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An Enthralling Multi-layered Mystery - an Editorial Review of "The Burning Bride"

Book Blurb:

A bullet barely misses Manhattan society writer Louisa Delafield, and her publisher insists she leave the city for what seems like an easy assignment in Florida until a wedding guest winds up dead with a stolen diamond in his hand.

Louisa investigates the mysterious death, but finds the answers hard to come by when a mesmerizing French man distracts her from her duties.

In New York, Louisa’s assistant, Ellen Malloy, infiltrates an anarchists’ enclave to discover who shot at Louisa and risks losing the woman of her dreams in her pursuit.

Louisa and Ellen travel parallel paths as they confront dynamite-wielding anarchists, hungry alligators, and a raging fire, but the toughest obstacles they face are their own wayward hearts.

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Author Bio:

Trish MacEnulty grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and earned degrees from the University of Florida and Florida State University. For 20 years, she lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was a Professor of English at Johnson & Wales University, teaching writing and film classes. She now lives in Florida with her husband, cat, and two dogs and teaches journalism. In addition to her historical novels, she has written novels, stories, plays, and a memoir under the name "Pat MacEnulty." She currently writes book reviews and features for The Historical Novel Review.

Check out her website for book club visits, reader guides for her historical fiction, upcoming events, book news and more:

Editorial Review:

It is 1914 and Louisa Delafield is not your average newspaper journalist. While she is known for her articles detailing the lives and experiences of the wealthy as a society journalist, she also writes under the pseudonym Beatrice Milton as well. Writing as Beatrice, Louisa is a muckraking journalist exposing some of New York’s wealthiest. While Louisa is attending the wedding of Hugh Garret to prepare for her next society article, she is shot at and a bullet narrowly misses her. Forest Galloway owns the paper that Louisa writes for and he feels it is necessary to send her away on assignment to Florida. While Louisa is in Florida, her Irish immigrant assistant, Ellen, finds herself involved with a group of anarchists that might jeopardize her relationship with her lover, Hester. The Burning Bride by Trish MacEnulty will leave readers enthralled in the multi-layered mysteries that Louisa and Ellen find themselves deeply entwined in.

Louisa paced back and forth across the Persian rug. She felt a burning sensation in her chest, and kept thinking about the bullet that had been intended for her. If she hadn’t bent down, it would have hit her instead. Why, she wondered.”

Set in 1914, the novel includes clear references to the time period and many of the famous and wealthy from that time such as the Rockefellers. The author does a great job incorporating historical qualities of the time period throughout the novel. One of the most interesting parts of the setting is that much of the book is set in Florida which is not a typical place for books set in this time period. MacEnulty’s descriptions of Florida and the characters that Louisa encounters in Florida are delightful. The characters even find themselves on an alligator farm. The descriptions are richly written and readers will easily find themselves transported back to 1914 Florida and New York.

The young man reached in the mouth and flicked the back of the tongue, drawing out his hand just before the jaws snapped shut with a loud clap. Daphne and Louisa both let out a little yelp and then giggled in relief as the young man stood up and raised both arms.”

The writing in The Burning Bride is well done. It is full of rich detail and is written in a way that readers will find themselves engaged in the story. MacEnulty understands her target audience and knows how to write in a way that will appeal to that audience. The target audience for The Burning Bride are those who enjoy historical fiction as well as those who love mysteries. Readers who root for the underdog uncovering the unsavory acts of the wealthy, famous, or political figures will also enjoy this one. It is also a great story for readers who love strong female characters.

She knew The Ledger would hardly mention the march. Their editorial policy was to ignore the poor and hope they would go away — except for the occasional Beatrice Milton column. But Louisa was off in Florida taking tango lessons! For all her complaints about the assignment, Louisa seemed to be enjoying the social scene in St. Augustine, judging by the stories she was sending in.”

One of the most interesting parts of The Burning Bride is the inclusion of what would have been controversial elements for the time period in which the novel is set. Suzie is Louisa’s colored servant who travels to Florida with her. Contrary to what would have been the prevalent attitude at the time towards African Americans, especially in the South, Louisa is incredibly kind and loving to Suzie. She treats her as a friend rather than a servant. Another element that is not usually seen in novels set in this time period is the same-sex relationship between Ellen and Hester. It is clear from the way Louisa mentions that relationship at the beginning of the book and the concern Ellen and Hester have about the servants knowing that this sort of relationship may not have been well-tolerated in 1914. MacEnulty’s inclusion of these relationships in her novel also makes her novel incredibly relevant to modern-day politics allowing the readers to better connect with the characters and situations. The characters in The Burning Bride are predominantly female which many readers will also appreciate.

She wasn’t sure she wanted to go back to New York. She had burned her bridges with the anarchists, but worse, Hester would not be waiting for her. She thought of Hester’s scent, her large brown eyes, the softness of her skin. How could Ellen have thrown it all away?”

Excellent writing rich in detail, strong, well-developed female characters, and a plot full of mysteries that is somehow relevant to modern times earn The Burning Bride by Trish MacEnulty a four out of five rating.

She and Suzie looked at each other for a moment, the memories of the past few weeks lingering somewhere in their gaze. Louisa had seen the disdain with which Negroes were treated, and now she could never forget. She had seen the mighty force of Suzie’s dignity in the face of that disdain.”

The Burning Bride by Trish MacEnulty will enthrall readers with strong female characters and an enthralling story full of mystery. Readers looking for a good story with an excellently written setting and plot development, The Burning Bride will easily check those boxes.


“The Burning Bride” by Trish MacEnulty receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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