When Baltimore heiress Cassandra Owings’ father denies her permission to marry Lieutenant Benedict van Pradelles, the handsome, older Frenchman she adores, the pair run off together. Cassandra, hungry for adventure, flings herself heedlessly into her new life. She insists on accompanying Benedict to Paris during the Reign of Terror, where he hopes to rescue his aristocratic parents and save the family fortune. Left behind in his family’s decrepit mansion, Cassandra cares for Benedict’s dying mother while his father shelters her from the rabble outside their doors. While there she forms an unbreakable bond of friendship with Jean Lafitte, a French boy whose family is in similar straits.
Fifteen years later, in Spanish New Orleans, Benedict has become a stable provider for Cassandra and their growing family – the sort of man her father always wanted for her. And Jean, the notorious pirate both blamed and extolled for smuggling goods along the coast, has become the romantic adventurer that Benedict once was. Though Cassandra doesn’t know it, the same scenario from her youth is about to play out once again.
Scott based her novel on the true story of Cassandra van Pradelles, an American woman mysteriously lost at sea in 1813. A romantic epic in miniature, Cassandra, Lost gives life to a heroine whose dramatic life was tragically cut short, and whose fate was as enigmatic as that of Jean Lafitte himself. I would have liked to know which parts were true and which invented. But this omission only whetted my appetite for more information on the place, period, and characters – a sure sign of an engrossing book