Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Soldier's Love (Brides & Twins #1), by Natalie Dean

Natalie Dean, July 2017

Mary O'Hara has grown up on a plantation in what will soon be West Virginia, when the Civil War breaks out. The Turner plantation employs hired workers, not slaves--and the relative lack of slavery in the western part of the state was a big part of why West Virginia split off from Virginia, rather than fight to preserve slavery. John Turner has two sons, and like many families, the Turners divided. Will joined the Confederate Army; James joined the Union Army.

And James tells Mary's father, Liam, about the $500 bonus some rich northerners are paying men to take their places in the Union Army. Liam wants his daughter to be more than just a hired worker, and $500 is a fortune for them, so he goes.

Will and Liam both die in combat. James is captured at Cold Harbor, and sent to the infamous Adersonville POW camp. When the war ends, nothing is heard from him,and he does not return. John Turner redoes his will; all his staff assume he has left the plantation to one or both of his second cousins, the only remaining Turners.

When he dies in 1869, Mary finds out differently. John Turner has left the plantation to her, with some conditions. She has to make a serious effort to find James Turner, and bring back him or his body to Reddington, WV. If she succeeds, they are to share the profits of the plantation. If she makes a serious effort and fails, it's hers. In either case, there are provisions for John Turner's aging employees.

She sees an ad for a mail-order bride, from a Jim Turner in Mesquite, Texas. It's a long trip and a big risk.

This is a relatively light, quick, and populated by good people. Both Mary and Jim are people of good will, kindness, and strong principles. They have some real differences, too, and Jim's war experiences have changed him. But they're good people to get to know, as are the people of Mesquite.

A lovely, light, summer read.

I bought this book.