Tennessee, 1866. According to the last letter Irish immigrant Catriona O'Toole received from her twin brother, Ryan, he was being dispatched to Franklin, Tennessee, where--as a conscripted Confederate soldier--he likely endured the bloody Battle of Franklin that claimed the lives of thousands. Catriona leaves behind the lush green of their Irish homeland in search of him, with nothing to her name except the sum of cash Ryan sent to their family. Now the sole provider for her seven-year-old spitfire sister, Nora, Catriona hopes to reunite the siblings--the only surviving members of their devastated family.
Wade Cunningham is a former Federal soldier who now works for the newly formed United States Secret Service and is trying to uncover counterfeiting rings in the postwar South. In order to infiltrate their sophisticated enterprise, he must pose as a former Confederate in Franklin--a town where counterfeit greenbacks run rampant. When Wade meets Catriona, he is immediately intrigued by her and the little redheaded scamp in her care--but what he doesn't anticipate is that the cash in Catriona's possession is some of the most convincing counterfeit money he's ever seen. Soon the object of Wade's affection is also the suspect in a major crime--one he's expected to prosecute.
My thoughts.... Another brilliant novel from Tamera Alexander! Her heart for Tennessee and its local history shines through once again. The story of Catriona O'Toole, her family, and Wade Cunningham are intertwined with the real-life stories of the Battle of Franklin and those who lived at Carnton plantation. I love the way that each character, whether fictional or not, fits together perfectly into the story. The attention to detail is another strength in Alexander's writing. As she described the sight of the fields of poorly buried soldiers who died in battle, it evoked in me the same feelings the characters had. I visited Carnton a few years ago and I can imagine that area along with several other scenes in the story as the author brought history to life. Even Catriona's sister, Nora, brought out feelings of frustration in me as I read about her antics as well as how Catriona responded to her. While that could be a turn-off for some, it truly is a testament to the writer's abilities to bring out those emotions in the reader. As a reader, I'm always looking for the build up of tension, especially romantic tension. I enjoy history, but I want the love story! This book has those encounters between the hero and heroine that I was hoping for without being graphic (clean romance). This book would also be categorized as Christian fiction, so there are also clear representations of the Christian faith throughout the story. I'm looking forward to Tamera Alexander's next novel!
*I received a complimentary copy of this novel from NetGalley in order to give an honest review, which I did.**