Lovely Romance Anchored Deeply in a Little Examined Time and Place
“You always this combative, Miss Wyatt?
“Not as a rule, no.”
“That’s too bad. A combative woman is usually a passionate woman.”
“I thought you stole slaves. I didn’t realize you were also an authority on women.”
FINAL DECISION: Beautifully weaving in historical fact, this novel tells the story of two people living their lives and finding one another while in a constantly precarious position. I loved the deep sense of time and place in this book along with fascinating characters who are simply lovely together.
THE STORY: Hester Wyatt escaped slavery as a child and is now a member of the Underground Railroad. When an injured man is brought to her to hide, she agrees to care for him despite his surly behavior. Galen Vachon aka Black Daniel is from a wealthy free black family in New Orleans but has now dedicated his life to helping slaves escape to the north. The sweet and independent Hester intrigues Galen who finds himself drawn back to her. The dangers of slave catchers and a potential spy in the railroad threaten both Galen and Hester.
OPINION: This was a book that I found fulfilling on many levels. It tells the history of a place and time and a people that are not often given voice in romance novels. I thought that Jenkins perfectly balanced the giving of information and historical context without allowing the history to overwhelm the personal story of Hester and Galen. These are not modern character plopped down into some historical context. Instead, these characters are complex, fully formed and grounded within the history depicted in this book.
These two characters have strength and character and also a fear of love and the risks that come with that emotion. The two begin with a somewhat adversarial relationship that begins to change as the two are forced into close quarters and begin to learn about one another. I found Galen adorable as he becomes entranced by Hester and his desire to spoil her leads him to make her life more comfortable and then to spoil her. Hester fears love because of the loss of self that might accompany devotion to another.
There are serious storylines in the plot of this book including kidnapping back into slavery, attempted rape, and, of course, the big issue of slavery itself. This is not a glossy falsely romantic view of these events but rather a story that feels real and oftentimes dark. The juxtaposition of these horrible events with a sweet, beautiful and sometimes silly relationship between Hester and Galen made the joy and love the two discover together feel strong and life affirming. A keeper.
WORTH MENTIONING: I fell I love with this story when the explanation for the title is revealed. Simply lovely and beautiful.
CONNECTED BOOKS: INDIGO is a standalone book.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.