Wealthy New York banker Earl Britton is named guardian of Jacintha Howard upon the death of her beloved grandparents. Virtually penniless, she is left without much more than the family’s dilapidated estate, Riverview. Earl would rather she sell the run-down estate, take the money and find herself a husband but a defiant Jacintha digs her heels in and refuses. Married to a wealthy heiress he has come to loathe, Earl finds himself falling in love with Jacintha and makes her the only offer a married man can make, which she refuses. Eventually Jacintha’s desperation to save Riverview leads her to accept a marriage offer from the much older Cole Danvers, who built his fortune on saloons and sweat-shop labor.

Of course you know Cole is going to be despicable and brutal, let alone hot to make an heir, but there’s really no way for Jacintha to get herself out of this pickle so she tries to make the best of it – and at least Riverview can be returned to its former glory.  At the outbreak of Civil War, Earl joins the Union Cavalry and Cole rubs his hands with glee at the thought of the increased profits.  And since this is a romance, you do know that our hero will be wounded and our heroine will have to whisk him off someplace safe to nurse him back to health and well…you can figure it out from there can’t you?

No, I’m not spoiling you will see that one coming a mile away. All in all a fairly typical Civil War romance, with the usual plot twists, but still an enjoyable read. Since the story is set mainly in New York, there isn’t a lot of first hand battle experiences, just brief historical recounts. Tammany Hall is little more than a brief mention, but Gallagher does give some insight into the horrible conditions of the sweat-shops and treatment of the laborers. Kudos for that – this is not a wall-paper historical.  There aren’t a lot books set in this period (we’ll not discuss those awful Luxe books), either Civil War or old New York, so it’s always a treat to find one. While not the most absorbing book ever (her Castles in the Air trilogy is much better) and despite its predictability and pat ending, I’d recommend it for fans hungry for one more Civil War romance. There is some sex in this book but not what you’d expect from the cover and very, very tame by today’s standards. 3/5 stars.

FTC, I know you really really care about where I got this long-forgotten OOP book so I’ll tell you – PaperbackSwap.

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