Feb 12 2007
Dear Mrs. Cummings,
I read your novel “My Rebel Belle” (TBH, I still cringe at that title) and quickly bought the rest of your published books. I had a feeling that “An Affair of Honor” might tie in with it and indeed it does, telling the story of the US Civil War from the Northern perspective. Since most books which use this setting take place in the South, I was curious to see if this Southern girl would enjoy this book as much as your first.
Colonel Raleigh Gilmore has no idea why he’s been summoned to meet with CSA President Jefferson Davis in early 1864. When he learns the reason, he’s stunned. Davis wants him to travel to Boston, MA and instigate something which will bring England into the War on the side of the Confederacy. The tides of the war are turning and without outside help, the chances of a Southern victory grow dimmer by the day. With only the names of two operatives already in the city and a fierce sense of honor to complete the duty to which he’s been assigned, Raleigh heads via gunrunner from Bermuda to NYC to Boston.
Lydia Appleton despairs of finding a man willing to work for her as a clerk in her family’s shipping business. With the death of her father, more of the work is falling on her shoulders and despite most of upperclass Boston being scandalized by her actions, she’s determined to keep doing it. Several of the contracts the company has are for the Army and Lydia knows how important it is to deliver the supplies needed to keep the Army fighting to restore the Union.
Raleigh is at first horrified by the thought of working for a woman but quickly realizes it’s a golden opportunity to discover a way to perpetrate an action so outrageous that the English will be forced to enter the war. What neither he nor Lydia count on is falling in love. But Raleigh can’t imagine long term happiness with a woman who acts so unwomanly and besides his honor demands that he not lead her on when there is no hope of a future for them.
When I started this book I didn’t know how you would manage to get a Southern hero into Boston, explain his presence well enough to keep him from being arrested as a spy, come up with a believable plot and still include a romance. I should have remembered how well you did the reverse in “My Rebel Belle.” As in that book, the characters act like 19th century people. Honor and duty aren’t just words but codes to live by. A gentleman does not compromise a woman even if he realizes she wants him as badly as he wants her. And once he has given his word, he must honor it.
Readers looking for a period detailed look at the US Civil War that is different from the usual Northern officer hero meets feisty Southern spitfire might want to check out your stories. I’m glad I have.