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Historical Fiction Meets Multicultural Romance in ‘Ana Maria and the Fox’ by Liana De la Rosa

Historical Fiction Meets Multicultural Romance in ‘Ana Maria and the Fox’ by Liana De la Rosa

I have been enjoying the new trend of more multicultural romances, and Ana Maria and the Fox is a refreshing addition. Ana Maria Luna Valdés and her sisters are Mexican heiresses with connections to the democratically elected government. When the French invade in 1863, they are secretly sent to England to lie low until they can return to Mexico. But their uncle, who also happens to be the Mexican ambassador, has other plans: Why not use his beautiful, lady-like nieces to gather support for the Mexican regime?

Experiencing their first taste of freedom in London, the sisters are tasked with entering society and attempting to shine a sympathetic light on Mexico’s plight. Member of Parliament Gideon Fox is also trying to rally political favor, attempting to secure the votes he needs to put forth a measure to abolish the Atlantic slave trade once and for all.

For context, the Atlantic slave trade involved the transportation of enslaved African people by slave traders mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and its Middle Passage and existed from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Britain was one of the most successful slave-trading countries. Together with Portugal, the two countries accounted for about 70 percent of all Africans transported to the Americas. It is estimated that Britain transported over three million Africans (of whom fewer arrived alive) to the British colonies in the Caribbean and in North and South America and to other countries.

With that being said, the historical setting and political landscape get a lot of attention in this story. Ana María’s sisters are also highlighted in such a way that they will be the subjects for future books. Because of this, the book feels like it slants more towards historical fiction. The romance sometimes feels secondary. Ana María and Gideon’s relationship doesn’t really pick up and go until more than halfway through the book.

Gideon Fox, whose grandmother was enslaved, has worked hard to become a member of Parliament. On Ana Maria’s side, she’s engaged to be married to one of her father’s political allies. Gideon is devoted to his career, and a foreign wife would not help his cause. Nonetheless, these two find themselves constantly drawn to each other. Ana María and Gideon share an attraction, but neither are free to act on their feelings.

Despite having a fiancé — handpicked by her father back home — Ana María can’t help but be attracted to Gideon. He has his own political storyline, fighting for a cause that is close to his heart as the grandson of a formerly enslaved woman. Gideon has to decide what’s more important: his heart or his votes.

The Luna sisters have been isolated and controlled in Mexico, completely under their father’s thumb, and are not close at the beginning of the story. But their sibling relationship develops and grows. They start to stand up for one another, like when their chaperone suggests that sister Isobel needs to lighten her complexion or after a situation arises at a house party.

Ana María is an interesting woman. As the oldest daughter, she has been raised to do her father’s bidding and has lived with the pressure to be perfect in his eyes. The strain of this follows her through various points in the book, and I enjoyed the progression of her coming into her own. She’s witty, charming, and full of fire. I also love that she seems to have an amazing fashion sense.

Her interactions with Gideon were always beautiful. Gideon is driven, ambitious, and cares deeply about his cause. He wants to help make the world a better place and is using all his political power to abolish slaver ships docking at foreign ports. While he is a man of little emotion to others, he blossoms when he is around Ana María. She is determined to expand her mind, and Gideon grows to appreciate her opinions and world view.

Historical fiction is not a genre I read very often, but this book has changed my mind. The writing is so descriptive and fluid. There is some spiciness to the book, appropriate to the place and time. The author, De la Rosa, does an excellent job of writing the dual perspectives and giving each their own voice. The plot was exciting and full of tension. This book takes place over the course of several months but the time does not drag at all. 

I give this book at 5/5 stars and recommend if you’re wanting to expand your reading horizons into more multicultural stories. It’s a slow burn, for sure. But, if you can stick with it, there’s a lot to love about this story.

Ana Maria and the Fox is available April 4, 2023, wherever books are sold.

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