A transplanted Scottish soldier and an independent nurse find romance in the American West as they resist the Confederate States Army.
The second installment of Seven Brides for Seven Scotsmen, a historical romance series featuring seven Scottish brothers, puts readers in the middle of the Civil War. Howell (The Scotsman Who Saved Me, 2017, etc.) is well-known for her Scottish historical romances, but except for some slight accents and the occasional “dinnae” and “ken,” this is a straightforward Western romance. Abigail Jenson is using a rifle to guard her small Missouri farm from Rebel soldiers when Union officer Matthew MacEnroy arrives with his men to assist. After the Rebs burn the house down, Abigail leaves with Matthew and his men, journeying together to help the Union’s cause. Along the way they adopt a couple of orphaned children and some other stragglers to create a family. Abigail is a talented midwife and nurse, while Matthew has been promoted to lieutenant in the Union Army. Abigail and Matthew are both heroes in their own ways. Matthew is brave, shrewd, and smart. Abigail “could shoot better than many a man and yet she painted flowers on a wagon. She dealt with stomach-churning injuries of soldiers, yet made certain little Noah would soon get a puppy….” Their mutual attraction becomes love with little conflict. Matthew’s internal dialogue is almost clinical: “Since he had nothing better to do than think about things, he decided he needed to give the matter of him and Abigail some serious hard thought.” External conflicts are provided by the war and the large cast of characters they meet and gather up on their way, eventually, to the MacEnroy family compound.
Strong period detail and an exciting Civil War setting do not quite compensate for a dull romance.