St. Louis, Missouri 1861. Leigh Pennington is the daughter of a divided household. Her father supports the Union cause, while her southern born mother supports the *home team*. Leigh meets Yankee Hayes Banister when he saves her from injury when a crowd runs amok, and there’s sparks a-flying between the two, but this being a romance novel and all there are complications. Leigh’s engaged to her childhood friend who has just left to fight for the Confederate army, and Hayes was bit hard by a female viper and he’s not about to fall in love again and risk another broken heart. Leigh has a gift for nursing, and she plans to devote herself to helping the wounded soldiers, and it doesn’t matter which side of the conflict they’re on. Hayes is a shipbuilder working with the Union Army developing Ironclad warships for control of the Mississippi River. Hayes is also doing a bit of spying on the side (but for which side is he spying?), which of course contributes to misunderstandings between the two.
I enjoyed this, and even at 460+ pages it was a fairly quick, easy read. Hayes was a seriously yummy hero, and Leigh’s independent nature was handled well without going OTT and her being one of those foot-stomping-until-I-get-my-own-way heroine. There are some pretty steamy sex scenes, but you won’t be finding them on every page – war does tend to get folks separated at times. I hadn’t realized how much military activity there was off to the *west*, so there were a lot of new factoids for me in this one. I thought the author did a good job of mixing in her characters with known historical events and people (although the Quantrill episode kind of stretched credulity), which are noted in the author’s notes at the end.
Now for the quibbles – and that is the over-analyzing that goes on in Hayes’ and Leigh’s heads and it comes across as telling instead of showing. Similar to what Roberta Gellis is like when she’s at her explainatory worst (not knocking Gellis, she’s put out some very good novels). If they would just talk to each other. Argh. A worthwhile read for fans of Civil War romances. 3.5/5 stars.