**This review appears in the November 2014 issue of Family Fiction Magazine**
It is 1814 and the British have taken hold of Mackinac Island and its fort, forcing American residents to swear an oath of loyalty to the British crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a voyageur–a fur trader who left his family home to find freedom and adventure. He’s been gone five years and when he returns, his family’s farm is at the mercy of the British invaders.
Torn between the life he’s grown used to and guilt over leaving his brother and mother, he’s drawn back into the loyalist fight against the British–and into a relationship with Angelique Mackenzie, a beautiful local girl who’s been befriended by the daughter of the British commander. As tensions mount and the threat of violence increases, both Angelique and Pierre must decide where their loyalties rest, how far they will go to find freedom, and how much they will risk to find love.
Mackinac (formerly Michilimackinac) Island is a picturesque and historical rich retreat on Lake Huron. A hub for fur Native fur traders and coureur de bois, the island was a strategic economic and military stronghold of the British during the War of 1812. In Jody Hedlund’s latest release, Captured by Love (Bethany House), said history is artfully relayed in an emotive tale of unrequited love, betrayal, espionage and survival.
Jody Hedlund excels at taking rich regional history and creating a masterpiece of fictional micro-history. The true facts of her settings act as an intriguing framework to the stories that she builds upon them. Captured by Love begins in the winter of 1814 when the residents of Michilimackinac are nearing starvation since ice on the frozen lake has cut them off British supply ships. The inhabitants of the island have been forced to swear an oath of loyalty to the British crown and accede to the seizure of their supplies to sustain the soldiers living at Fort George. The desperation of circumstance and egregious treatment of islanders is palpable from the first pages. Hedlund’s mosaic of description produces the clawing ache of hunger pains and bone chilling cold in a reader’s very person.
Voyageur Pierre Durant slips on to the island under the cover of morning fog. He had left the island years earlier in outright defiance of his father’s wishes, in search of freedom and adventure. He finds his beloved mother and home in grave condition, tenuously holding on to survival because of the commitment of his childhood friend Angelique. Angelique risks incurring the wrath of her degenerate stepfather or discovery by one of the emaciated redcoats that she has been smuggling precious and paltry provisions to the blind and widowed Miriam.
Pierre can not consolidate the beautiful selfless young woman before him with the memory of his mousy childhood best friend and sisterly companion. His untimely attraction to Angelique adds fuel to her unrequited love for the charismatic fur trader. She has been besotted with him since childhood, but during Pierre’s absence became engaged to Jean, his exiled American loyalist brother. Oh what a tangled web these intriguing characters weave! Both are wrought with guilt for varying reasons: Pierre for leaving his family helpless and Angelique for betraying her commitment to her betrothed in her heart.
Pierre dares Angelique to acknowledge the desires of her heart that she has suppressed in fear of becoming a reflection of her adulterous mother. Her sanctimonious and perverse stepfather forces Angelique to carry the shame of her mother’s sin with his punitive guardianship and threats of indentured marriage. She has allowed herself to dream solely of a future of safety and stability, agreeing to a passionless marriage of commitment with Jean as a means of rescue from her present circumstances. Angelique carries the emotional scars of abuse and oppression close to her heart as a shield to hope.
Pierre’s very nature craves adventure and a nomadic lifestyle, but his restlessness is symptomatic of his fleeing the impetuous and hotheaded man that he used to be. Even though he has repented of his past, he is challenged daily to remain honorable and steadfast. Angelique and Pierre are complex and flawed characters whose short fallings and development breathe reality in to fiction.
As the political climate on the islands intensifies with the recurring threat of American invasion, Pierre and Angelique’s loyalties are tested as are the lengths they are willing to go to for freedom and love. Hedlund refuses to let her characters take the easy path and sends them through an emotional gauntlet in the form of a layered and suspenseful plot. Readers of historical romance are guaranteed to adore Captured by Love and carry the story and characters with them even days after completion.
**Disclosure: review copy provided by author**