Review: Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Jen

This anthology cashes in on the popularity of Hamilton with a trio of love stories against the backdrop of characters marginalized by race, religion, and sexuality. I haven’t seen the musical that has captured the hearts of so many, but you really don’t need to be familiar with it to understand what’s going on here. Eliza Hamilton is collecting stories from her husband’s soldiers after his death about their history with him. Hamilton, the Yorktown, and the Revolutionary are the threads that hold the novellas together.

The first story is “The Promised Land” by Rose Lerner. Rachel is a woman posing as a man to fight in the war. She faked her own death to free herself from marriage to a man she didn’t love. She is Jewish, which is important to her, but just as important is the idea of being an American. But her ruse is put in jeopardy when her husband shows up at her camp.

Nathan is shocked to find his wife is alive after all these years. He’s been working as a spy for the American forces, inspired by the ideals his wife had before her “death.” Now that he sees she’s alive, he wants to win her back. Though part of her cares for him, Rachel doesn’t want to give up her ideals or go back to the life she walked away from all those years ago.

This story is very steeped in Jewish culture. I struggled a little with the wealth of words and cultural references I didn’t know. Though as the story went on, it all melted into the bigger picture. My big issue was that I just didn’t like the heroine. I understand that she was unhappy in her marriage and that Nathan wasn’t an ideal husband, but it was hard for me to sympathize with her when she talked about hating him for loving her… for resenting his efforts to make her happy. I found myself rooting for their HEA simply because I wanted Nathan to be happy.

This was my first experience with this author and while I appreciate reading a perspective that’s underrepresented in the genre, I just didn’t connect well with this one.

Courtney Milan’s “The Pursuit Of…” was a whole different story. I absolutely adored this m/m short about a freed slave who begrudgingly falls in love with a man he saved on the battlefield. The only thing John is interested in is his family. It’s the reason he fought for America and it’s the reason he has to rush back to Rhode Island. But he gains an unlikely traveling companion after sparing Henry at the Battle of Yorktown.

Henry is the son of a wealthy Brit, but he doesn’t want to go home. He talks way too much and isn’t always the sharpest tool in the shed. We see, along with John, though, that his heart is good and he wants to be a better man.

I loved watching these two fall for each other over the course of their journey. I loved that issues of race and privilege were vital elements, but the story still never lost track of being a romance. I even loved the stinky cheese. (Just go with me here.)

Worth picking up the book even for this one alone.

Alyssa Cole’s “That Could Be Enough” rounds out the collection. Lesbian romance is generally not my cuppa-tea, but I thought this story was well told. It featured Mrs. Hamilton’s servant, Mercy, who has been burned by love and has vowed never to indulge in the emotion again. Then the brash and beautiful Andromeda visits the house to share her grandfather’s story of serving with the widow’s late husband.

The dressmaker sees something worth trying to unravel in the tightly wound Mercy. Slowly, she teaches her that love can be worth the risk. And sometimes when you love, you can be loved in return.

Overall, the Milan story was the best for me, but I enjoyed the anthology as a whole. I don’t know that I’ve read any romance from this time period and it was a fun change of pace.

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author

Click to purchase: Amazon

Hamilton’s Battalion
by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole
Release Date: October 17, 2017

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