Sister Marguerite and the Captain
by Mark Barie
Barringer Publishing

"'You live to fight. I fight to live,' she snapped."

In this second novel of a historical series steeped in romance and warfare, the tale begins aboard a French ship in 1756. Captain Antoine Dauphin, a professional soldier, and the Ursuline nun, Sister Marguerite, a former socialite with flaming ginger hair and a temperament to match, struggle to understand their attraction as they head to New France and later struggle with their imperfect love. Set against the backdrop of two wars, this anti-romantic drama follows the couple’s tumultuous lives over nearly two decades as their discordant desires and personal failings repeatedly challenge them. Stalked at every turn by unfortunate circumstances, the couple is also confronted by Marguerite’s malicious former suitor, who seeks to destroy them in rounds of mutual revenge.

While the narrative detail is spare in the story, it is still sufficiently and cleverly fleshed out enough to satisfy literary readers, moving with a faster, more thriller-like pace than one rich with description. The historical components are well chosen and well developed, as are the characters, making the story evocative and meaningful on many levels. The author relays an interesting, slightly more distant, male-oriented viewpoint of the romantic connections while still fully exploring Antoine’s and Marguerite’s foibles and complexities. Although reminiscent of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series—one also set amidst two eighteenth-century wars and across two continents at this explosive juncture in history—Barie’s star-crossed protagonists are more at odds with one another and their worlds, grappling with a gritty reality without the fantasy of time travel and the homely comforts of true love. Still, the more intense and tragedy-driven conflicts surrounding Antoine and Marguerite will keep readers up all night turning pages, so compelling is the need to discover if love will ultimately triumph over adversity.

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