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REVIEW: Her Captain’s Heart by Lyn Cote

Dear Ms. Cote,

1208-9780373828012-bigwIf one says that the American Civil War has dropped off the face of the earth as far as romance books are concerned, that goes double for the Reconstruction period that followed the end of the war. I guess picking up the pieces and sweeping away the rubble isn’t as much fun. But I have to say that the books I’ve read of this era have been among the best American Historicals and I’m happy to add this title to the list.

While Lee might have formally surrendered to Grant, there are those who aren’t willing to put down their rifles, or put away their hate, just yet. Verity Hardy knows she won’t be welcomed with open arms to Fiddlers Grove, Virginia but she never expected that anyone might use violence to stop her from opening a school for freed slaves and their children.

Matthew Ritter has no such illusions. The townspeople drove him and his family out years ago when his father defended a free black man from being taken by slavers and he knows their feelings probably haven’t changed now that the South has lost the war. Will his prediction of violence come true or could this town possibly have improved since he last saw it?

I think you did a great job depicting what the town and townspeople looked like. The gauntness, the hollowed cheeks, the ragged clothes, the peeling paint on the buildings. How Verity felt that she, a woman who lived plainly all her life, needed to be cautious least she appear to be flaunting her Yankee “wealth” to these people who had almost nothing after the war.

I enjoyed Matt’s wry sense of silent sarcasm. And how he didn’t turn into an emo, angst boy throughout the book. Showing his emotions is difficult – actually almost impossible – for him so when he finally admits to himself what he feels for Verity – and how the simple touch of her hand to his face and hair makes him feel, the impact is all the more decided. Thank you for the lack of mental lusting throughout the book.

The book has a real feel for the fear that must have been in the household of anyone attempting to do what they were doing so early after the war. Teaching blacks to read and write? Oh yeah, that’s going to go over well in Virginia a year after the end of the war. < /sarcasm >. Verity just has no idea what she’s walking into even if Matt does. The tension is almost palpable.

The religious aspect of the book is very pronounced but since the heroine is a Quaker who lives her faith daily, that’s to be expected. I was glad that even though her father-in-law believes in the use of guns – and has one with him – Verity stays true to her pacifist beliefs when the chips are down and the villain tries his worst. I did note that she slips once or twice with her thee’s and thou’s and uses the singular “you.”

Usually children are not my favorite characters because, generally, they seem to me to be portrayed as either too cute or too old for their stated ages. In this case, Beth and the others felt natural to me and not either cloying or worldly wise. However, the question Verity finally asks herself dawned on me fairly early. Did she have the right to ask her young daughter and older father-in-law to face the dangers inherent in what she, Verity, was trying to do?

I’m glad that you showed the blacks of Fiddlers Cove as three dimensional people. They weren’t just the happy free slaves but people still living among those who had kept them in bondage and who didn’t want to see them advance in the world. The initial suspicion towards Verity makes sense. She’s white and though she says she’s there to help them, they have to be sure. They’re also still hesitant to sit with whites or do other things forbidden to them for their entire lives, up to this point. Old habits and caution are going to take a while to die.

I did wonder how on earth Verity would win over the women of the town but she managed with probably the one thing these women couldn’t turn down. The way you showed the change in status of Matt’s cousin was a nice touch. Dace might still have the land but the money is gone and he’s not the automatic leader of the community any more.

Samuel certainly lucked out in finding Abby so quickly. In less than a month, he’d tracked down the slave dealer and to whom Abby was sold then gone and got her and her two children and gotten married back in Fiddler’s Grove. I can see how he wouldn’t want to settle there, though.

Orrin and Lirit (unusual name) acted exactly as I thought they would when they were first introduced as characters. And why did Dace marry that shrew? Looks alone? Joseph gives Dace some good advice should he ever decide to try a second marriage.

The war wasn’t over. Verity is right about that unfortunately. Not only did the memories of what happened still linger for the men who fought, the families who waited and lost a loved one but also for the people who witnessed the battles and tried to nurse afterwards. The deep seated feelings of hatred and prejudice would linger for a century and more.

I was sorry to see that being unreasonable wasn’t limited to the people of Fiddlers Grove but I think the way you end the book makes sense. Life wasn’t suddenly all happy rainbows and fluffy bunnies as shown by the imposition of martial law across the South. But I think you did a good job showing how love and romance can bloom even amid such hard times and bad feelings. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

10 Comments

  1. Kimber An
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 07:32:46

    Oh, I want this one! If the author or author associate wants to send it to me, click on my link to find my email. I’ll review it at Enduring Romance.

  2. WandaSue
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 09:37:25

    I own/read this, but was a little less enthusiastic. I put it down a few times, unable to engage with the characters, and eventually finished it with a “meh”. Maybe it was just me, I don’t know. But my own rating would be a C-.

  3. Jayne
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 09:47:39

    Absolutely. Some books yell your name and just don’t speak to you. I’ve had it happen many times myself.

  4. Leah
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 11:50:32

    I just love that cover!

  5. ldb
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 15:21:06

    I’m so close to reading a book from this line because they all sound really good, I just have it in my head that all romance will take a back seat to the insperational part because of another book I read in this line. But these reviews get me closer.

  6. Jayne
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 18:22:52

    Leah I just love the covers for the Steeple Hill lines. Especially the Suspense ones as they seem to convey danger yet not rely on the standard “guy with a gun” and “guy and woman running across a dark background” covers.

  7. Jayne
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 18:24:58

    ldb, I wouldn’t say the inspirational aspects overshadow the romance. More that there’s no sex and the characters often bring their religious faith into their daily decisions. So far, there’s just one book that stood out for me as being “preachy.”

  8. Lyn Cote
    Jan 25, 2009 @ 14:25:00

    Hi Jayne,
    Your review of my book is certainly in depth. And you did get everything I tried to show. When I write books, I make them authentic to the time and try to make all my characters 3 dimensional.

    And you were also right on in your comment about how different books speak to different people.

    I understand and accept that since I know it’s true in my own life. I always wonder why some reviewers get so snippy in their reviews. If they don’t like a book, but it’s well written and researched, why can’t they just say–this book just wasn’t my cup of tea?

    I guess it’s a reader’s innate reaction. We all want to enjoy the book we chosen at the bookstore or library and we get irritated when it turns out an irritant rather than a pleasure.

    Oh, well, human nature! And we’re all human!

    Glad you enjoyed my first Gabriel Sisters book. I just turned in Felicity’s story. That comes out this December and I’m just starting Mercy’s story which will come out Christmas 2010. Doesn’t that seem a long way ahead?

    Felicity opens a home for orphans of the Civil War and her sister goes West to practice medicine. These sisters are all definitely women ahead of their time.
    The kind I most enjoy writing.

    And Kimberly, if you’d like to review my next release, THE DESIRES OF HER HEART, I’ll send you an ARC.

    Go to my website http://www.LynCote.net and email me on the Meet Lyn page.

    Thanks again, Jayne!
    Lyn
    http://www.StrongWomenBraveStories.blogspot.com

  9. Jayne
    Jan 25, 2009 @ 19:03:31

    Thanks for stopping by, Lyn.

    Felicity opens a home for orphans of the Civil War and her sister goes West to practice medicine. These sisters are all definitely women ahead of their time.
    The kind I most enjoy writing.

    I would think as Quaker women, they’d be ahead of the curve as far as “women’s lib” issues are concerned. I look forward to reading more about the sisters.

  10. Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary » Blog Archive » REVIEW: Her Inheritance Forever by Lyn Cote
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 15:10:11

    […] enjoying your novel “Her Captain’s Heart,” I was psyched when your publicist sent me an advanced copy of “Her Inheritance […]

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