Cooper’s debut historical novel is based on real-life events during the American Revolution.
In late October 1777, 19-year-old Mary Thomsen mourns the death of her brother, killed in battle with the British. As she gathers leaves in preparation for the winter, she encounters a seriously wounded British soldier. Her compassion overrules her hatred for the enemy, and she conceals him in her secret hideaway, determined to help him regain his health. However, her nursing skills are not equal to the severity of his wound, so she appeals to her midwife mother for help. After a moral struggle of her own, the Widow Thomsen agrees to help Daniel, the young soldier. During his long convalescence in the Thomsen home, Daniel and Mary fall in love, much to the consternation of Mary’s mother. Seeing his genuine love, particularly as he nurses Mary and her sister back to health after a bout of influenza, eventually wins Widow Thomsen over to Daniel’s side. Proving not to be a typical romance, the novel doesn’t end with the “happily ever after” of their marriage. Mary and Daniel struggle to keep his origin a secret while confronting jealousy and gossip over her pregnancy. Daniel’s acceptance by the community comes through unusual and heartbreaking circumstances. Despite some occasional melodrama and sentimentality, the story sweeps the reader along not just with Mary and Daniel’s romance, but with the delightful slice of colonial America the author has created. However, very realistic passages detailing childbirth and illness before modern medicine keep readers from pining too much for the simpler life of the period. With subplots as appealing as the main story, the book is well researched, well written and well worth the purchase price.
Ready for the sequel.