Third historical in Nagle’s ongoing saga of Confederates in the Southwest, following Glorietta Pass (1998) and The Guns of Valverde (2000). In Glorietta, Jamie Russell leaves the family farm outside Galveston, joins the Confederate cause and participates in the battle of Glorietta Pass, sometimes called the Gettysburg of the West. Following the Confederate collapse at Valverde, the troops withdraw back into Texas, Jamie bringing with him a captured Union battery of six cannons. Now the cannons and Jamie return to Galveston Island, where he visits his family farm. His two brothers are gone but Momma and Poppa remain, caring for daughter Emma, a lean, hard-edged girl in men’s workclothes who does heavy labor. Jamie has with him Emma’s letters to her beloved Captain Stephen Martin, and Martin’s watchfob portrait of her and the last letter to her before his death. The story turns doubly on Emma being sent to visit Aunt May in Galveston, where she is to be taught ladylike manners, and on Jamie’s attempt to save Galveston from being taken over by the Federal Navy, which has blockaded the harbor. The Battle of Galveston restores the island and its harbor to Confederate control. But can Emma’s hollow-eyed sadness lift under the stress of Aunt May’s wasting fevers and the war privations in Galveston? And what will happen between Jamie and the sexy Mrs. Hawkland?
Nagle fictionalizes some naval encounters but keeps a gripping pace without striving for the grand and glorious.