Canaveral Light is an explosive novel about the struggle of early Florida pioneers to live in harmony with the land and its native people.
Canaveral Light is the story of Lt. Mills Burnham, stationed at Florida's Fort Heileman during the second Seminole war in Florida, a paradise that is itself as violent as its people. In spite of his fear of the land and its people, Burnham vows to bring his young family to this wild country as soon as the war ends.
Canaveral Light is the story of Douglas Dummett, aristocratic developer of the first orange groves south of the frost line, groves that become the foundation of a new citrus industry in Florida. But Dummett is a man in love with a dream, one that cannot survive the intense scrutiny of society.
Canaveral Light is the story of Leandra Fernandez, a green-eyed beauty who has loved Dummett her whole life while knowing she has no chance for happiness. Leandra is Dummett's slave.
Canaveral Light is the story of the Seminole nation, striving to defend its homeland and extend a way of life against conquest. Unconquered by the great army, the Seminole people are torn from their homeland, retreating to the swamps, living in the shadow of a people they cannot begin to understand.
When Dummett takes Leandra as his common-law wife, their happiness is destroyed by the reaction of society in ways that threaten their lives. Society and its mores burn a brand on their children's lives as deeply as that which curses the parents. Dummett's resistance leads to tragedy that threatens to tear his family apart. He struggles with the contradiction of his love for his family and his life-long bias against their race.
Burnham becomes the lighthouse keeper at Cape Canaveral and slowly advances his position in life. His growth stems from his acceptance of the country the way it is and his acceptance of the Seminole people as being worthy of honor. His friendship with young Tommy Jumper is as natural as his friendship with Jackson, a former slave who is now free. Burnham's life is marred by tragedy that strikes his family, for Florida must exact its toll on all of its people.
Florida history serves as a backdrop to the conflict of the story. The Seminole war and the resulting dominion of the white man over the Indian parallels his dominion over the Negro. As the conflict moves onto the larger canvas of the war between the states, the struggle of the two friends mirrors the efforts of the Seminole and the Negro to coexist in paradise.
The story moves relentlessly toward its inevitable conclusion.