After losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford.
Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart.
In another time and another place, his choice would be easy. But love seems impossible amid the simmering chaos of Reconstruction that could boil over at any moment into an all-out battle for survival. Will Beau and Portia find their way into each other’s arms, or will they be swept away by raging forces beyond their control?
Review: I have a soft spot for historical romances and a fascination with the Civil War and that period right after the war. So, when this book came across my inbox, I knew I had to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did. Set in post war Tennessee, Ms Parker has created a touching romance.
From the first scene, I was emotionally engaged . Imagine a young lady laying over the graves of her husband and child on Christmas morning, ready to give up on life. I immediately wanted to know more about Portia, how she got to this point and how she was going to move on. She decides to shake up her existence by taking a job as a tutor for a young boy, but this requires her to move away from all that she knows. Enter Beau and Jonny as well as a diverse household guaranteed to change her life.
Then we have Beau. He fought for the Union, against all his neighbors and even his in-laws who all supported the Confederacy. After the war, he came home to a failing farm, is now widowed and unable to connect to his son, Jonny. Whereas Portia grabbed me from the moment we met, Beau was a little harder to like. It’s not that he wasn’t likeable, he just had so much anger and distance to break through first.
While this isn’t an inspirational novel, there are a few moments where it crept in a little. Part of me wishes that it either went full on or not at all and not just hinted at it. I did appreciate that this was a sweet, no sex, romance. It fit very well with the story and I think if sex had been thrown into the mix, it just would have been awkward and out of place.
I think what I liked most about this book was Portia’s relationships with Jonny and the free black servants in the household, Bessie and Isaac. I enjoyed most of the scenes with Portia and Jonny together, forming a friendship despite the fact that she’s his teacher. She’s the mother figure he needs in his life. And then watching Portia with Bessie and Isaac. I don’t believe it was stated outright, but I believe that when Portia first meets these two, it was her first real interaction with people of color. In the end, she forms a very strong friendship with this couple and it was touching to watch from those first very tentative moments.
I truly did enjoy this book. It seemed to be a pretty realistic look at post Civil War south and I couldn’t be happier that I picked up this book.