When Hannah Thomas’ lighthouse keeper husband joins up with the American Revolutionaries, it’s not long before Hannah is left a young widow. Ostracized by the Puritan community in New England, Hannah pours herself into the lighthouse, keeping the coast safe for Patriot vessels. When her sister Lydia comes to keep her company, the foolish girl falls for a nefarious Redcoat officer, leaving Hannah powerless to halt her sister’s folly. And when a shipwreck throws Birch Meredith–ostensibly a Tory ship captain–ashore by the lighthouse, Hannah herself is torn in her loyalties. As much as she yearns to reciprocate Birch’s interest, she will not give up her devotion to freedom or her devotion to God.
This book shed an unexpected light on the historical occupation of lighthouse keeper during the Revolutionary War. It also explored the themes of revenge, a good reputation, legalism, and love. Birch is out for revenge, determined to exterminate the British officer who murdered his fifteen-year-old brother. Hannah, despite all her best efforts, can never measure up to the standards of her village. The Puritan elders not only humiliate Hannah but they drive Lydia further into sin with their harsh judgments. Lydia’s name is very apt, calling to mind the youngest Bennet sister in Pride and Prejudice whose behavior Lydia mimics.
The beginning of the book was somewhat frustrating as Birch and Hannah’s burgeoning relationship is only described and never really shown. It felt as if there were 30-40 pages missing of character development to make me care about the romance. But although the characters were never fully rounded out, the plot was enjoyable enough to keep me engaged.
Interestingly, the Author’s Note shares that this was one of the author’s first books from two decades ago which never found a buyer due to the unpopularity of Revolutionary era books at that time. This made me wonder how much the author’s style has developed over the subsequent years. I enjoyed this look at the American Revolution and would read more by Colleen Coble.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.