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"Evangeline," the beautiful poem recalling the cruel exile of the peaceful Acadians from their homeland during the French and Indian War, lead me to set Autumn Rose in Canada. My imagination swept to 18th-century French Acadie in today's Nova Scotia. I wondered how I would feel if my family had been snatched from their homes, meals still on the tables, fires in the hearth, and marched to ships with only the clothing on their back and what belongings they could grab on the way out. Children were separated from parents, men from wives and sweethearts, and scattered around the globe, not just to Louisiana, the best known destination. No one wanted them, not even their fellow Frenchmen.
The Acadians wanted to be left alone in the English/French conflict, but when they promised neutrality to the English, the French threatened them with Indian attacks if Acadian men did not volunteer for the French home guards. When these men surrendered a French fort to the English after little or no resistance, the English decided, despite their story of the threats, that the Acadians had to go.
While the men were lured into towns by meetings to discuss a treaty of neutrality with British officials, the English army raged through the countryside collecting the women and children to herd them onto waiting ships, many of the vessels unfit for sea. The men were left with two choices, either follow their families or escape into the wilds, where the once peaceful Acadians, now consumed with fury, began bloody raids which made the Indians' look mild in comparison.
My hero, Acadian trapper Alain Beaujeu, is desperate to find his mother and sisters, who were carried off on ships bound for any location which would accept the refugees. Knowing they could be anywhere, from the colonies to Europe, he conducts a raid of his own on an influential New York merchant's home, abducting his daughter to force him to help locate the Beaujeu family.
He takes Tamson Stewart to Montreal. Despite her initial hatred, when she realizes his motive and sees the deplorable conditions of the few who escaped to Quebec-including his dying father-she can't help but be moved to sympathy.
She no longer sees Alain as a greedy fiend driven by bloodlust, but a man driven by his love for his family-the same fierce love he offers her. Tamson watches in horror as Alain is drawn into the treacherous French regime in order to protect her and try and help his people.
She becomes Alain's ally and lover and would sooner die at his side than have him risk capture and execution trying to return her to her home. The war, however, often leaves one little choice and soon, both must flee for their lives.
Look for book two of this Canadian Cousins series, WINTER ROSE (Dec. '97, Zebra Lovegram), set in American-occupied Montreal and New York during the Revolutionary War, when Quebec almost became our 14th colony.
AUTUMN ROSE is Linda's 13th of 15 historicals written for Zebra/Pinnacle Books.
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