In Hardy’s debut historical novel set in the Civil War era, a woman in a border state is torn between her moral beliefs and the brother-in-law she secretly loves.
Gabrielle Pryor would never have chosen to love Cayne Grantson, the scion of a wealthy family in her small, southern Illinois town. After all, he’s betrothed to another woman, and she’s a woman who doesn’t even know the name of her own father. Besides, Cayne and his family are so wedded to the Confederacy that he’s likely using his vast funds to help bankroll the Southern way. But Gabrielle is in love with him despite herself, and she’s so determined to have a name and family that she convinces Cayne’s brother, David, to marry her and leave his own true love behind. But is her newfound respectability enough for her? And what about her sympathy for the Northern cause? This novel has all the hallmarks of a rip-roaring Civil War tale: romance, adventure and betrayal. However, although Gabrielle has had a rough life, she’s also rather unlikable; readers may wonder what really drives her besides money and why men fall in love with her. Although Gabrielle says she’s against slavery and that she believes the Southern cause is wrong, her actions throughout the novel belie any deep conviction. The book creates an engaging, three-dimensional Civil War-era world, but it doesn’t adequately develop the characters that live in it. Overall, while the novel is a fun, diverting read, it misses its potential to tell a stronger, deeper story.
An entertaining but uneven historical tale.