Lorena Hughes’ second novel drops a homicide thriller right into a simmering story of sibling rivalry, gender-bending impersonation, and chocolate, and the result’s scrumptiously readable. As in her debut, The Sisters of Alameda Street (2017), The Spanish Daughter vibrantly recreates the creator’s native Ecuador.
In 1920, the coastal metropolis of Vinces is thought for its European structure and cacao manufacturing. An skilled chocolatier, María Purificación de Lafont y Toledo, referred to as Puri, sails from Seville to declare an inheritance from her late father, cacao plantation proprietor Don Armand, who had deserted her and her mom a long time earlier. She discovers, to her shock, that somebody needs her useless.
Aboard the ship to Ecuador, Puri’s husband Cristóbal is killed in an assault meant for her, and so Puri disguises herself as Cristóbal—decreasing her voice, carrying his garments, and donning false facial hair—to decide who needed to steal her rightful legacy. Puri surprisingly learns that her father had a second household, however whereas her half-siblings are resentful over Don Armand’s will, they deal with “Don Cristóbal” with respect and don’t appear particularly murderous.
This household has secrets and techniques aplenty, although, and Puri should sneak across the hacienda with out letting her disguise slip, a problem when she’s not snug driving horses, and when the dashing plantation administrator takes her ingesting and to go to prostitutes (these scenes and Puri’s reactions are hilarious). The story explores gender roles with thought-provoking understanding. The plot feels initially jumpy when the point of view switches to Puri’s half-sisters at totally different instances previously, however these segments serve to illustrate household dynamics whereas including to the puzzle.
It nearly appears inconceivable there could possibly be a satisfying ending to this complicated state of affairs, however there’s, very a lot so, and the novel’s ambiance is as wealthy as Puri’s chocolate recipes.
The Spanish Daughter was printed final December by Kensington, and I reviewed it from NetGalley for the Historical Novels Review. I’d additionally reviewed The Sisters of Alameda Street when it got here out and look ahead to extra works by this creator.