For at least six months, one of my most highly anticipated books has been Ana María and The Fox by Liana De La Rosa. The first in her Luna Sisters series, this historical romance is set in the 1860s and follows three Mexican heiresses fleeing their home country for England. The eldest sister, Ana María, is immediately drawn to a biracial politician, Gideon Fox, but they have a lot to overcome before they can consider a happily ever after with each other.
Special thanks to the publicists at Penguin Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!
In July 1863, Ana María Luna Valdés and her two younger sisters arrive in London, escaping Mexico during the Second French Occupation. Although their politician father wants them to lie low, the three instead aim to bolster England’s perception of Mexico, hopefully enough to help Mexico in the war. Soon, Ana María meets Gideon Fox, a politician who’s worked hard to get into this career. The grandson of a formerly enslaved woman, Gideon has significant ideals and goals, especially related to the abolition of slavery and slave ships around the world. Ana María and Gideon are well-matched, yet would being together make sense for Gideon’s career? Would it make sense if Ana María intends to return to Mexico and her aloof fiancé there? It may take the threat of danger before these two are pushed together.
Ana María and The Fox is at once a breath of fresh air within historical romance and the kind of novel that will appeal to fans of the genre. It’s distinctly political (comparable to novels by Evie Dunmore and Harper St. George) and highlights people of color within the Victorian era (consider Adriana Herrera, Vanessa Riley, and Mimi Matthews). It’s a slow-burn but steamy romance, as well as a story of sisterhood and identity and acceptance. Liana De La Rosa has infused this novel with so many layers, making for a delectable read to be savored.
When the story begins in July 1863, Ana María, Isabel, and Gabriela have just arrived in London after fleeing Mexico and the Second French Occupation. The daughters of Mexican politicians, they’re safest far away from home. But instead of lying low, their uncle Artúro intends for them to bolster England’s perception of Mexicans, thereby encouraging help for the nation at war. So the three sisters attend numerous events, aiming to charm and impress.
This is how the eldest sister, Ana María, meets Gideon Fox. Gideon is a biracial man who has worked his way into England’s Parliament, where he hopes to make great changes for his country and for the world. His grandmother was enslaved in the United States before escaping to England. As such, Gideon’s principal goals are in abolishing slavery and the slave trade worldwide.
Gideon and the three Luna sisters frequently experience microaggressions related to their race or, in the case of the three sisters, their culture or gender. Being held to higher standards is actually one of the issues that stands in the way of Gideon pursuing Ana María—being with her could ruin his reputation and his influence in Parliament.
As both Gideon and the Luna sisters are closely connected to politics, discussions of political issues arise frequently. I loved hearing their unique perspectives and opinions on issues of the time. They talk about slavery, women’s rights, racism, social class, and even how to balance Darwin’s theory of evolution with their Catholic backgrounds. There are so many intelligent and thought-provoking passages throughout Ana María and The Fox! I wrote down several standout quotes throughout my reading.
Another overarching theme within the novel—and surely within the whole series—is the value of sisterhood. The three Luna sisters were raised to be distant from each other, even adversarial. When the story begins, they don’t get along well. But upon arriving in England, so different from Mexico and so far from their controlling parents, the sisters begin to rely on each other. They each understand what the others are going through, they each long for their home, and yet they each also revel in their newfound freedom. Ana María, Isabel, and Gabby are so different from one another, yet they learn to trust and love each other like never before. I loved seeing their sisterhood grow throughout the novel. As the elder of two myself, I could identify with Ana María in many ways. I’m also very close with my younger sister, and always enjoy seeing sisters support each other in books.
Of course, the romance here is also superb. It’s a very slow burn; Gideon and Ana María spend a few months getting to know each other, feeling drawn to one another but not at liberty to act on such feelings. Ana is engaged to a man back in Mexico; never mind that she hardly likes him and he flaunts a mistress he seems to prefer. Furthermore, Ana María does intend to return home, so it makes no sense to pursue a relationship in England. Gideon, for his part, must think of his career. But the two do grow to like and trust each other. It just takes a little push to get them together, and from there, their romance flourishes rapidly. They’re a sweet couple who will surely become a political force to reckon with!
Speaking of the little push… this book does weave in an exciting plot point later on, ultimately leading to an action-packed scene. It’s thrilling and gives Ana María and The Fox an added kick.
Ana María and The Fox is a delightful novel, at once fiercely intelligent and swooningly romantic. I fell in love with all the characters, from the titular couple to the younger Luna sisters to the family and friends surrounding them all. I can hardly wait for the next book, Isabel and The Rogue, about middle sister Isabel and Captain Sirius Dawson. The third book will follow youngest sister Gabriela (Gabby) and Sebastian, Duke of Whitfield. Already, the Luna Sisters series feels like it will be one of my very favorites among historical romances.
Liana De La Rosa is a writer to watch, but also one whose back catalogue I plan to read. While I await the next Luna Sisters installment, I have two of her novellas to get through first.
Get the Book
You can buy Ana María and The Fox here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
|Ana María and The Fox by Liana De La Rosa|
|Series||Luna Sisters (#1)|
|Number of Pages||352|
|Format I Read||ebook (NetGalley)|
|Original Publication Date||April 4, 2023|
A forbidden love between a Mexican heiress and a shrewd British politician makes for a tantalizing Victorian season.
Ana María Luna Valdés has strived to be the perfect daughter, the perfect niece, and the perfect representative of the powerful Luna family. So when Ana María is secretly sent to London with her sisters to seek refuge from the French occupation of Mexico, she experiences her first taste of freedom far from the judgmental eyes of her domineering father. If only she could ignore the piercing looks she receives across ballroom floors from the austere Mr. Fox.
Gideon Fox elevated himself from the London gutters by chasing his burning desire for more: more opportunities, more choices. For everyone. Now, as a member of Parliament, Gideon is on the cusp of securing the votes he needs to put forth a measure to abolish the Atlantic slave trade once and for all—a cause that is close to his heart as the grandson of a formerly enslaved woman. The charmingly vexing Ana María is a distraction he must ignore.
But when Ana María finds herself in the crosshairs of a nefarious nobleman with his own political agenda, Gideon knows he must offer his hand as protection . . . but will this Mexican heiress win his heart as well?
Excerpt from Ana María and The Fox
“You’ve never had alcohol?” Gabby’s expression turned impish. “Not even a gulp of tequila to celebrate el Día de la Independencia?”
“Of course not,” she sputtered. “Have you?”
Isabel snorted while Gabby threw her hands wide. “Sí. Many times.”
Ana María’s gaze darted between her sisters, who stared back with exasperation.
“Siempre tan perfecta,” Isabel murmured, but there was no ire in her words.
“Not anymore it seems. And the worst part is that the only reason I even knew what had happened was that Señor Fox told me,” she moaned, dropping her head to her chest.
“He strikes me as an honorable man, Ana. Surely he told you out of concern rather than mockery,” Isabel said gently.
Mr. Fox’s charcoal eyes had intently inspected her when he’d first arrived for their waltz, and she’d been touched by his regard. Now she knew it stemmed from something darker . . .
“I believe he was, it’s just . . .” Ana María nibbled on her lip. “When he warned me that my behavior had generated talk, I was disappointed.”
“Why were you disappointed?”
“Because I felt judged.” She pursed her mouth. “It reminded me of how Father would scold me for the smallest infraction.”
“Oh,” Isabel whispered, while Gabby scowled.
“But Father is not here.” Gabby slapped her hands on her thighs. “We have been tasked by Tío Arturo to socialize and befriend members of society. And while what happened tonight was regrettable, it does not mean you need to take up Father’s switch simply because he’s not here to wield it himself.”
Gabby’s declaration landed like a blow, and Ana María gasped a breath. Was that what she was doing? Punishing herself for infractions she knew would have displeased their father?
“Was that the only thing Señor Fox warned you about?” Isabel asked.
She huffed. “Sadly, no. Apparently the British do not like it if you smile too brightly or laugh too loudly.”
“Truly?” Isabel wrinkled her nose.
Ana María splayed her hands. “According to what he overheard.”
“How ridiculous,” Gabby growled. “Smiling and laughing is somehow a sin? Or is it only when a woman does it?”
“Considering how Lord Simon and his friends were just as, if not more, inebriated than I was but no one was condemning them, I’d say society’s judgment is not as readily concerned with men’s behavior,” Ana María grumbled.
“I swear that people thrive on being critical of women.” Gabby crossed her arms over her chest, her expression mulish. “If it was not Father’s reproach, it’s now these nonsensical edicts.”
“Perhaps Señor Fox thought to warn me because I imagine he knows a bit about being an outsider,” Ana María offered.
The sisters exchanged a knowing look.
“Which was kind of him,” Isabel said.
And she had lashed out at his kindness. Remorse festered in her chest. Surely her waltz with Mr. Fox was the last time she would ever spend in his arms.
“I had thought things would be different here. That I would be different here.” Her shoulders sank. “And yet I’m still the same Ana, always wanting to please others.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Gabby patted the back of her hand. “And you are different—you were borracha at the ball, and I am immensely proud of you.”
A bark of laughter burst from Ana María’s lips before she knew what she was doing. Gabby grinned openly, while Isabel’s trembling lips were smashed into a firm line. Something about the manner in which her sister was trying so hard not to smile quadrupled her own amusement, and Ana María leaned forward and pressed her face to her thighs as amusement shook her frame.
She could feel the tension leave her shoulders, her jaw . . . her mind as she chuckled along with her sisters. When was the last time she had shared in a bit of humor with Isabel and Gabby? The fact that she could not remember made her infinitely sad.
Whatever had happened before was no more. They were here now, together, and once again Ana María was reminded that no one could stop them from being friends.
Excerpted from Ana María and The Fox by Liana De la Rosa Copyright © 2023 by Liana De la Rosa. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About the Author
Credit: Berkley Jove (TR) 2022
Liana De la Rosa is a historical romance author who writes diverse characters in the Regency and Victorian periods. Liana is a graduate of the University of Arizona, and in her past life she owned a mystery shopping company and sold pecans for a large farm. When she’s not writing, Liana is listening to true crime podcasts and pretending she’s a domestic goddess while she wrangles her spirited brood of children with her patient husband in Arizona.
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