Gulf of Mexico, 1846. Ximena, for eight months, has been hearing rumors of war between US and Mexico, after the Republic of Texas became the twenty-eighth state in the Union, thus leading to a dispute over this strip of land between the Rio Grande and the Rio Nueces. As long as they remain away from her and don’t disrupt her daily life, then life feels normal. But things change when her husband dies from the hands of Texas Rangers and she sees a deserter risking his life and fighting for her country. She feels as she needs to contribute to the same cause by caring for soldiers with her gift of healing.
Fort Texas, Rio Grande. John Riley has been enlisted for seven months during which time he’s seen his Irish countrymen suffer all manner of punishments at the hands of the Yankee officers. As Yankee’s ambition grows to capture the Mexico’s northern lands such as Upper California and New Mexico, John Riley sees leaflets claiming US government’s aggression against the Mexican nation and enticing men to desert. Riley quickly realizes that the US Army treats him exactly the same way as English one. They would never advance him. He’d always be a common solider. The leaflets put notions into his head.
The story is very rich in historical background, bringing many interesting facts. Half of the US Army is filled with immigrants, who are promised of a wholesome diet, comfortable quarters, and the finest medical care. None of it happens. What really happens is a lot of bullying from Yankee officers toward the immigrant soldiers. In turn, desertion follows. Who will make it across Rio Grande, how the battles will turn out and its effects keep a reader in suspense.
It was interesting to read about the formation of The Saint Patrick’s Battalion. Riley gets an opportunity to organize a battalion which is composed of foreigners and with its standards attracts more deserters. But even with the superb training, Riley knows that his crew’s equipment is no match for the range of the Yankee guns.
With poignant storytelling, the buried pieces of history come alive, weaving the lives of Irish men who just wanted to have a piece of land to call their own and not be indebted to foreign landlords on their own land. It’s also a story of a courageous woman who didn’t want her land to go under control of a foreign power. Those two colliding stories question what courage and loyalty truly mean. There is also a love nuance to the story, but it doesn’t overwhelm the story.
More Historical Suspense