Author: Reyna Grande
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Book Description: A Long Petal of the Sea meets Cold Mountain in this sweeping historical saga following a Mexican army nurse and an Irish soldier who must fight, at first for their survival and then for their love, amidst the atrocity of the Mexican-American War—from the author of the “timely and riveting” (People) Across a Hundred Mountains and The Distance Between Us.
A forgotten war. An unforgettable romance.
The year is 1846. After the controversial annexation of Texas, the US Army marches south to provoke war with México over the disputed Río Grande boundary.
Ximena Salomé is a gifted Mexican healer who dreams of building a family with the man she loves on the coveted land she calls home. But when Texas Rangers storm her ranch and shoot her husband dead, her dreams are burned to ashes. Vowing to honor her husband’s memory and defend her country, Ximena uses her healing skills as an army nurse on the frontlines of the ravaging war.
Meanwhile, John Riley, an Irish immigrant in the Yankee army desperate to help his family escape the famine devastating his homeland, is sickened by the unjust war and the unspeakable atrocities against his countrymen by nativist officers. In a bold act of defiance, he swims across the Río Grande and joins the Mexican Army—a desertion punishable by execution. He forms the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a band of Irish soldiers willing to fight to the death for México’s freedom.
When Ximena and John meet, a dangerous attraction blooms between them. As the war intensifies, so does their passion. Swept up by forces with the power to change history, they fight not only for the fate of a nation but for their future together.
Heartbreaking and lyrical, Reyna Grande’s spellbinding saga, inspired by true events and historical figures, brings these two unforgettable characters to life and illuminates a largely forgotten moment in history that impacts the US-México border to this day.
Will Ximena and John survive the chaos of this bitter war, or will their love be devoured along with the land they strive to defend?
Rating: 3 Stars
Review: Set in Mexico during the Mexican American War. John Riley an Irish soldier fighting on behalf of the Yankees abandons them to fight for Mexico. He is hoping to help Mexico for the freedom they desire that he was unable to get in Ireland. While he is there he falls in love with Ximena who is recently widowed. Their love is epic until he is taken prisoner and Ximena fights to save his life.
The story of Ximena and John was beautiful and I wanted them to save each other. However, that is only half the book, which this part reads so much like a history book, I was torn about putting the book down. While I was intrigued by the history, it got a little too academic at times for my taste.
Overall, I liked this book, but be aware that there is more history than fiction at times in this historical fiction novel.
Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.