The Wars of the Roses relocate to America as a struggle between the Toliver and Warwick families, descended respectively from the houses of Lancaster and York.
Emigrating to South Carolina in 1670, these proud clans provided a youngest son each to the 1836 Revolution in Texas, where generations of their offspring have been scrapping ever since. It had to happen that one of the Tolivers would start a-smooching with one of the Warwicks, and so Mary Toliver and Percy Warwick find themselves here in bodice-ripping contortions and secret pacts. Do such stories ever end happily? Meacham begins her saga in recent times, when elderly Mary decides to act on long-hidden feelings by tweaking the noses of her assembled heirs, who patiently await their cut of fortune and a big, beautiful estate in the piney woods, part of a genteel town that Mary has pretty well single-handedly put in the pages of Southern Living and Texas Monthly, which “extolled its Greek Revivalist charm, regional cuisine, and clean restrooms.” There are worse places on earth, and worse people than the feuding Texans, though as dark secrets go, Mary and Percy’s is less dark than most gothic-romance readers are used to. Still, there are plenty of broken hearts (and at least one broken organ). As San Antonio novelist Meacham (Crowning Design, 1984, etc.) writes of one such instance, “He would never lack for her affection, commitment, and respect, but she felt the part of her that had loved and been loved by the only man she could ever care for curl up in some remote, hidden corner of her being like an animal whose time has come to die.” Cue the violins and tears, as Meacham’s saga winds slowly to a foreseeable but satisfying conclusion.
A suitably long and intermittently engaging descendant of such Southern-fried epics as Gone with the Wind and Giant—just the thing for genre fans with time to spare.