Monday, July 23, 2012

New Review: Heather Graham’s DARK STRANGER and RIDES A HERO- Absorbing Stories of Love on the Kansas-Missouri Border During the Civil War

DARK STRANGER is the first in Graham’s Civil War trilogy about the three Slater brothers from Virginia: DARK STRANGER (Cole), RIDES A HERO (Malachi) and APACHE SUMMER (Jamie).

Set in 1862-1865 on the Kansas/Missouri border, DARK STRANGER tells of Kristin McCahy, who is struggling to preserve her family’s ranch as the Civil War rages on. Caught on the border of the North and the South, she and her younger sister have little left as each side takes from their stock. One summer day, one of Quantrill’s raiders tries to rape Kristin in the dust, but she is saved by a stranger who appears out of nowhere with guns blazing. Cole Slater planned to move on after he rescued Kristin until the young virgin made him an offer he couldn’t refuse—she’d give him her virtue if he’d stay to protect them. Cole was a man of honor but he had a painful past and he rode for the South because jayhawkers, later affiliated with the Union, killed his pregnant wife. Hardened by all he experienced, he took Kristin up on her offer.

Graham has written a lot of romances that involve the Civil War; she knows it well, giving you a feeling for families torn apart when one member fought for the North and another one for the South. Often the women were caught in the middle. Such is the case here. But even in the midst of war, love can grow. Though Cole had no intention of caring for Kristin, time changed that. As always, Graham serves up an absorbing tale, one that will capture and hold your interest. I recommend it and all in the trilogy—read them in order as they are related.

In the second, RIDES A HERO, it’s 1865 and the war is over, but jayhawkers and bushwhackers still tear apart the Missouri-Kansas border. And one gang of bushwhackers is out for revenge on Cole Slater. Meanwhile, his brother, Malachi Slater and Shannon McCahy, who we met in book one, are still having their own private war, that is until the day they discover all that scraping hides an attraction neither can deny—sexy Southern gentleman meets beautiful feisty Yankee sympathizer, oh yes!

Just like book one, this novel held my interest and gave me a feeling for the tensions of the North and South, in this case even after the war was officially over. Though Lincoln wanted a healing peace for the nation, it was not to be. Graham writes well and tells a good story. It’s a great follow on to book one and I recommend it!

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