Sugar Sun #0.5
The Oriente is the finest hotel in Manila... but that’s not saying much.
Hotel manager Moss North already has his hands full trying to make the Oriente a respectable establishment amidst food shortages, plumbing disasters, and indiscreet guests. So when two VIPs arrive—an American congressman and his granddaughter Della—Moss knows that he needs to pull out all the stops to make their stay a success.
That won’t be easy: the Oriente is a meeting place for all manner of carpetbaggers hoping to profit off the fledgling American colony—and not all of these opportunists’ schemes are strictly on the up-and-up. Moss can manage the demanding congressman, but he will have to keep a close eye on Della—she is a little too nosy about the goings-on of the hotel and its guests. And there is also something very different about her...
Read: September 1, 2021
Historical fiction is not limited to any specific time or place, but it does not take a genius to note the spotlight shines on some nations more frequently than others. There are many reasons for this, none of which bear repeating here, but as someone who spends a great deal of time with the genre, I will say I get genuinely excited when I stumble across stories set in less popular locales.
Now it’s not impossible to find historical fiction set in the Philippines, I recommend both Apostol’s INSURRECTO and Hooper’s ANGELS OF THE PACIFIC, but novels that take place in the archipelago are few and far between. This being the case, I jumped at the prospect of Jennifer Hallock’s Sugar Sun series and immediately procured a copy of the first installment, HOTEL ORIENTE, for my library.
At only one hundred and twelve pages, the novella proved a quick but delightful read. I loved that the plot played on a real profiteering scandal that occurred at the Hotel de Oriente, but I was equally intrigued by Hallock’s heroine. Della Berget’s independent nature engaged my imagination, but I was fascinated by how Hallock used her character to illustrate the practical and social challenges faced by the deaf community at the turn of the twentieth century.
A deliciously steamy love scene makes HOTEL ORIENTE an excellent choice for fans of historical romance, but I would caution those interested in political dialogue to keep an open mind. The book features enlightening details on commercial operations in the Philippines in the early 1900s, but its modest length prevents Hallock from delving into the details of the Philippine–American War. According to the description, that material plays a prominent role in the next installment of the series, but the conflict is not the focal point of this story and should not be expected to take center stage.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: September 1, 2021