cover image Eden's Gate

Eden's Gate

Karen Harper. Diamond Books (NY), $3.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55773-298-9

New York's Mohawk Valley during the French and Indian War is the setting for a familiar plot: a pampered mam'selle's true grit--and sexual ardor--are awakened by a red-blooded American. By creating confusion about the purpose of Claire Chandon's incessant journal-writing, Harper ( One Fervent Fire ) skillfully builds romantic tension between the young French actress, posing as a laundress to the British army, and Ethan Trent, an American frontiersman and staunch enemy of the French. by cre ating confusion about the purpose of Claire's incessant journal-writing. But the author miscalculates when she thrusts the lovers into a not-unwelcome marriage of necessity early on, a device that takes the vinegar out of later confrontations over Claire's divided loyalties. Harper sustains interest by placing the lovers' misunderstandings in the context of the 18th-century frontier's multicultural stew, where upper-class Tories, French nobility and American Indians of many tribes daily rubbed shoulders with German, Dutch, Scottish and Irish immigrants. This wider landscape lends Claire and Ethan's story authenticity and depth. (Dec.)