Monday, February 21, 2022

Defiance and Redemption Book Review

This morning, I have a historical fiction novel in our book review spotlight!  Check out Defiance and Redemption, read my thoughts on the book, learn about author Maria J. Andrade, and read an excerpt!

A coming of age story about love, scandal, sisterhood, and the courage to define your own life…

By Maria J. Andrade



Historical Fiction/Women's Fiction/ Magical 

Realism, Clara Publishing, 250 pp.

Based on a true story, Defiance and Redemption, A Lifetime of Unbroken Bonds, brings to life the joys, dramas, and triumphs of two sisters, Eva and Victoria Alisio and their loyal friend Marta. The sisters are raised by their atheist Grandfather Marcus and religious Grandmother Maria Luisa. Eva, a proud and strong-willed young woman defies her family, society, and culture, faces scandal and disgrace, for her forbidden love affair. Victoria finds herself in the center of a multigenerational conflict as her benefactor bestows a great inheritance on her excluding the rightful heirs. Marta, loyal to the childhood bond with the Alisio sisters, brings humor and support to their twists and turns of fortune. The young women’s bond of love, and perseverance, carries them through ordinary and extraordinary losses, triumphs, and ultimately to their destiny in the United States.

An important novel about 20th Century women, Defiance and Redemption, is an absorbing epic that moves through decades and destinies. It blends personal and historical events into a collective tale of self-determination, love, and sisterhood.


 My Review


Defiance and Redemption Brings Readers a Captivating Story. Loosely based on her true family story, the author shares a historical, cultural, dramatic journey that will capture readers from the very first page and leave readers sad to see the story end. Through an emotional story of courage, romance, scandals, real-world/ real-life struggles in a difficult time and place--the bonds shared by the women in this novel come through beautifully. 


Each Character Brings a Piece to the Story. There will be characters to love and hate throughout the story. As the women grow and change and find their places in the world, they face historical and cultural obstacles that certainly place the novel in context with its time. They also tell stories of pain, love, life, and friendship that cross time and place. It is a little difficult to keep the characters in order at first--so you may need some mental notes about relationships and interactions, but it falls into place fairly quickly. 


Would I Recommend Defiance and Redemption by Maria J. Andrade? The author does a fantastic job bringing me into the lives and times of the characters in this novel. Fans of historical fiction will love the details of the setting and the historical events and feelings of the time period. Fans of coming-of-age stories and women's fiction will love the story from the very first page. I couldn't put the book down--and I was so attached to the characters and their lives that I was sad to leave them at the end.



“This book is an engrossing page turner which will pull you in and keep you cheering for your favorite actors until the very end! Defiance and Redemption is a unique book that tells a story that is both particular to a given time in Ecuador, but also universal in its themes of love, betrayal and survival.” – Nancy Mintie, Founder of Uncommon Good

“Reading Defiance and Redemption reminded me of a distant time when I read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Like these writers, Maria Andrade took me through a captivating journey of love and deep passion. Being gripped by the strong emotions that the characters possess and what they did in the end moved me profoundly.” – Maria Donovan, Retired Verizon Executive

“In Defiance and Redemption, Maria Andrade weaves together history, biography, and fiction into a romantic love and a story of three women that defy the ability of patriarchal culture to define them. We see the young women grow up to rise above the shame that tries to silence and limit them. They learn to find their voices and make sacrifices to be true to themselves as women. They leave behind all that they knew to make a better life for themselves and their daughters. This is a book to remind women of all ages where we came from, and what it took to break out and thrive nearly a century ago. Women like these paved the way for all who came after and have the rights we have today.” – Nancy Poitou, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Chapter 1


The national swimming champion, Eduardo Velasquez, lay dying

in a hospital bed in Ecuador, South America. His stomach was

filled with cancer. He had always lived for the present, so he rarely

ever thought of his death, least of all at fifty-two. In the hospital room

were six of his children. The eldest, Amalia, was standing close by

his bedside. She was the product of his relationship with the great

passion of his life, Eva, a woman he had loved and lost.

     At the foot of the bed, across the room, was Dolores, his wife

of twenty years, and her adolescent children. On the other side of

his bed, seated by the wall, were two young adult children from his

extramarital affairs. He had brought these children to his wife to raise

when they were infants.

    Many miles away, two more of his illegitimate children would

leave their jungle home and arrive in threadbare clothing the following

day to attend his funeral at La Immaculada Concepción church.

The two would enter the church, misspell their last name on the guest

roster and weep in each other’s arms. At the church, they would find

well-known sports figures, celebrities from the world of entertainment,

politicians, and the news media from various parts of South

America. Many of the citizens of Guayaquil would be there to file

through the church and pay their respects to their hero and champion.

     Few in Eduardo’s family would notice the two offspring until

later. When their identities were discovered, many would be shocked

and outraged. Many, but not his daughter Amalia. She loved her father

with the bittersweet adoration her mother had imbued in her.

She loved him with blindness, which forgave him everything, his

extramarital affairs, his illegitimate children, even the fact that he had

spent little time in her life.

     But Dolores, his wife, could not forgive him. She had suffered

too many of his infidelities. Through the years, her resentment had

turned into bitterness and eventually a weary resignation. Yet, she

often comforted herself with the rationalization that she was his wife.

The other women had been mere interludes in his life. Her position

in society was clearly defined and well regarded.

     In her culture, it was common and even expected that men would

misbehave and that the consequences might be illegitimate children.

That was nothing new. Yet sometimes, as the men aged, they settled

down. They would then spend their older years in the company of

their patient wives and beloved grandchildren. This had long been

Dolores’ hope, a hope that died when Eduardo’s cancer was discovered

three months earlier.

     Now, she felt the ultimate betrayal. He would abandon her once

again, this time, forever. Not only was this fatal reality approaching,

but he also was dying without a will, a fact that further complicated

her life. She had her attorney fashion a will making her and her

children universal heirs, but Eduardo would not sign it.

     No matter how many times she placed his weak hand on the document, 

his eyes would look at it, he’d whisper, “no,” and he would drop the pen.

Eduardo examined his life with Dolores. He had only loved once,

but it was not her whom he loved. Dolores knew when she met him,

he would not be faithful. But he vowed never to leave her. She had

chosen to live with him and raise their children, even those who were

not hers. He was grateful, and he would leave no will so she and the

children could all own the land.

     His father, Don Miguel Velasquez, had also not left a will when

he died, yet Eduardo and his half-brother Bolivar inherited La Perla

Negra, the Black Pearl, a large hacienda that stood between two rivers.

The two brothers fulfilled their father’s wish. They honored each

other and held title to the land equally, though their mothers never

accepted this. Until Bolivar died, he and his brother worked side by

side, caring for the estate on thousands of acres of rich, dark, volcanic

soil. On it was a farm with an abundant market of fruits and vegetables,

but the most commercial crop was the large, sweet bananas,

sold nationally and internationally. On either side of the property

were two rivers flowing in opposite directions, each one producing

fresh fish, and on the land were thousands of head of cattle and over

a hundred fine horses.Eduardo expected his children to follow in his footsteps to love

and work the land together. No one would be disinherited.

     Dolores observed her dying husband resentfully and determined

her ultimate revenge would be to see that only she and her children

got La Perla Negra, not his other bastards. She had accepted the humiliation

of his misdeeds with other women for two decades. She had

raised other women’s children not with kindness but expecting that

she would one day win his love and loyalty. Now he would fail her

again by not granting her sole ownership of his estate. She resented

his eldest daughter. 

     Dolores imagined Amalia had crossed a continent

only to partake in his inheritance. She looked at Amalia with disdain

and refused to address her.

     Amalia took little notice. She watched with curiosity as her father

periodically lifted his hands before him, intent on studying them

front and back. His body was dying, but his hands, tan and strong,

were still alive. He reviewed them carefully as if assuring himself for

the last time that he yet existed. He studied them as if they were a

mirror holding the memory of his sensuous past.

     Eduardo’s hands had caressed many women, shaken hands with

friends and enemies. They had played and glided through the silky

warmth or the chill in the depth of waters. Since he was a boy, he had

dived into rivers, lakes, and oceans to become a swimmer his country

would not soon forget.

     His hands had also worked hard alongside the campesinos, planting,

harvesting, branding cattle, corralling, and riding horses, building

fences, and performing the countless repetitive tasks that filled

his days and nights. He had given the land his fidelity and more. He

had given what every young laborer gives, his strength, youth, and

time, which is sold for a price but is priceless and unrecoverable. He

had given generously year by year to the point of exhaustion in the

unforgiving environment of heat, torrential rains, mud, insects, and


     He had tended his piece of earth, and like his ancestors, he had

made a covenant with the land. He had become the thing he loved.

He and the land were wed to each other, and only death would separate


     His eyes swelled with tears realizing he would never see the

Black Pearl again. He looked at his hands once more before letting

them fall to his sides feeling listless, aware he was leaving his life

and all that he loved.

     Amalia stood by her father’s side at last, after waiting years to be

with him. She wiped the tears gently from his face and kissed him on

the cheek. Brief had been their encounter, and soon she would never

see him again. She stared at him for long periods with love, sorrow,

and concentration, to remember his countenance and take with her

the essence of his spirit.

     He smiled up at her, and she observed his eyes more closely,

deep-set and caramel colored. His life ebbed away, yet his skin was

golden, his brow as beautiful as her mother had always described it.

He reached for her, and his hands showed the years of toil, but his

touch was tender.

     “Give me your hand,” he said, and their fingers interlaced. “This

will be the bridge we build between us, which nothing will ever destroy.”

He looked into her eyes, but he could barely see her.

Softly he whispered his last thoughts, “Eva,” he said lovingly,

“I knew you would return. I have waited for you.” 

He was calling her mother’s name! Dolores, who had approached his 

bedside, heard him. She turned away furiously and stormed out of the 

room with her children following.

     “I am here, beloved,” the daughter responded, trying to fulfill the

dying man’s last wish. Hearing her words, Eduardo smiled, exhaled,

and was gone.

     Amalia said the Lord’s Prayer as she placed her hand on his chest,

but there was no heartbeat. She imagined his spirit lifting upward out

of his body and away into the sky. The sun was setting. She thought

of her mother in another continent and wished that Eva was there instead

of herself. Then she realized once more that her father had been

right. Eva was present through her.


* * *


She had heard the story of her parents’ love for each other all her

life. Now more than ever, she wondered how her mother ever had the

strength to face disgrace in order to gain the love of this man. Why

did she part from him, whom she loved so much? How had a woman

with two small children find the courage to leave her country and become

a stranger in a strange land? What kind of fierce determination

possessed her to become an immigrant who would set out with no

resources, no employable skills, and embark on such a risky venture?

     It had been over two decades since Eva left with her two daughters.

Yet only now, in the country of her birth, did Amalia begin to

grasp the pieces of the world that had shaped her mother. It was a

world that now barely existed. She wanted to see it, catch it, one day

describe it to her children before it disappeared, for, like all the moments

we live, it was foam on a receding wave. 



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Maria J. Andrade was born in Ecuador, South America, and raised in New York and California. She has a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. As a licensed therapist and writer, Maria has been diving into other people’s minds and her own, through dreams, poetry, and books for over three decades. She traveled with the Four Winds Society where she studied and was initiated into Andean shamanism in 1990.

Before Maria retired as a therapist, she specialized in women’s issues and founded the Wise Women’s Circle a ritualistic and transpersonal study group that continues today. The women support each other through life’s challenges and in the growth of mind, body, and spirit.

Maria Andrade’s books for children and adults is found in a variety of genres. This is an unforgettable first novel that reflects her imagination and creative storytelling.

Defiance and Redemption is her latest release.

Visit her website at or connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

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