The Indigo Blade
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I have always been fascinated by the Colonial and Revolutionary War Era of American history. Maybe I watched 1776 too many times as a child, or maybe I’m just a colossal nerd. Either way, I was always a little disappointed that I couldn’t find many romance novels set in Colonial America. As such, I was happy to find The Indigo Blade by Linda Jones. I was expecting an exciting tale of liberty and romance. Instead, I got a convoluted melodrama with lackluster dialogue.

The year is 1774, and all of Charleston is buzzing with talk of revolution. Penelope Seton is the daughter of wealthy planter William Seton—and supposedly a staunch Loyalist. She secretly harbors support for the rebel colonists, though, as does her younger brother.

Penelope is engaged to a man named Chadwick, who happens to be an officer in the British army (well, I suppose it could be called the “regular” army, since they were all technically British at that point). Chadwick is a cruel, intolerant man, and Penelope is beyond relieved when she meets Maximilian Broderick. By all outward appearances, Broderick is a foppish, droll dandy—but, in private, he’s handsome and intelligent, and the two quickly fall in love and marry. Broderick maintains his dandy façade as a way of masking his true identity: a dashing revolutionary vigilante who goes by the alias of “The Indigo Blade,” his secret identity unbeknownst even to his new wife. Unfortunately, their wedded bliss doesn’t last more than one evening, since Broderick is soon informed (by Penelope’s jealous cousin) that Penelope turned one of his men over to the Redcoats, resulting in the man’s death. Broderick won’t hear her pleas of innocence, and he completely turns on his new wife.

As the novel continues, Penelope tries to prove her innocence while also trying to rescue her brother, who’s being held as a traitor. Penelope feels she can only save her brother with the Indigo Blade’s help. But can the Blade see past his betrayal?

The Indigo Blade simply tries too hard. There are so many characters and so many subplots that the reader simply can’t keep track of them all. On top of the plot confusion, though, there’s also the issue of dialogue. It’s overwrought and melodramatic, and I couldn’t help but wonder if people really did talk that way in the eighteenth century. I found myself re-reading entire chapters in an effort to figure out what the heck was going on, because I kept getting bogged down by the long, expository speeches that each and every character would spout off.

At the same time, I couldn’t really get emotionally invested in any of the characters. Chadwick is a monster, but Broderick isn’t apparently much better, judging by his treatment of Penelope. And the worst part: she just takes it! After a few pages of protesting her innocence, Penelope gives up, which goes against my favorite type of romance heroine: the plucky, stubborn, strong woman.

Often, a mediocre book can still be salvaged by good love scenes, but this isn’t one of those times. There are only one or two scenes to begin with, and they’re entirely forgettable.

I had high hopes for The Indigo Blade, since it takes place in one of my favorite historical eras, but I was sad to see those hopes dashed. If I want to see some Colonial romance, I think I’d do better to read the love letters between John and Abigail Adams. You’d probably be better off doing the same.

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