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Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite
Necessary Sins (Lazare Family Saga, Book 1) by Elizabeth Bell is an exceptionally well-researched historical fiction novel encompassing the early years and life of Joseph Lazare. Growing up in Charleston, young Joseph has always believed his complexion is from his Spanish grandmother. However, as a youth on the cusp of becoming a young adult, Joseph discovers he’s actually part African. In the times before the Civil War, this could be a very dangerous piece of information, if revealed. However, Joseph believes he has a higher calling—to God. With his blessing and the knowledge of Joseph’s true heritage, the local Bishop encourages Joseph to attend seminary school in Rome. Yet, when Joseph returns, he is blindsided by a young woman, Tessa. Joseph finds his faith and calling challenged in a way he never thought possible.
This is the first time I have read anything by this author, and it certainly won’t be the last. It has been a good while since I’ve found a historical novel I can really sink my teeth into. The research put into Necessary Sins by Elizabeth Bell is thorough, especially in regard to the Catholic church. I felt immersed in the setting, as well as swept up in Joseph’s emotional trials. I appreciated that the novel didn’t focus solely on religion, but more on how Joseph was tested as a character. It made for a very enjoyable read. I will definitely be looking out for the sequel, as I’m very excited to find out what happens to Joseph and Tessa.