French, finally! It seems nearly all of the historical books I read are set in England or the United States with a British flavor. Not that I’m complaining – but sometimes I’d like to read something a bit different.
From the back cover:
Life in This New World Requires More Strength Than She Ever Imagined
After the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier is imprisoned and branded, marking her as a criminal beyond redemption. Hoping to reunite with her brother, a soldier, she trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling French colony of Louisiana. The price of her transport, however, is a forced marriage to a fellow convict.
New Orleans is nothing like Julianne expects. The settlement is steeped in mud and mosquitoes, and there is no news of her brother, Benjamin. When tragedy strikes, she turns to military officer Marc-Paul Girard for help, but does he know more about her brother than he will admit?
With her dreams shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous land, where only grace–and love–can overcome the stigma of the king’s mark upon her shoulder.
What I thought of the book:
This book starts off without a hesitation. Julianne Chevalier is very likable, and I found myself wanting to keep reading. And keep reading! She is convicted of the murder of her client, which shakes her confidence to the core. Sent to La Salpêtrière, a prison mainly for prostitutes and a place to dump the destitute, Julianne begins to lose hope of ever leaving.
At the same time, King Louis XV of France wanted New France, of which Louisiana was a part, to flourish. For this to happen, it needed to be populated by good Frenchmen. The Mississippi Company paid for prostitutes at La Salpêtrière, forced them to marry convicts, and shipped them across the ocean to the New World. Julianna, desperate to find her younger brother, a soldier in Louisiana, begs to be a part of this group – and is horrified when she discovers they are being forced to wed complete strangers.
Marc-Paul Girard had wished for a life in the church, but his father chose a military life for him instead. His personality urges him to follow the letter of the law, even when mercy (and a bit of common sense, in my opinion) would be a much better choice. His past actions haunt him in ways I won’t reveal, but while reading the book I wondered how he would reconcile himself to some of them.
This is not a sweet, rosy romance where the man and woman are attracted to each other, but must overcome a hurdle before living happily ever after. This is a historical novel with grit, dark turns, and raw life of the early 18th Century in a near-lawless frontier. It will have you turning pages well past the time you should have been asleep, and might keep you from getting laundry done on time. But how worth it!
I will be on the lookout for more of Jocelyn Green’s novels now.
**I was sent this copy from Bethany House in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.**