Prepare your torches and pitchforks. I’m probably the one person in the whole world that did not fall hopelessly, head-over-heels, over-the-moon in love with Hamilton: An American Musical.
I know. What a disgusting, wretched heathen am I for not rabidly loving the groundbreaking music, ingenious storytelling, and the renewed national interest in the American Revolution! But let me set the record straight: I have listened to the soundtrack (twice), and I do attest to the awe-inspiring genius behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics and music (heck, I follow the guy on Twitter, and his charm and optimism always make my day). But hip-hop music just isn’t my thing.
However—and I say that very emphatically—if it weren’t for Hamilton, I would not have understood just who the protagonists of Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex and Eliza: A Love Story were. At first glance, they sound like two normal people falling in love, until you realize their last names are Hamilton and Schuyler. Now the intrigue has shot through the roof.
It is 1780 and, while America has adopted the Declaration of Independence, the fledgling country is still at war with England. The eloquent and studious Alexander “Alex” Hamilton is the right-hand man of General Washington, and Eliza Schuyler is the practical and headstrong middle daughter of another renowned American general. Both their reputations precede them, though: Eliza considers Alex an arrogant rake, and Alex considers Eliza intimidating and standoffish. But a series of misadventures throw the two together, and it turns out these two have a lot to teach each other.
I enjoy a good historical romance, and a time as tumultuous and complex as the American Revolution only ups that delicious romantic tension. Redcoats, disease, and paranoia make a nice backdrop for all the romantic intrigue going on here. After all, we don’t just have Eliza finding love, but also Eliza’s two sisters, Angelica and Peggy.
I love any story with sisters, especially a trio; I myself come from a trio of sisters, as some of you know. And yet again the story focuses on the middle sister, a title that Eliza and I share. We also have the familiar sister trio personalities here: Angelica has a cunning and cutting wit, Eliza is the rebellious middle forging her own path, and Peggy is the sweetheart family baby. I’ll probably never tire of literary sisters: their giggling interludes, their secret meetings, their gossip…there is truly no other bond like those between sisters. With the exception of Alex and Eliza, Eliza and her sisters have the strongest, most interesting bonds in the book.
Maybe I’m just too much of a romantic, which makes it very easy to root for any romantic couple, but my goodness. Alex and Eliza were so cute! The way Alex sometimes stumbled over himself trying to reach Eliza, or the way they bantered between each other…I soaked it up! The romantic tension, like I called it before, was delicious! That they were just two young adults with little idea how to express their feelings, and having no place to properly press their suits, was sweet to watch.
Besides, to see Alexander Hamilton, reputed to be the most eloquent man in the thirteen states, stunned into silence by a girl was adorable! It’s the same as seeing George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, or any figure famous for great intelligence, bumbling over their words. It brings out their more human qualities that we don’t always see in our history books.
It’s difficult to pick this book apart because it’s a fluffy, if very enjoyable, historical love story. Maybe it comes with some of the typical romance tropes, like a third act misunderstanding and third-wheel love interests, but I’ll be darned if the stuff between those tropes is not so cute! Like I said, to see the more human sides of history’s famous figures is always fun to read, even if in a fictionalized account.