Dear Ms. Potter,
This older book is certainly a different approach to the Late Hostilities. Readers tired of the standard plantation settings and who enjoy Westerns might like it as it’s set mainly in Colorado and Texas. Then it carries on a bit further into the months after the war.
Colonel Ben Morgan has been sent west on a mission he despises but one he will see to completion. The tough Union officer is to round up a group of Confederate soldiers who have been raiding Union supplies being sent to the western forts. A moment’s distraction lands him in deep trouble when his horse is spooked by two rattlesnakes. After being thrown, his leg breaks and he’s bitten twice. That’s when Ryan Mallory and her escort find him.
Ben wakes up to find himself a prisoner of the very men he is supposed to capture and hang as a warning to other Rebel raiders. But what’s even worse, the leader of the Second Texas Cavalry is his old room mate from West Point, Sean Mallory, a man once closer than a brother but now a bitter enemy from years before the war even started. Now the men have even more to fight about as Ryan and Ben begin to fall in love.
Ryan has been staying with the troops since Sean is her last relative and the Indian situation together with the war have made Texas unsafe for a lone woman. Sean knows the losses she’s already faced and is determined to keep Ben from hurting her even more. Something he’s sure Ben will do even if he doesn’t mean to as he’s got more than enough lifetime baggage of his own. But as the war drags to a close and Sean heads back to war torn Virginia after leaving Ben and Ryan at a Confederate prison fort in Texas, no one knows who will even survive to try and build new lives.
This is another nice effort from you and is a welcome change from the usual Civil War setting. It’s also a story losely based on a true life incident. You give Ben enough emotional baggage to make his actions and reactions realistic, have the conflict between Ben and Sean severe enough to make their antagonism believable and nicely flesh out the secondary characters. What made me grit my teeth a bit was the Little Miss Sunshine heroine who is always left staring after Ben with big wounded puppy eyes after he snaps at her from the depths of his tortured soul. Just once I wanted her to really haul off and wallop him hard enough to fell him like
an ox. “Yes, I know you have trust and committment Issues but stop treating me like *&$#@.”
What really brings the story up a notch is how the conflict between the two sides is realistically shown, the anguish is felt between those who had once been so close, and we get a glimpse of the aftermath without sugar coating the years of hard struggle yet to go to put the country back together again. I’d give this one a strong B grade.
This book is out of print. It was published by Harlequin in February 1989 as part of the Harlequin Historical line (No. 15 according to the Romance Wiki). For those that might want to track it down the ISBNs are: ISBN 0373286155 / 9780373286157 / 0-373-28615-5.
Potter appears to be writing romantic suspense books for Berkley with her latest book coming out on December 2, 2008, Behind the Shadows.