We were all taught that thirteen colonies united against the British in the American Revolution—nothing is ever mentioned of the fourteenth colony, the one that went loyalist, fought against the Revolution, and paid a devastating price: Florida.
Coquina Hard opens amidst the true story of the British military crushing the rebellion of thousands of Catholics who’d been tricked into slavery by a British aristocrat, Dr. Turnbull, sailed to Florida, and forced to build a town (New Smyrna, which exists to this day).
One of those enslaved is orphan Toria Brighton who escapes and falls in love with a handsome Georgia patriot who gives her the chance of returning home. Instead, Toria chooses to return to New Smyrna to lead survivors to freedom in St. Augustine (the daring escape is true and well documented historically) while the American Revolution explodes around her.
Mabel Crowley, the only child of a wealthy English banker, wants nothing more than to be rid of her last name and wed her first love, stable-boy Charlie Archer, whose own hopes reside in becoming a partner in his father’s livery yard. Her parents forbid the union and whisk the impulsive child away to Bath so that she might forget her troubles. Distraught and vowing that she will never love again, Mabel impulsively accepts a teaching position while on vacation in Bath, certain that this will ensure her spinsterhood and prove her undying love for Charlie. Irene Hartley, a five-year-old student desperately in love with her new teacher, persuades her parents to offer Mabel a position as governess to their growing brood. Her father is Theodore Hartley, the obscenely wealthy and renowned railroad tycoon. Theodore sees how his daughter has grown attached to Mabel, and after his wife dies in childbirth, he makes Mabel an offer of a permanent nature to make his eldest daughter happy. Still madly in love with Charlie, Mabel returns home to find out whether he has carried the same love in his heart in the years they’ve been apart. She finds him boarding a train, in uniform, ready to serve his country in World War I. Will she act once again on impulse, or will she make her decision based on hope for her future? A sweeping romance of love, longing, and the nature of hope, E.H. Nolan’s debut is a moving family saga that probes the deepest recesses of the human heart with subtlety, profound empathy, and prose filled with the emotion of open spaces and words left unsaid. Delving into the nature of sacrifice, family secrets, and the important of keeping promises and honouring commitments, Mabel Crowley captures the essence of the human condition as it delivers a passionate portrait of a life consumed by the power of love.