It's always great to find new historical fiction where I read about something I didn't know before. The Pelican Bride was just that kind of book. Beth White has written a great story, with just the right mix of romance and history.
It's 1704 and Genevieve Gaillain and her sister have just arrived in Mobile Bay, in the French colony of Louisiane on board the ship Pelican. They have come from France with a group of young women who have traveled to the New World to become brides for the settlers there. Most of the ladies are good Catholics, from convents, but Genevieve has a secret. She is a Huguenot, and she escaped from prison where she was awaiting execution for murder. Upon her arrival in the New World, she falls into the water and is rescued by Tristan Lanier. Tristan used to be an officer in the French regiment settled in Louisiane, but after a disagreement with the Colonel, he resigned his post and moved to his own plantation outside of the fort. Even though neither of them is looking for marriage, Tristan and Genevieve are thrown together and feel a mutual attraction.
There's more trouble brewing in the settlement than just threats from the British and Indians. Father Mathieu, the Jesuit priest who traveled on the Pelican, didn't come as spiritual counsel, but with a message for Tristan. But someone else knows the priest's secret mission, and he will stop at nothing to keep him from completing it.
Ms. White has wound spies, murder and intrigue among the pages of this romance novel. Although I had a general knowledge that the French and British both attempted to settle in the southern areas of present-day America, and that the Huguenots were driven from France, I never gave much thought to how it happened. It's easy to picture these scenes as Beth White describes them. The characters are colorful, with appropriate dialogue. I didn't like when Ms. White wrote from the point of view of Nika, the young Indian woman. Her pronunciations of people's names with lots of wah-wah sounds just annoyed me. I liked that I didn't have to wait until the end of the story for Tristan and Genevieve to fall in love and get married. I always like it better when there's a wedding in the middle of the story. I loved this book so much!
I thought Beth White mixed just enough history in this story to help the reader understand the setting, but not so much that I felt like I was reading a history book. The author's notes give even more history to those who want more information about the events covered in the book.
This is the first book in the Gulf Coast Chronicles and I can't wait to read the other books in the series. Ms. White left just enough of the story unfinished to leave me looking forward the next part of the story! This is one you need to read!
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.