Finger pointing to fifth start of five.

A Review of To Save a Lady, by Patricia Preston

In keeping with my resolution to leave more reviews, I decided I would also write some here. And I am starting with To Save a Lady. Like most readers, I tend to find books to read based on word of mouth and reviews. These are especially helpful when looking for books set in American history, because those can be harder to find.

As always, please remember that leaving reviews on Amazon and other retailers’ sites is one of the biggest ways you can help an author and fellow readers. And it costs you nothing!

To Save a Lady, by Patricia Preston

I enjoyed this book from start to finish, and even read it a second time. With a TBR (To Be Read) pile a mile high, that means something!

Setting

New Orleans, 1814

Main Characters

Elise Plaisance is a devoted lady’s maid who turns to a frightening friend of her mistress’ late husband in order to find her mistress’ lost son. But in exchange, she has to risk her safety and turn spy, right on the eve of the Battle of New Orleans.

Jesse Cross is a straight-shooting American army captain who agrees to meet with the masked Frenchwoman. She claims to be the liaison of a powerful Creole Frenchman in the city with information that will help the American war effort, and Jesse can’t very well turn down critical military intelligence.

Romance

Meeting in the courtyard of an unoccupied house in the French Quarter at midnight leads not only to a growing passion—how could it not?—but to significant dangers.

Their relationship is dangerous for them both, but they both fall early. But falling in love, and being able to act on it are two very things. Jesse tries to keep Elise safe, but her powerful handler and her desperate efforts to find the missing boy throw them both into a spiral of intrigue and danger that constantly threatens to pull them apart.

Plot

There are plot twists galore, and I won’t ruin the suspense with spoilers here. Suffice it to say they have to face British spies, French Creole intrigue, and the very real battles that take place just outside the city, in addition to the monumental final battle of the War of 1812.

Historical Worldbuilding

Genuine figures who play active parts in the plot of the novel include both Andrew Jackson and the infamous pirate, Jean Lafitte. Both are well drawn characters in their own rights, and they add depth with their significant roles in both the story and the war, and with their accurately colorful personalities.

Preston does a wonderful job of worldbuilding, making readers feel like they have landed right in New Orleans during the war. And Elise is always clearly French without falling into painful stereotypes or including more than a light dusting simple French words (such as “oui,” “non,” and “capitaine.”) that non-French-speakers will have no trouble navigating.

This historical period is exquisitely juicy and scandalously under-explored in historical romance. Kudos to Preston to bringing it so vibrantly to life in this book.

Tropes

This is a Military/Protector romance, as Jesse has all the skills and protectiveness of a classic Military hero without in any way diminishing how strong a woman Elise is. It is also a Different Social Classes romance, since Elise is a lady’s maid and Jesse is very well-connected politically and a wealthy attorney in peace time. These class differences definitely play into the obstacles to their relationship. Finally it is also a bit of a He Falls First (fast and hard) romance, although they do both fall pretty quickly. Happily, they each recognize their feelings, and it is the obstacles to their chance at a lasting relationship that keep us on the edge of our seats, not lack of emotional intelligence.

Secondary Characters

The secondary characters in this story are wonderfully drawn, and I sincerely hope a number of them will get their own books as Preston continues the French Quarter Brides series. I can’t wait to read Rafe’s and Bonnard’s stories, in particular!

In Summary:

  • I most definitely recommend this book. Two thumbs up! 👍👍
  • It is a historical romance set in 1814-5 New Orleans.
  • The plot gives readers all the feels of a good romance, as well as the edge-of-your-seat thrills of an unpredictable adventure tale.
  • The main characters are both likable and believable, and readers are drawn right along on their emotional journeys.
  • The history is on target without taking over or weighing the story down in any way.
  • The tropes are Military/Protector, Different Social Classes, and He Falls First (thought both fall quickly).
  • The heat level, on a scale of 1 to 5 is about 2 or a 2.5. There is sex on the page, but it is not particularity graphic.
  • The violence is also not particularly graphic, though there is reference to sexual violence that happened in one character’s past and there are a few short battle scenes.

Bring on the historical romances set in the Americas!

Obviously, I love historical romance set in the Americas, having just written Devil in Our Hearts, which is set in colonial Maine, in 1679. I wrote that (and am working on a series set in the wilds of colonial upstate New York during the Seven Years War/French and Indian War) because I was having a hard time finding historical romances that were not regencies. Nothing wrong with regencies, but I was looking for books set in the Americas.

What are some other good historical romances set in the Americas? And yes, that would definitely include Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Please help me and other readers find them by posting them in the comments below! I might even feel moved to review some of them in this blog. 😊

Top image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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