I love historical fiction; it’s one of the best ways to learn about history. It seems, though, that some time periods are more popular than others. When I saw The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray, I thought, “I haven’t read much post-Civil War fiction, other than Gone With the Wind.” So I picked up the novel, curious to learn about life in Galveston, Texas, after the American Civil War.
Robert Truax grew up on the streets, fighting for food and shelter. The Civil War gave him a chance to better himself by fighting for his country and learning from the men he served with. During their time in a POW camp in Ohio, he and four of his comrades made a promise to look out for each other after the war ended. Two years after the war, Robert’s captain calls on him to fulfill that promise by checking in on Philip’s widow.
Miranda Markham fell in love with Philip the night she met him. After a whirlwind courtship, they got married—only to be separated a month later when the Civil War began. When Philip died in the POW camp just before the end of the war, Miranda fell intodepression. Dark rumours about Philip’s loyalties during the war, and a fight with his family over the house he left her, didn’t help. Desperate, Miranda turned her home into a boarding house, which only fueled Galveston’s distrust of her.
Now, it’s up to Robert to get to the bottom of the rumours and rescue Miranda’s reputation. It will take all of his efforts, plus those of Captain Monroe and Major Kelly, to make things right in Galveston.
I have to admit I was disappointed in The Loyal Heart. I didn’t feel like Gray captured the South—the novel could have been set anywhere in the States after the Civil War. Robert and Miranda’s romance felt too predictable, despite Robert’s doubts about the differences between their backgrounds. There were no surprises; the bad guys were bad guys and the good guys were good guys.
The Loyal Heart is the first in the Lone Star Hero’s Love Stories series. While I’m curious which soldier will be featured in the next novel (I suspect Major Kelly), I’m not sure I’m interested in picking it up. I dislike giving bad reviews, but I really feel Gray could have had a wider perspective in The Loyal Heart. More history would have added more depth to the story.
Shelley Shepard Gray is a bestselling author and two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She grew up in Texas and now lives in Ohio. She and her husband have been married for twenty years and have two kids. For more about Shelley, or to browse her other novels, drop by her website.
I received this book for review courtesy of Litfuse Publicity; all opinions expressed are my own.