The Blacksmith's Daughter by Suzanne Adair
Suzanne Adair follows up her award-winning debut with another, subtler, high-stakes adventure tale.
Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, The Blacksmith's Daughter is the story of seventeen-year-old Betsy Sheridan, a neutral who can’t help getting involved in rebel intrigues. Happily married to a successful cobbler, Betsey is pregnant with her first child when her seemingly-perfect life starts to fall apart.
Her uncle and both her parents are on the run after being incorrectly labeled as rebel spies. Betsey is implicated in their activities when her uncle drops by to assure her of their safety. With British officers of her case, Betsey discovers that her husband has been keeping secrets from her and, though posing as a loyalist, is involved in a rebel spy ring. When her house is first vandalized and then burned to the ground, Betsey realizes how tenuous her safety in Camden is. Knowing that she must do whatever it takes to keep her unborn child safe, Betsey is determined to leave town. Torn between a desire to reunite with her parents and her duty to her husband, it seems like there are no simple decisions in this time of war.
Filled with adventure, romance, and abundant historical detail, The Blacksmith's Daughter is a page-turner. What sets it apart from most historical thrillers, however, is its cast of substantive characters. Protagonist Betsey is sympathetic, if a bit impetuous. The secondary characters--from the villainous Lieutenant Fairfax to minor actor Josiah Carter--are all carefully drawn and fully realized. Additionally Adair puts her novel in context with a historical afterword and bibliography.
While The Blacksmith’s Daughter follows Adair’s first novel, Paper Woman, it does stand on its own. Paper Woman takes place immediately before the action of The Blacksmith's Daughter, but it focuses on Betsy’s mother Sophie Barton, who is only a minor character in The Blacksmith's Daughter. The novels are also written in such a way that if readers encounter the second novel first, they can go back and enjoy Paper Woman without fear of knowing too much about the plot of the first novel.
Suzanne Adair is a colonial and Revolutionary War reenactor. Her first novel, Paper Woman, won the 2007 Patrick D. Smith Literature Award, given by the Florida Historical Society.
Read my review at Front Street Reviews...