book Two) at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, June 12

Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, June 14

Review (Book Two) at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, June 15

Review & Giveaway (Both Books) at Genre Queen

Tuesday, June 16

Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, June 17

Review (Both Books) at Luxury Reading

Thursday, June 18

Review (Book One) at Books and Benches
Interview at Layered Pages

Friday, June 19

Review (Book One) at Build a Bookshelf
Review (Book Two) at Ageless Pages Reviews



  1. I enjoyed reading your review. I am a fan of Civil War history so it sounds very good to me. Thank you for sharing

    1. Thank you Angela! I hope you enjoy the book if you get the chance to read it. Good luck if you enter my giveaway :)!

  2. I think it's great that The Sisters of Shiloh has sparked an interest in that time period. And thanks for the reminder, Sisters is on my TBR list!

    1. I know, right?! I just never really had much interest in the history until reading Sister of Shiloh and now I've added a number of different Civil War historical fiction and nonfiction to the good ol' wish list. Especially those dealing with the women who served. Thanks for stopping by :)!

  3. Thanks for your review. I've been following the tour and so far the reviews have been positive. I'm looking forward to reading both books. Thanks for the chance.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Carol! The first book was really good and I imagine the second is as well! If you entered my giveaway good luck :)!

  4. I was supposed to announce my winner yesterday...sorry! Work is CRAZY this week!

    Anyway, this giveaway had the most entries of any I have done so far....53! I'm not sure what I've done differently but hopefully people keep entering like this...I love giving books away!

    The winner of a copy of The Outer Banks House is......Angela Holland!!! Congratulations Angela! I'll send you an email in just a few minutes asking for your full mailing address and you'll have 48 hours to respond before I need to pick another winner.

    Everyone be sure to stay tuned for lots more giveaways! Not only do I have two other giveaways currently going I have more scheduled to go live soon and I'm also thinking of giving some books away myself soon. So stay tuned!