Earlier this month, I was sent a copy of The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White to read and review, thanks to Revell Books.
Since the publishers are far better at writing blurbs than I am, this is what they say:
Fiona Lanier is the only woman in the tiny Gulf Coast settlement of Navy Cove. While her shipbuilding family races to fill the demand for American ships brought by the War of 1812, Fiona tries to rescue her brother who was forced into service by the British Navy.
Lieutenant Charlie Kincaid has been undercover for six months, obtaining information vital to the planned British invasion of New Orleans. When a summer storm south of Mobile Bay wrecks his ship and scatters the crew, Charlie suffers a head injury, ultimately collapsing in the arms of a beautiful mermaid who seems eerily familiar. As Charlie’s memory returns in agonizing jags and crashes, he and Fiona discover that falling in love may be as inevitable as the tide. But when political loyalties begin to collide, they’ll each have to decide where their true heart lies.
What did I think of the story?
Even though this is the third in a series called the Gulf Coast Chronicles, it was very easy to follow along. I had no problem learning the characters’ relationships with one another. If you haven’t read the first two books, like I haven’t, don’t worry! This book is its own story.
I’m a history geek and I attend a fair each year set during the War of 1812. That really helped me envision what was taking place. If you’re not that familiar with it, just think Pride and Prejudice and you’re pretty close. Now, for all that I love history, I knew next to nothing about how the war extended into New Orleans and Pensacola. The Magnolia Duchess opened that up for me without being confusing or feeling like I was in a classroom.
The relationship between Fiona and Charlie seemed almost modern. Maybe it was because Fiona acted the tomboy so often and Charlie never seemed to raise an eyebrow at this. Granted, they had known each other years before, but Fiona being a tomboy in her childhood is one thing. A young lady donning masculine clothes and acting more like Annie Oakley would have been a different matter. Yes, it is her character and it’s understandable why she is that way, but Charlie’s reaction just fell a bit flat for me.
As hard as I tried, I never cared that much for Charlie, either. There was a certain strength lacking in him, at least for me. He would be adamant about his duty – returning to his ship and the naval service. Then he would turn about and try to figure out how to stay with Fiona. Things he did and said sometimes were incongruent. It was as though there were two different characters made into one.
Two secondary characters, however, completely caught my attention: Desi and Maddy. They both feel as though they have walked straight out of the time period. Maddy is strong but still very much the lady, and Desi is intelligent and a man whose presence you can feel, even through the pages of a book. I couldn’t help but wish at some points that these two had their own book as well.
Over all, I did enjoy this book. It was a good, easy read, and the story held my interest. I’ll definitely look for the first two books of this series.
I was sent this pre-release copy from Revell Books in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.