Skeletons come and go from a wealthy South Carolina family's closet when the British army arrives in this tale set during the Revolutionary War. While sister Georgia Ann has taken to dining nightly with haughty Lord Rawdon, Caroline Whitaker, 14, scorns the occupying officer; she has seen a friend hanged and her Patriot father thrown into prison. Word comes that brother Johnny, a member of the Loyalist militia, has been wounded, so Caroline and her ""negra"" grandmother, Miz Melindy, set out to bring him home. Caroline not only learns that Johnny has switched sides, but that her birth mother, Miz Melindy's daughter, didn't die (as she had always been told); she was shipped off to the West Indies as the price of Caroline's acceptance as a Whitaker. Deftly incorporating facts into the background but leaving most of the violence offstage, Rinaldi (Mine Eyes Have Seen, 1998, etc.) keeps the focus on her characters, developing an entertainingly contentious rapport between Caroline and Miz Melindy while strewing the cast with rough men and widowed or abandoned women. Georgia Ann eventually becomes Rawdon's doxy, then is summarily dropped from the story, and Johnny, willing to risk his life to save his slave, breaks off with the Catawba women he had been seeing for years in the name of appearances. In the end, Caroline has no trouble marrying into a white family, a seeming paradox--considering the pervasive consciousness of racial differences here--that Rinaldi doesn't explain. Anna Myers's Keeping Room (1997), a less disingenuous story set in the same place and time, offers a more direct view of the unusual brutality that characterized the war in the Carolinas.