Lynda's Reviews > The Magnolia Duchess

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth  White
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it was amazing
bookshelves: keeper-shelf

Beth White’s books are unique in the inspirational romance market. Her setting and time period, characters, and romance are all something quite different from what a reader might expect but wonderful nevertheless. And from the opening line, I found myself drawn into the book and the plight of the main characters.

The setting is the first thing a reader will notice. As the series title indicates, The Gulf Coast Chronicles is primarily set in this location. Most of the action takes place in Mobile and Navy Cove, though at the end we find our characters immersed in the action around New Orleans. The time period is the War of 1812—I haven’t read many stories that take place during that conflict.

Setting a book during a war automatically sets up some tension, but when one of the main characters is a citizen from the opposing nation, things get a little more intense still. Add in some amnesia and we aren’t sure what to believe for a good portion of the novel—just like the characters.

One of the things that I really love about this book is the gray area that is set up: who is right in this conflict? In war, there are no easy answers, and White doesn’t try to supply them, either. Each character must decide for him or herself who has the right of it. And once they’ve made that decision, they have to determine how to act with honor given those convictions—whether it leads to the fulfillment of what they want personally or not.

Fiona is an unusual heroine, perhaps due to being raised around a group of male relatives for much of her life. Her gift with horses is fascinating, as is her brother and uncle’s appreciation for her work even as they try to both protect and dictate to her in other areas of her life. It seems to me a very realistic portrait of how family doesn’t always make sense, but it is still family. While its members may disagree among themselves, outsiders had best not cross one member unless they are ready to deal with the group as a whole.

Charlie made me feel many of the same things that Fiona did—mostly because he is a complex character himself. I understood her desire to trust him at the same time she feared what he may be up to; I could relate to her hopelessness that they were on opposite sides of a conflict neither could control. And interestingly enough, I could relate to him as well, especially his desire to do right and what he sees as his duty. He honors his commitments, even when it comes at a personal cost—a noble and brave man.

For romance fans, this novel has several packed into its pages. Each one has its own feel to it, based on the characters involved; while Fiona and Charlie’s is central, the other two are not relegated to the background. Each one develops at its own pace and they all have points in the novel devoted to a sweet payoff that fits for each couple.

This is a complex and well-told tale. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy an impeccably researched novel in a unique setting with strong characters, both male and female. It is a thinking book, though, not a beach read, but for lovers of history and sweet romance against impossible odds, it should not be missed.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher in exchange for this honest review. All of the opinions expressed are my own.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 30, 2016 – Finished Reading
June 1, 2016 – Shelved
June 1, 2016 – Shelved as: keeper-shelf

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