Monday, January 15, 2018

Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings, 2017

Click to view
on Goodreads 
Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she's able to make ends meet, but lately he's run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out.

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn't find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she'll take them.

When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she's mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess--they're not supposed to be so blamed pretty--but he's left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess's methods. Louisa's never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

(345 pages)

Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a fluffy book, you know? And it doesn't get much fluffier than a historical fiction novel about a dance hall singer mistaken for a governess at a fort in the American West.

A small part of my brain hates the entire premise of the book, since basically the entire point of Fort Reno appears to be to dole out food rations to the American Indians of the West and generally just "keep them in line." I also dislike a man, Frisco Smith, who showed up a couple of times in the story and may be setting up to be the hero of a future book: he's fighting to open the latest land aquisition up to homesteading. The exact quote:

"All I'm asking is that the government do the same thing for them [white settlers] that they did for the Indians. Give them a chance at a homestead, too.

 This is completely unfair, of course, since the land was the Native Americans' to begin with–not the white settlers'–and their culture was not really compatible with the euro-centric model of small, individual homesteads.

But honestly, sometimes I just need to read a fluffy historical fiction without thinking about all the horrible parts of American history. The story in Holding the Fort is held together by the romance, which is likely the driving factor for most people reading the book and basically also is the plot. I think my favorite parts were honestly when Louisa was spending time with the girls and studying her way into an education of her own along the way. I sympathized with her struggles and rooted for her to find a happy ending, since life had dealt her nothing but bad cards and she had always done the best she could with them. I cared for Daniel's daughters more than I cared for him himself, but I was happy enough to see them both finding their way to happiness together.

Honestly, though, I think I'm much too cynical for this book, because I kind of agreed with the grandmother that the girls needed to get out of that fort full of men and get a real education. Fort Reno doesn't seem like a very nice place to raise children, and the "mean old grandmother" trying to "steal the children" presented in the story really just seems like a loving and concerned grandmother who wants the best for her daughter's children more than anything else.

But gah, that's me thinking about things too much again. Anyway, Holding the Fort is a fun escapist read for a few hours–if you can manage to turn off the questioning part of your brain long enough to enjoy it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Join the conversation!