Lady of Secrets (Ladies of the Civil War Book 1)
Her secret mission. A country divided. His impossible love.
Henrietta Wright is a Free Colored woman who teaches reading and writing to anyone who enters her classroom. At least she was, until a drunken night with friends catapults her down a path of intrigue, coded messages, and intelligence operations. All in service of the Union Army. She can’t tell anyone what she’s doing, including the handsome Irishman she knows she shouldn’t want, but can’t seem to resist.
Since stepping onto American soil, Elijah Byrne’s only goal has been to survive another day. That is until Henrietta burst into his life and made him want more. She was never meant to be his - her fiancé can attest to that - but she makes him long for things men like him aren’t lucky enough to have. When she asks for his help, he can’t resist tumbling with her into a clandestine expedition that could cost them everything—including their lives.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.00 out of 10
Plot: A nineteenth-century romance teetering on the brink of clandestine intrigue, this captivating novel has the potential to ensnare the mainstream reader. A free Black woman working for the Union Army during the American Civil War meets an Irish immigrant while teaching adults to read and write, illustrating a balanced combination of an emotional and sensual courtship, along with embedded Confederate treachery typical of the period.
Prose/Style: Lighthearted scenes alternate with gruesome moments, a free-flowing narrative that conveys somber observations in an organic and genuine manner, as opposed to overloading the text with an abundance of historical facts. The focus remains on the story, not on the backdrop.
Originality: Plots that feature spies in wartime settings are commonplace in all fiction genres, especially romance, yet this well-crafted novel is a must-read addition. Despite the book’s engaging approach to this familiar scenario, these covert operations have been seen before, played out in countless ways.
Character Development: The essence of these outstanding protagonists lingers, fine-tuned and realistic depictions that live on past the final page. Authentic development of a character from the 1800s, often difficult to achieve in a contemporary mind frame, sets this historical love story apart from mediocre competition in a popular genre riddled with triteness.
Date Submitted: April 02, 2020
An Irish immigrant and a freed slave find love in this surprisingly light first romance in the Ladies of the Civil War series from Carr (The Color of Hope), set in 1863 New York City. Matthew Green has been courting freewoman Henrietta Wright for two years, but despite familial pressure Henrietta is dragging her feet on whether she’ll accept his proposal. She’s not in love with Matthew and instead has her eye on one of her literacy students, Irishman Elijah Byrne. Pushing those feelings aside proves difficult, but Henrietta and Elijah’s racial differences and Henrietta’s familial obligations hinder any chance at a real relationship. The story takes a turn when, during a drunken night with her friends, Henrietta makes a vow to join the Union Army. Her initial attempt to enlist is meek at best, but when she receives word that her cousin, Thomas, has been captured by the Confederates, she devises a plan to rescue him. Elijah accompanies her on the mission and the two become quite the pair as they’re swept up into a whirlwind of intrigue and romance. Though the stakes never climb all that high, readers will appreciate the plotting and historical detail, and will have no trouble rallying for Henrietta and Elijah. This is a notable start to the series. (Self-published)