In 1704, Geneviève Gallain, a persecuted Huguenot, escapes arrest in France and travels with her sister and others to what would become Mobile, Alabama on the French ship Pélican. This group of women, known as Pélican brides, agree to marry French soldiers in the Louisiane territory, but in doing so will Geneviève escape her past?
I’m not usually interested in stories set in 18th-century America, so I hesitated in choosing this novel to read. However, it was by an author new to me and set in my husband’s old stomping grounds, so I took a chance. I loved this novel!
It hooks from the first page when author Beth White drops the reader into the water alongside Geneviève as she first steps foot in Mobile Bay—literally. It’s a fairly long and somewhat complicated story, not the typical romance novel. In fact, the hero and heroine spend little time together in the grand scheme of the plot. But when they do … ooh, la, la. (Okay, keep in mind this is a Christian book, so the ooh, la, la is tame by some people’s standards.)
Geneviève really has little interest in becoming the wife of one of the soldiers she pledged to marry. She’s only there because, while attempting to protect her father, she committed a crime in France and can’t go back. One-by-one the brides wed, leaving Geneviève and her sister Aimée one of the few left to find husbands.
From the moment Tristan Lanier fishes Geneviève from the water, he can’t forget her. However, he has no interest in marrying again, not after losing his Indian wife.
Since Tristan is the only man who snags Geneviève’s interest and rather than marry someone she doesn’t love, she determines to support herself by following in the footsteps of her father. She becomes a baker who sells breads and pastries.
While I enjoyed the relationship between Tristan and his brother, Marc-Antoine, Aimée begged for a bad ending. And the antagonist is really one slimy character.
The story is rife with betrayal, mystery, prejudice, heartbreak, and murder. The French want alliances with the Indian tribes. The British want alliances with the Indian tribes. And they both want to claim as much territory for their countries as possible. If Tristan and Geneviève cannot discover the person behind a heinous attack on a small peace-seeking group that included his brother, war looms on the horizon.
As I read this novel, I was reminded of watching one of my favorite movies The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis. Wrong side, different setting, but all the action.
This is the first release in Beth White’s Gulf Coast Chronicles. As an aside, the story came to her when, in doing research, she came across information about the Pélican and the brides that sailed to the new world from France.
If you enjoy historicals based on real-life events and written in a way that keeps you flipping the pages, I definitely recommend this novel. I know I’m looking forward to reading Book Two.
What is your favorite time period in a novel?
Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Revell, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.