I’m a big fan of Gone with the Wind, and Scarlett O’Hara, love her or hate her, is a complex and well-written character. (If your only reference to GWTW is the movie, then I tell you now, READ THE BOOK!)
And if you’re a fan of the Civil War-era stories and strong leading ladies, then MaryLu Tyndall has a new book you’ll want to add to your to-be-read pile.
Forsaken Dreams, the first in her new series Escape to Paradise, introduces a group of Southerners, just after the Civil War has ended, who are looking to start over. They all pay for passage on a ship headed for Brazil to start a new colony. Among the passengers is Eliza Crawford, Southern-born widow of a Union general, and Colonel Blake Wallace, wanted for war crimes and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Eliza and Blake are the central characters in this book. In subsequent books, other characters will take center stage.
The story takes us along on their journey from Charleston, South Carolina, through the Caribbean and Atlantic waters to Brazil. Of course, nothing is easy, and the tension that unfolds from the beginning of the story until its end is gut-wrenching and soul-piercing. Tyndall crafts an action-packed story from the first page and it doesn’t let up until the end. Even as I neared the final pages, I wasn’t sure how things were going to turn out.
The characters in this story are well-developed and realistic. I especially liked Eliza. She had me at this line: “I fear I’ve always been too adventurous for my own good.” I wouldn’t say those words about myself, necessarily, but they stir something in me. Eliza is no wilting Southern flower. She is strong and capable and steps forward where others step back. She’s described this way by Blake:
War has a way of stealing one’s innocence. As well as strengthening their character. However, in your case, this pluck of yours seems more something you were born with than something acquired.
And Blake is a flawed hero–the best kind, really. He’s not perfect. He often reacts with his instincts and his PTSD episodes are painful and frighteningly real. Eliza describes her attraction to him this way:
Yet something about him tugged on her, drawing her thoughts and heart like the needle of a compass to true north. And as with a compass, there seemed to be naught she could do to change its direction.
Perhaps my favorite part of the whole story is that it’s based in history. An unknown number of Southerners migrated to Brazil after the war to create what they hoped would be a utopian society after the devastation of the Civil War. This is a piece of history I’ve never heard before. It makes for a compelling tale.
As Blake says to a fellow passenger, “Brazil is the last hope for many of us.”
The second installment of this series releases in November, which seems a long time from now. I’ll be waiting anxiously for the continuing story and a chance to journey further with this group. They feel like friends already.
In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the book from the author.