The second in the City of Dreams series by Beverly Swerling is a tale of cross/double cross in trading and politics. The story begins with Dr Joyful Turner, a gifted surgeon and doctor, coming to the aid of a young woman in the Chelsea night. As she is accosted by toughs with the idea of molestation on their minds, Turner grabs her from their clutches and sets her up in business in a 'better neighborhood'. We next find Turner on the deck of the US flagship Lawrence on Lake Erie, fighting British warships under Commodore Perry in the War of 1812. While arranging for the exodus of patients from the sinking ship, Turner's hand is blown off by a British cannonball. So ends his esteemed surgical career.
Turner returns to his native New York City to try to rally and make a new life. He becomes embroiled in the treasonous plot of a group of businessmen and some of the working class trade groups to secede from the nation and re-group to form a new nation that would bypass the touchy political friction between the United States and Britain. Turner rubs shoulders with Jacob Astor, the fur trading and shipping tycoon, even as he wrests control of Devrey Shipping from his treasonous uncle. His plan is to build trade connections in the Orient and commission a fleet of trading ships. His plan is to make money - lots of money. The Britsh embargo ships stand between him and a chance of success, but he's a patriot and there are things he must do to ensure an honorable success and continuance of the nation he loves.
Honor and love ... He must succeed for honor, but also for love, as there is a young woman that he is courting and who just might marry another before he can gainfully support her. Love of nation and love of a woman make Joyful Turner move heaven and Earth to negotiate the wrangle of politics and business in 19th century Manhattan.
So that's the nutshell of the set-up for this novel. There are plenty more twists and turns in this fast-paced story of the turning of the nation's fortunes during the time leading up to the burning of Washington DC and the Battle of Baltimore, the Federalist plot to secede and garner a separate peace with Britain, the burgeoning clipper ship trade between the US and Asia, and the role of New York's big business movers and shakers in the politics of the era.
Beverly Swerling does an incredible job of making a dramatic era even more exciting by pulling colorful characters into her story line and weaving their histories and actions together masterfully. Yes, there is passion, romance, derring-do, strong-arming and histrionics, but she keeps good control and never lets the book go too far toward the romance genre. This is good historical fiction that can appeal to both the history buff and the romantic in all of us.
The next book in the series is called City of Glory. Stay tuned or let me know what you think if you beat me to the punch on posting a reaction. I am personally loving Beverly Swerling's series !