Von Kannon (co-author: Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies, 2008, etc.) tells a tale of romance and intrigue in this historical novel set in 17th-century America.
In 1803, the United States is still coming to terms with what it means to be independent from Britain. Salem, Massachusetts, is a mighty naval city whose docks bustle with commerce, and imports from all over the world fill warehouses that line the shore. Capt. Isaac McCallister is a successful businessman and seaman from one of Salem’s wealthiest families—or at least he was before he was captured by Barbary pirates and enslaved in Algeria for five years. Francois Déguerre, a loyal Frenchman who is his friend, ransomed him and set him free. After returning home to Salem, McCallister is bewitched by Eleanor Hampton, his late stepbrother’s daughter. She’s a headstrong, fiercely talented painter, and they quickly fall in love despite family drama that threatens to destroy their happiness. While grappling with the trauma from his time in Algiers, Isaac is accused of a grave crime and must fight to clear his name. Von Kannon appears to have modeled the relationship between Eleanor and her mother, Fanny, on the one between Mrs. Bennet and Elizabeth from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and as Austen did in that classic tale, the author provides a meddling cousin and snooty siblings to effectively add to the tense, exasperating family dynamics. The overall drama is propelled by strong dialogue and careful research that makes the historical fiction ring true. Despite its length, this novel is well paced and offers up some steamy romantic scenes that break up the drama into digestible sections.
An engrossing tale of navigating new love and finding one’s way back home after a perilous journey.