The central romance runs the course of hope, challenge, new hope, further challenge, etc. But it does it well, with some fairly detailed history of the times it presents. I suspect US readers will find it more familiar, since it’s a part of their history. For me, as a Brit, there were odd references that were obscure, and some geographical aspects that had little meaning. But these didn’t detract from the story and didn’t interrupt the flow. Pacing is good, as is the use of language.
The characters, always a vital aspect of any story for me, are well drawn. They have their faults and their positive qualities, and none is a caricature or stereotype. The different attitudes of both sides in the war are well expressed, and, as should be expected in our more enlightened times, the evils of slavery are depicted in subtle but definite ways. Certainly, the right wing, greedy, and abusive way of life of those in the Confederacy are demonstrated, but these are not thrust down the reader’s throat.
The story moves well, slowing for the romance, speeding up for the action. There is a good deal of tension between both family members and the main protagonists. Evil and good are well represented as are loyalty and betrayal. Love, of course, is given a good ride and drives much of the action in the story, as it should. The author has managed to get inside the contemporary religious hang-ups of the age, describing the mistaken guilt and hypocritical judgment that would have been common at the time.
In spite of a slightly slow start, the story develops a good pace as the action progresses and conflicts rise to the surface. This is a good read and one of the better examples of the romance genre. I enjoyed it and found I was eager to reach the denouement and the satisfactory conclusion. Recommended.