The second book of Beth White's Gulf Coast Chronicles starts at the commencement of the American Revolution. Mobile, West Florida, is under British control, and Lyse Lanier is best friends with the British Major's daughter. When Lyse encounters Don Rafael, a dashing Spaniard, she finds herself falling for his charm. But is he all he says he is? Spain has been neutral since the war started, but with their own spies about, they probably will not remain neutral forever . . .
I am once again astonished at the complex history of the Gulf Coast. Suffice to say, I do not recall ever hearing anything about the significant (and rather sneaky) role Spain played in the American Revolution. This is why I love historical novels - they capture the details that history classes so often miss, provoking interest so that I want to learn more.
The author does a great job of tying in the racial complexities that had already developed over seventy-five years of colonization, along with the inevitable prejudices that arose with it. Between the Native Americans, European colonizers (a mixture of French, British, and Spanish), and an already well-developed slave trade, racial backgrounds could get quite intricate. I especially liked how well the author ties the concept of slavery versus freedom in with the Declaration of Independence and its effect on Lyse, a woman of mixed blood.
While many novels take place over a short period of time for the sake of cohesiveness, I like that this novel spans several years. The Spanish needed time to gather intelligence and provide support for their secret allies before officially declaring a side, and this novel does a good job of showing the time and work that went into it. The timing is also good for the romance - Lyse has a chance to grow up a bit more and establish a relationship with Rafa, even if they only see each other every few months or so. In spite of all the time that passes, the story does not move too quickly or too slowly - it is well paced.
White takes a little-known bit of history and combines it with an intriguing plot to create a complex story well worth re-reading.
Thank you Revell for providing a free book for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
Gulf Coast Chronicles
1. The Pelican Bride
2. The Creole Princess
3. The Magnolia Duchess