Monday, April 25, 2016

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

What a cover!

Let’s begin with the summary:

As the War of 1812 rages across the newly formed United States, another war rages in Fiona Lanier’s heart—one that threatens to tear her family apart.

Fiona can scarcely take in the news of her brother's capture and imprisonment by the British Navy. It is almost as unbelievable as the half-drowned British sailor who is washed ashore on the beach of Navy Cove.

Charlie Kincaid claims to have no memory of his life before being discovered by Fiona, but in a world that seems saturated with treachery, she cannot be sure he is telling the truth.

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 allegiances collide, they'll each have to decide where their true loyalty lies.

And now, my review:

This is the third book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles series. I felt a little lost because I hadn’t read the earlier two books. When I found this book, I was drawn to the colors on the cover and the promise of romance. I didn’t take into account this was a series book. Some books are more stand-alones, though they are in a series.

The number of POVCs (point-of-view characters) was a bit daunting. I had the feeling these characters were known to series readers, but I was lost. There was some information given with each, but not enough for me to fully bond with the characters. At the same time, I would not have preferred flashbacks. We did get some backstory, which is also not my preference. If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, I recommend doing so before you read this one.

As a historical, this one includes lots and lots of facts. In fact, barely a page went by without many historical details. Several nations are vying for the territory where this novel is set, and I found myself wanting to delve more deeply into the two MCs’ (main characters’) layers rather than getting bogged down. I prefer deeply layered characters and plots. This one focused on several characters (perhaps as a means to tie up loose ends in this series?) and didn’t let us deeply experience any of them.

I also found the story confusing. One of our MCs suffers amnesia (see the summary above) and as we’re in his deep POV, (which I prefer), we get a bit lost because he’s confused. I had to reread a couple of places to see if I’d missed something.

Based on the summary, I thought this would be a romantic journey with plenty of plot and character layers as the hero and heroine fell in love and overcame their obstacles. We get a taste of that, but the historical facts bury us as well. The conflict as to why these two very different people can’t be together was strong and realistic. Well done.

I liked the reference to the American dream—that we can pursue our passions and freely go after our dreams. But overall, I felt I didn’t have enough facts to successfully follow the story. If I had time, I might check out the earlier books, but given the amount of history and lack of deep characterization, I wonder if I’d find the same issues. Readers who enjoy detailed history with their fiction will enjoy this novel.

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