The United States has never lived up to it’s stated ideals of equality and freedom. It hasn’t even always struggled towards those ideals. Right now, there is a strong push to move backwards. The resistance to moving towards a white supremacist, patriarchal land of the wealthy is also strong. Rose Learner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole have fired their own shots in the beautiful short story collection, Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances.
We make a lot of arguments about diversity and representation, but it is so much easier to indulge in what is familiar, even if it induces uncomfortable feelings with it’s uniform whiteness. Lerner, Milan and Cole are here to show you that bringing diversity into your romance reading will make it so much richer. It’s easy to tick off boxes on a diversity checklist. It’s harder to write three compelling short romances. Hamilton’s Battalion manages to do both. The authors lean in to the diversity to illustrate the commonality at the core of multiculturalism.
Rose Lerner writes a second chance at love story about a woman pretending to be a man so that she can fight for a new nation and a man from her past who had been a British loyalist. Rachel and Nathan are Jewish. Their faith is both central to their characters, what binds them, the conflict between them, and is transcended by their attraction to one another. “Promised Land” is rich with detail and emotion, and broke my heart at least 6 times.
If Lerner’s story was the emotional heart, Courtney Milan’s “The Pursuit of…” is the ideological heart of the collection. Thomas Jefferson and cheese are central to the growth of Henry and John’s relationship, and even to the flirting and foreplay. The Declaration of Independence strikes Henry, son of a British aristocrat, as a truth worth fighting for long before he meets John at the Battle of Yorktown. John, a former slave and free black man, is well aware of the hypocrisy of Jefferson’s words. Henry and John have to overcome the barriers of race before they deal with class and nationality.
And yes, you’re right. It is about my feelings. I desperately want to believe that I have the capacity, the right, to have everything that I’ve never dreamed possible. That even I—strange, odd, treasonous me, the Henry who can never focus on one thought long enough to finish a conversation—deserve happiness.”
It was a sweet and funny story.
Alyssa Cole tells a story more entrenched in the framing device of the book than any of the other stories. Mercy is Eliza Hamilton’s maid and assisting her in gathering stories about Alexander Hamilton’s war time experience.
Mercy sometimes wondered who Elizabeth Schuyler had been, and if she’d ever suspected that one day she would be sacrificed on the altar of her own devotion.
Mercy has had all the joy and most of the spark stamped out of her. When Andromeda Steil arrives to share her grandfather’s stories, her vibrant energy and unwillingness to be other than who she is chafes at Mercy. I wish we had spent more time with Mercy and Andromeda, or had more of their correspondence. I liked “That Could Be Enough” but wanted more. Mercy was so tight with her feelings, that I felt cheated out of her happiness.
All three stories are worth reading. You should buy this collection.