California, 1840 – dissatisfied with the Mexican government some Californios plot for an independent nation while others wish to join the United States. The most powerful of the Dons, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, finds his niece Ariana Saldivar in the thick of the revolutionary plots and sends her off to a nunnery in Mexico for her own good. Lt. Jeremy Morgan, after disgracing himself at a White House Dinner and dismissed from service, arrives in Monterey with his spoiled debutante wife Beth to start a new career, although he does have a private agenda of his own. The Morgans soon settle into life in old Monterey, but a newly pregnant Beth longs for home and the comforts of New York.
It doesn’t take long before Jeremy is caught up in the midst of plots and counter plots, as well as a growing attraction to the beautiful Ariana. Can he resist her charms? Better yet, can he keep this budding revolutionist out of political hot water? Can she accept that the old ways might die, behold the dream and accept the destiny of a new California with Jeremy? Inquiring minds want to know but I am not telling.
Despite some flaws this was a pretty entertaining read and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for more on old California. There were a lot of annoying flashbacks at first telling some background story, but thankfully those mostly disappeared around page 100 or so. While the author took pains to explain how Ariana obtained so much freedom to come and go with her revolutionary cohorts it still was just a tad too pat at times. I found myself scratching my head once or twice when the amount of time that passed didn’t jive with common sense – those letters back and forth between the states sure came and went awfully quick, let alone Beth getting pregnant right after the wedding and the long voyage to California and when they get there she’s not big as a house?
Those quibbles aside, it was fun seeing the fictional characters mixed in with real historical people – Don Vallejo, Thomas Larkin and John C. Frémont to name a few. Ariana and Jeremy really sparkled when they did get together, but there just wasn’t enough of that – politics always got in the way – and I thought this _was_ a romance. A good book, just not a great one. There is a sequel called Forever The Dream, that continues the story into the next generation.