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Is love complicated or a complication? McMahon (The Alchemist's Daughter) explores this issue in this historical novel set during the Crimean War. Mariella Lingwood is a proper Victorian young lady. She is in love with a distant cousin and well-respected surgeon, Henry Thewell. But the relationship changes when Mariella's dear first cousin Rosa enters the picture. Henry and Rosa are in the Crimea as a surgeon and a nurse, respectively, and Henry falls ill and is sent to Italy to recover. When Mariella rushes to his side, it is Rosa's name he raves in his delirium. And when Rosa is reported missing, Mariella does something unexpected. She travels to the front lines of battle to search for her cousin and learn the truth. But in the midst of war, she finds chaos, which rattles the foundations of her existence, and Mariella must discover her strength and fight for what is truly important. McMahon's complex plot makes for an atypical but satisfying read, even if the ending feels a tad abrupt. Recommended for all fiction collections.
—Anna M. Nelson