While each book can be read as a stand-alone, I recommend reading them in order to get the back story on the characters and their families. Beth White has created a full pedigree of characters, spanning over five generations. While the first story with Genevieve Gallain is mostly forgotten by the third book, many of the characters from the second book are back, though much older.
The Magnolia Duchess takes place during the War of 1812. Fiona Lanier is the daughter of Simon Lanier and Daisy Redmond from book two. In a sad turn of events, Simon and Daisy are killed two years prior when the British attacked the ship they were traveling on. However, Simon's sister Lyse (the main character in book two) and her husband Rafael Gonzalez are both alive and well. Back to Fiona... she is a bit of a tom-boy, being the only girl of the family with three brothers. It is by chance that she happens upon Charlie Kincaid lying half-dead on the beach. He doesn't remember her due to memory loss, but she remembers visiting him with her Uncle Rafe, Aunt Lyse, and cousin Maddy in England years before. The two develop an attraction, though they are on opposite sides of the war between the Americans and the British. He becomes her prisoner, as she hopes to exchange him for her brother Sullivan who is being held by the British. Charlie successfully escapes from the tack room where he is being held and tries to make it to Pensacola to rejoin the British but Fiona is after him, furious that he took her horse, and shoots him in the thigh. She takes him back to her home, and he is later exchanged.
While staying with her cousin Maddy in mobile, Fiona can't take any more and runs off to join the troops on their way to New Orleans. She dresses in her cousin Israel's clothes and chops off her hair. However, she is found by one of her brothers and is taken to a plantation home for safekeeping until he can return her to Mobile. During this time, the British invade, take the plantation as their headquarters, and who none other than her beloved Charlie saves her from a dangerous encounter.
He goes off and fights and she stays at the mansion as a prisoner and nurses the injured and dying British soldiers. After a gruesome battle, Charlie gets captured again, though Fiona thinks he has been killed when he doesn't return to her. She is released back to the Americans and returns, heartbroken, to Mobile.
There is more to the story and it is a very exciting read with so many twists and turns. Beth White is a wonderful author who carefully does her research. The events are factual and the characters are endearing.
My Rating: 5 stars