Romance - Historical
324 Pages
Reviewed on 06/16/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Indigo is a work of fiction in the historical romance, interpersonal drama, and adventure subgenres. Penned by author Latrell E. Mickler, this vivid novel depicts the journey of Caty and Rafael from their homeland in Minorca to East Florida, lured by promises of a better life by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. However, their hopes are shattered as they encounter cruelty and virtual slavery in the British colony of New Smyrna. After escaping to St. Augustine, they face further challenges, including separation by a hurricane. Caty finds herself pregnant and impoverished, while Rafael assumes a new identity. Amidst the changing flags and wild grandeur of eighteenth-century Florida, they navigate separate lives filled with adventure among Indians, pirates, and fellow colonists, yet are unable to forget each other.

Author Latrell E. Mickler has crafted a truly captivating journey through the tumultuous landscape of eighteenth-century Florida that brings together emotive themes of resilience, love, and acceptance amidst the backdrop of colonial struggles and natural disasters. The vivid descriptions are plentiful and evoke a sense of place and attitude, transporting us back to a time of upheaval and uncertainty, where characters like Caty and Rafael grapple with the harsh realities of survival while clinging to hope and love. It is clear to see how well-researched the historical details are, immersing us in the rich historical tapestry of Florida's colonial era without ever glorifying or sensationalizing some of the darker aspects of how people treated one another back then. I also really adored the confident narrative voice, which keeps the plot on track but also gives us a close, emotive insight into how the heroes feel as different challenges land in their path. Overall, Indigo is a captivating tale that offers both adventure and heart, and I’d certainly recommend it to historical fiction fans everywhere.

Kimberlee J Benart

Indigo by Latrell E. Mickler is a historical romance set in 18th-century Florida against the territorial power struggles between England, Spain, and the new American democracy. Caty and Rafael join fourteen hundred indentured servants recruited from Minorca, Greece, and Italy to work on the New Smyrna indigo plantation in British East Florida. Promised land and opportunity, they suffer instead under brutal working conditions and debilitating poverty. When Rafael kills an overseer attempting to rape Caty, they seek asylum in St. Augustine and come under the protection of a compassionate businessman. He intercedes for them with the governor. Caty is allowed to remain but Rafael is ordered back. When Caty is told that her beloved husband has been lost at sea, her world is turned upside down.

In Indigo, Latrell E. Mickler gives us an exciting adventure that weaves the lives of two Minorcan immigrants into the complex and rugged social, political, and economic fabric of late 1700s Florida. Blending historical figures and events with fictional ones, the well-paced and dramatic plot sweeps the reader across the Florida peninsula and into the Caribbean, providing insight into the daily lives and cultures of Native Americans, European colonists, indentured servants, enslaved Africans, traders, and pirates as they struggle to survive and prosper in a contentious environment. At its heart, it’s an inspirational tale of an abiding love that miraculously overcomes seemingly impossible obstacles, but I found the history of the indentured servants who came to Florida, some of whose descendants live there today, absolutely fascinating.

Edith Wairimu

Indigo by Latrell E. Mickler is a sweeping, remarkable novel that intertwines a couple’s extraordinary journey with the history of eighteenth-century Florida. When Caterina and Rafael leave their drought-ravaged home in Minorca, they are excited at the prospect of building a better life in Florida. But soon after their arrival, they realize that Dr. Andrew Turnbull, owner of the plantation New Smyrna, never intended to keep his promises. Instead of receiving payment, they are enslaved and mistreated. They decide to flee to St. Augustine but their newfound freedom is short-lived. Their lives take different paths and they are lost to each other. Still, their memories of their time together remain as Florida’s political landscape transforms and as their personal lives continue to change.

Latrell E. Mickler has created a powerful story rich with intriguing historical detail that will transport readers to eighteenth-century Florida. Caty and Rafael’s story is a brilliant portrait of redemption with themes of courage and hope skillfully explored through their experiences. Their heart-breaking and hopeful story takes place in different settings that offer a glimpse into the lives of Florida’s inhabitants during the era. Through Mickler’s masterful storytelling, the thoughts and emotions of the characters are brought out as they face unexpected turns in their lives. I found the novel mesmerizing and gripping. While Caty's and Rafael’s lives follow different paths, they are intricately interwoven through dreams, visions, and memories. Indigo by Latrell E. Mickler is an unforgettable romance novel with endearing characters and moving scenes. Readers will love its historical descriptions and unpredictable, deftly-structured plot.

Lorraine Cobcroft

At the start of Latrell E. Mickler’s Indigo, Rafael and his love, the beautiful young Caterina, are on their way by ship from Minorca to a new life in Florida. Caterina’s parents accompany them but die on the journey. When the young couple reaches their destination, nothing is as was promised. They are abused slaves of the cruel master they had agreed to be indentured to for five years, and it looks as though he will never set them free. When Rafael defends his young bride’s honor, the couple is forced to run away. Caterina finds a new home with kind folk in St Augustine. Rafael is forced to return to slavery, except his ship is wrecked and he is believed dead. Caterina weds again. Rafael, meanwhile, has been saved by Indians and becomes one of them. Having lost his memory in the accident, he also marries again before recovering his memory. These star-crossed lovers then struggle to live with overwhelming grief and loss, until an astonishing event presents them with a conundrum that, given that they are both devout Catholics, seems impossible to solve. Will they ever find happiness?
Latrell E. Mickler takes her readers back to the time of the American Revolution. In British Florida, on a plantation where indigo is produced, and later in St Augustine, we learn about the world Minorcans, Greeks, and Italians migrated to in the mid-1700s and the unrest between the Americans and British at the time. We join Rafael in an Indian settlement, and we see how the First People lived and learn about their culture. We fish and hunt with them. We learn about the geography and the flora and fauna of the southern part of Florida. Accompanying the characters, we sail around the islands off the southeast tip of the U.S.A., meeting pirates and learning of the risks seamen of that era faced. While taking us on a journey through time and exotic places, Mickler weaves a beautiful love story that rips at the heartstrings and that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. The author has researched extensively to present a classic work of historical fiction that I found thoroughly fascinating and impressively educational. But Mickler is also a master storyteller, and Indigo is a beautiful and deeply moving love story. Indigo will appeal equally to lovers of historical fiction, romance, and drama. But it will be best appreciated by readers who love to be transported into foreign worlds and allowed to walk, for a time, in the footsteps of people whose culture, lifestyle, and understanding of the natural world are radically different from our own. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read. I plan to read it again, much more slowly this time, with a focus on learning. Indigo is absolutely a five-star novel. It’s truly a masterpiece.

Grant Leishman

Indigo by Latrell E. Mickler is historical fiction at its finest; a story of love, loss, courage, and commitment set against an easily recognizable historical background. Caty and Rafael, along with many of their fellow Minorcans, Greeks, and Italians, set sail for a new life in the British East Florida colony of the Americas. Promised a grant of land, freedom of religion, and endless opportunities after completing their five-year indentured labor on Dr. Andrew Turnbull’s plantation in East Florida, they find that harsh reality is far from the lofty promises. Protecting his beloved pregnant Caty from being raped by a brutal overseer, Rafael kills the man and the pair flees from the plantation, seeking help in nearby St. Augustine. Taken in and sheltered by the wealthy and kindly Joseph Adams and his wife, it seems there might be the possibility of some hope. When Rafael’s ship is sunk by a hurricane and he is presumed drowned, Caty must face life alone, without her beloved husband and now with a child. Rafael has survived, though, and is adopted into a local Indian tribe. Caty's and Rafael’s lives now follow parallel but separate journeys, neither forgetting their one great love – each other.

Indigo is an example of what I love most about historical fiction. It takes well-known, well-researched historical places, events, and people, and then weaves a beautiful story around them. Author Latrell E. Mickler has created a wonderful cast of characters. Caty and Rafael embody a love so powerful and true that it can transcend the many tragedies and pains that both encounter in their lives. I appreciated the author’s focus on detail and setting. A reader is instantly drawn into the horrific conditions, the heat, the mosquitos, the harsh treatment, and the fragility of life in the colonies, especially for those at the bottom of the social ladder. The author immerses the reader in this eighteenth-century world and identifies deeply with the characters. The story is conveyed through two different perspectives and we follow both Rafael and Caty through their separate adventures but are privy to both protagonists' innermost thoughts and fears. Part of a good historical author’s role is to educate readers on the period in which the story is set. This book does a wonderful job of explaining the shifting political climate and tensions between the participants as well as the development of the East Florida region of the period. Ultimately, though, this is a love story of the highest caliber and one that will resonate with all who admire the courage and fortitude of those early pioneers who explored, settled, and frequently exploited foreign lands and their original inhabitants. I enjoyed this immensely and can highly recommend it.