Publication Date: February 1, 2022
About the Author:
Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in print journalism, and she lives in Arizona with her husband three children.
“I do not want you to kiss me.” When Gilles Étienne accepts a bet to charm a friend’s sister into kissing him, he does not expect such a scornful rebuff. But the beautiful and independent Marie-Caroline Daubin (known as Caroline) is not interested in playing games with her father’s revolutionary clerk. Having already experienced the cruel effects of the incipient revolution in France, Caroline does her best to tread the right path, arguing that forcible equality is not equality at all. Discontents like Gilles Étienne don’t understand how close they are coming to unraveling the fabric of society and making France even worse than it was under the oppressive monarchy.
Intrigued by the beautiful royaliste, Gilles cannot help but question his revolutionary principles. When his brother goes to Paris as a revolutionary soldier, Gilles endures the stigma of coward to stay behind in Marseilles and protect his mother. He gives up the games and follies of youth, although he cannot quite give up the revolutionary principles that he espouses. As tensions heat up within the coastal city, he finds himself called to help the Daubin family elude escape from his own Jacobin friends. And although Caroline continues to protest that she does not want to kiss him, their friendship seems destined to become something else entirely.
I enjoyed Arlem Hawks’ previous naval novel Georgana’s Secret, and since I’m currently teaching The Count of Monte Cristo (which is set in Marseilles, thirty years later), the setting of this book appealed to me. This book provides a fascinating view of the ordinary family’s experience during the early days of the French Revolution. The story sheds light on the plight of refractory priests (who refused to give up their religion or leave France) and the persecution they faced at the hands of the revolutionary mob. A few subplots seemed underdeveloped–such as what exactly happened to make Gilles despise his piratical father so much–but all in all, this was a compelling story with memorable characters exploring how romance can flourish between people with differing political views in a society torn by revolution.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
“I thought you wanted us to be friends,” she said. “Friends do not have to agree, only to support.”
Her even tone eased the tightness in his chest. “I suppose you can also be happy I have not left you to clean up my mess, even if other men have.”
Those full lips pressed into a line, and her eyes dimmed for the briefest of moments. He wished he could see the memory that seemed to pass across her mind like the last brief rays of a dying sunset. “In my observation, you seem more the type of man to clean up your own messes.” She tipped her head. “Or at lease attempt to do so, even if you are not always successful.”Beyond the Lavender Fields, by Arlem Hawks