Archive | 10:37 AM

Book Review: The Tory by T.J. London (4/5)

10 Sep

I heard about getting an ARC of the audiobook for this one almost too late. It was the last day to sign up and I’m glad I got in under the wire. London was in a writers group with me back in 2013-2014 time frame and I’ve seen her a few times since through a mutual friend we both made in the group. It’s been a few years since I saw her and workshopped with her and I know she’s been busy writing in the meantime. We workshopped a scene from her series at one point, but I can’t recall the details so I’m not sure if it was from this book or one later in the series. Anyway, it was fun to read something written by an author I know!

Cover image via the author

The Tory (Rebels and Redcoats Saga #1) by T.J. London

Summary:

His King or His Conscience…which will he choose?

It is the winter of 1776, and Captain John Carlisle, one of His Majesty’s not-so-finest, has gone back to the scene of the crime to right a wrong so dark it left a permanent stain on what was once an illustrious career and left a man broken, defeated, in search of justice…

In an effort to win back his commission, he must discover the true nature of the relationship between the Six Nations of the Iroquois and the Colonial Army. Undercover as a war profiteer, John travels to the treacherous Mohawk River Valley and infiltrates local society, making friends with those he’s come to betray. But a chance meeting with a beautiful half Oneida innkeeper, whose tragic history is integrally linked to his own, will provide him with the intelligence he needs to complete his mission—and devastate her people.

Now, as the flames of war threaten to consume the Mohawk Valley, John has the chance to not only serve King and country, but to clear his name. When the truth he uncovers ties his own secrets to those in the highest positions of the British military and threatens the very life of the woman he’s come to love, he will be forced to make a choice…

I’m a big fan of historical fiction but not a huge romance fan so I was iffy going into this book. I thought it started off strong and I liked the historical background for John’s character and the integration of the natives and Dellis’s plotline. Overall, the book set up well for a longer series. I had some minor quibbles with the relationship building between John and Dellis but I think the arc overall is strong. I enjoyed the political arc to the story a bit more, though. That’s just a preference.

I liked John’s character a lot. His back-and-forth loyalty between his duty and his heart was really interesting and I liked how it led him in two directions and how he reconciled that. I also liked that he wasn’t immune to injury. I didn’t get a sick pleasure from seeing him injured, but I get frustrated when the main character seems to come out of every situation unscathed so I was glad he bled. I didn’t find Dellis as believable. She seemed a little hot/cold at times without much logic for why she switched between the two. It made me feel a little lost during her arguments with John and I was always a bit confused about why she was triggered one way or the other.

John was my favorite character and I feel like the series will overall be more of a character study of his situation and I look forward to that. He has a strong backstory and I think he’s leading toward a strong final showdown in the final book.

These weren’t characters I really sympathized with or related to. I find that often in historical novels. The concerns of people 250 years ago are quite different from mine today. I understood their desires and needs, though, so I still enjoyed the novel and seeing if they’d get what they wanted.

T.J. London
Image via the author

I thought John and his men were the most entertaining part of the book. I liked that they were able to maintain an upbeat attitude and that they stuck together when things got tough. They’re the team I’d want to be on in a war or an undercover situation.

I thought the fights between Dellis and John were a little too frequent. They seemed to end very badly but resolve when John got hurt or Dellis is in danger without the object of their fight being discussed too much. I didn’t feel her reasons for being angry with him were merited much of the time. Though when she got mad at him for being with Celeste, I was all for it.

I haven’t listened to an audiobook with four narrators in a long time and that was quite a treat. This book was narrated by Shane East (John), Tara Langella (Dellis), Marnye Young (Celeste), and Patrick Zeller (Rodger). I thought East sounded a lot like Sean Bean and I really enjoyed his narration. Langella was great as well. I couldn’t strongly distinguish between Langella and Young but Celeste wasn’t a huge player in this book so she didn’t have much. I have a suspicion she and Rodger will be larger players in later books so their voices will be more apparent as the series goes on.

John has a lot on his conscious throughout the book. He’s battling with something he regrets from his past, trying to do his job and follow orders, and also finds himself romantically entangled. He has to face his past soon because there doesn’t seem to be a way forward with Dellis unless he does. And his mission seems to be in jeopardy because of it as well. Facing his demons is sure to be a big theme for the remainder of the series.

Writer’s Takeaway: Historical fiction is hard. You have to know your time period well and know the culture of the place you’re writing, too. I think London has done this well. When I was in a writing group with her, I know she traveled to the parts of New York she’s writing about and I think that would be really helpful to learn as much as possible about the area and understand the geography of it well.

An enjoyable read and a well-read audiobook. Four out of Five Stars

BEFORE YOU GO! I took place in the media blitz for this audiobook and posted about it yesterday. Please check that out and find an opportunity to win a Tory Prize Pack. It’s free, go look!

Until next time, write on.

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