River of Painted Birds
Tessa Bridal, author
When Isabel Keating flees 18th century Ireland after killing her abusive husband, she dresses as a man so that she can board a ship bound for America. It is on the journey that Isabel meets the ship's owner, Garzón Moreau. Like Isabel, he, too, is something of an outcast, albeit a wealthy one, thanks to his skills as a smuggler. They both have strong reasons to resist a relationship that goes any deeper. Garzon is half Indian and well aware that the Catholic Church forbids mixed marriages. And Isabel is a fugitive with a troubling secret. Once they reach the ship's expected—and Isabel's unexpected—destination of Uruguay, Isabel and Garzon join forces with an unconventional priest. The priest is determined to save the native people from slavery, so he leaves the safety of his mission near Montevideo to establish a new mission inland, on territory controlled by Garzón. Built on the shifting sands of personal and political power struggles, this partnership provides them with freedom from close scrutiny from the Crown and the Church, while forcing them and the Indians who join them on their new venture to make choices that will affect not only their own lives, but the future of the Spanish colony itself.