Sarah Franklin, a young teacher escaping an arranged marriage to a corrupt man, runs straight into the arms of Captain Harry Richardson as he prepares to board a train leaving Macon, Georgia, in 1875. She begs him to help her, and the captain soon finds himself in the midst of a ruse to hide her identity from her pursuers. When he impulsively kisses her in front of his amazed friends and some curious newspaper reporters, everything changes, and events soon spiral out of control.
Harry is a handsome man who carries his Bible and sidearm in a worn, leather valise. He fought on the side of the Confederacy until he was captured at Missionary Ridge; he spent time in a northern prison, but was released when he agreed to go west and fight the Indians with the U.S. Cavalry. Now that the war is over and he has earned his theology degree, Harry is looking forward to a new beginning as a circuit-riding preacher in the North Georgia mountains. But first, he must survive the train trip, protecting a woman he barely knows and putting his life in jeopardy to battle a determined band of hired gunmen.
In this inspirational historical tale, a soldier-turned-minister learns that even if you’re starting a new life, there are some things you can’t leave behind.
The concept behind this story is intriguing – I love the idea of the historical marriages-of-convenience that end up working out, so I wanted to give this book a read.
Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t support the concept. There were several things that made this story difficult to read, but here are the main ones.
First, there were so many characters and we had to get the history of all of them, whether it was relevant or not. We really only needed to know about Sarah and Harry and maybe a few other characters, but there are dozens of minor characters that get pages and pages of space, even though they’re almost unneeded. It’s tolerable for the first few chapters, but eventually it starts to drag.
Then there’s the inconsistent urgency. Apparently Sarah’s running for her life, but there’s always time for entertaining – a wedding reception, random dances, picnics, etc. And it’s not just Sarah and Harry. They have a whole entourage of people following them across the south, which makes me wonder how hard they’d really be to find.
Overall the story dragged. Long sections of dialogue and random introductions to people kept getting in the way of the plot (which, if boiled down, would only be a few chapters long). I finished it because I had to, but it never grabbed my attention. I hope the author will consider revising the story to make it as captivating as the description promises.
*I received a free copy of this book. The review is honest and my own.