Olivia Waite is a romance author, practicing feminist, and wide-ranging dilettante.
I have a soft spot for Susanna Fraser's Spanish-set historicals -- as someone who writes things closer to the parlor-ballroom-bedroom romp side of the spectrum, I find it refreshing to watch romances bloom amid the ordered chaos of a Peninsular War army unit on the march. So when I heard she was coming out with a historical novella with a black corporal hero, I preordered so fast the button smoked a little bit.
The book turned out to be a lovely, breezy read: not too angsty, which fit my mood just perfectly. Elijah's race is an issue, but it's not the issue -- or at least, it's the issue for some secondary assholes but it's not the issue between him and Rose, our heroine. Which is rather a sleek illustration of the way bigotry erases the humanity of its victims: bigots object to the hero and heroine's marriage solely on account of his skin color, even though, without being too spoilerish, there are possible objections that do not take Elijah's race into account.
Truth be told, at the book's end, I kind of wanted more. (The sentence that shall be written on every novella author's tombstone: I wanted more.) I liked Elijah, especially when he was feeling hopeless and lovelorn. I liked Rose, especially when she got to cook things. I wanted to spend more time with them (and watching them suffer -- they suffered so beautifully!). I have a suspicion as to the hero of her next book (she said, steepling her fingers) and I can't wait.
Recommended if you're looking for something pleasant, sweet, and 50% less white than most historical romances.
Full disclosure: the author and I have shared many lovely meals and are what may be referred to as 'chums.'