Title: “Queen of Swords”
Author: Sara Donati
Genre(s): historical fiction, historical romance
Part of a Series: Yes, 5th book
Why I read it: Addicted, I tell ya. Addicted!
Summary: Continuing a year after “Fire Along the Sky,” Luke and Hannah are still searching for the kidnapped Jennet. They rescue her but she reveals she has a child which was taken away for safe keeping. So they set out to find the child and their search takes them to New Orleans as the War of 1812 nears its end at the city. The three are thrown into a world of precarious race relations and intrigue. Luke and Jennet fight to reunite their family while Hannah finds an old friend…and a possible new romance.
Review: When “Fire Along the Sky” ended with a sequel hook, I was excited for the next book. And it lived up to my expectations.
This is the first book where Elizabeth doesn’t appear in person, only in the form of letters. Nathaniel doesn’t appear until the last third of the book. And you know what? The book doesn’t suffer for it. The series has been transferred to the younger generation and it’s all right. Or perhaps I don’t care because Hannah is my favorite character.
Hannah shares a great deal of plot with newcomer Jean Benoit Savard,simply known as Ben. And Ben is the romantic partner I had always wanted for Hannah. His background is similar to hers: half white, half Indian. Like Hannah, is a respected member of his community and one who can move between his two worlds. And he fits Donati’s romantic hero mold: quiet yet ready to tease the woman he loves. Strong but only acting when provoked. Or when to protect his loved ones. He is better matched with Hannah than Strikes-the-Sky, in my opinion.
Sara Donati is inspired by Diana Gabaldon but this is the first time I truly felt Gabaldon’s influence. First with Jennet, who was put through the Jamie Fraser Wringer. As was Hannah later in the story. Then Ben had smacks of Jamie Fraser in that all the women want him. Thankfully, it didn’t appear the men wanted him either or I might have been concerned that Gabaldon’s influence was too great this time.
While Hannah and Ben’s growing romance is a big draw of the book, Luke and Jennet’s isn’t too far behind. They are passionate but face their own struggles. Especially after Jennet comes out of the Jamie Fraser Wringer. But they work through their problems in a very realistic way and come out stronger on the other side. This is a time when Ms. Gabaldon should be influenced by Ms. Donati.
The antagonists once again are good ones, similar in some aspects to Jemima Southern Kuick: entitled and with no moral centers. The main difference is that the Poiterins have the money and clout to make Jennet’s life a living hell. Agnes Poiterin can bribe a priest into violating the sacred seal of the confessional and convince all of New Orleans that Jennet is a madwoman. Well, not all of New Orleans, but the Bonners still struggle with the woman and her grandson.
New Orleans is a fascinating setting and once again, Ms. Donati brings it to life. All the different races mixed together and their relations with each other are intriguing. It is exciting to watch Ben and Hannah navigate them while Jennet tries not to challenge them. It is also a city on the verge of war and Ms. Donati does a good job of portraying this.
Bottom line: An exciting book with plenty of romance.
Sex: Yes, about the same as Donati’s other books. There is also mentioned and depicted rape.
What was your favorite literary setting?