Disclaimer: The Magnolia Duchess, by Beth White, was provided by Revell in exchange for an honest review.
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 have to decide where their true loyalties lie.
The Magnolia Duchess is the sequel to The Creole Princess, which I quite liked for its historicity. The Magnolia Duchess had the same historicity to it and told me a lot about the war of 1812 which I didn’t know before, which was nice. I like White’s dedication to conveying an accurate representation of the time period and of the war and conflict going on, and also showing us a closer look at how important the Gulf Coast was in wars like the War of 1812.
The romance was all right, although much heavier than I remember it being in The Creole Princess. Seriously, Fiona and Charlie spend a lot of time kissing. I think I would have liked the romance aspect better if I had liked Charlie more, but I had a very hard time liking him. He was a bit too smug and proud at too many moments for me to really want to root for Fiona and him to get together. There were a couple of other romances in the novel, too, but they were glanced over and weren’t as developed as the “main” one of Charlie and Fiona.
Since one of the things I liked the least about The Creole Princess were the time jumps, I was pleased to see that, while still incorporating the time jumps, White did a much better job of explaining the gaps and how characters got to certain points. And while some of the characters are treated as if the reader is supposed to know them already (since this is one of those “let’s follow the family down through the years” series), White does a pretty good job of reminding the reader who they are (although that didn’t stop me from getting hopelessly confused more than once). However, I am upset that we never got to see Sullivan reunite with his family. That was a pretty important part of the novel at the beginning and then it was brushed aside for the romance.
So, overall, I found The Magnolia Duchess a pleasant read. I didn’t like Charlie all that much, and I thought the secondary romances were unnecessary and rushed, but I did enjoy Fiona’s escapades and her determination (although I have no clue why she decided to go to New Orleans besides the fact that the plot demanded it). I also particularly enjoyed, for some reason, puzzling over why Fiona told Charlie not to tell anyone he was British when anyone could tell he was by virtue of his accent. Then I realized that a ton of people probably sounded like he did because, duh, America was full of immigrants, many of them from Britain. Don’t ask me why I found that fun to puzzle over and then figure out—I just did! Anyway, White has a nice little historical romance series going on, and I’m interested to see where it goes next.