Saturday, July 22, 2017

Review: Jessica James’ NOBEL CAUSE – Loving the Enemy in the Civil War

Set in Virginia, beginning in 1862, this is the story of Captain Alexander Hunter, an officer in the Confederate army, who is respected by all but continually outsmarted by a Union scout, a mere boy. In reality, the boy is a young woman named Andrea Evans, who works for her cousin’s husband, Col. J.J. Jordan of the Union army.

Thinking to send Andrea away from battle, J.J. sends her to Richmond on an undercover assignment to act the lady in the heart of the Confederacy. She is to report to Col. Daniel Delaney who is sweet on her. (Their emerging “sort of” romance was a bit confusing, especially given I was pretty sure Hunter was the hero.)

The author takes pains to tell us what courageous beings both Hunter and Andrea are—larger than life characters of extraordinary intelligence, strength, courage and ability. Andrea thinks Hunter is “the incarnation of knighthood”; he thinks her smile is “the sweetest that had ever illuminated a mortal face”.

Though she is a Southerner, Andrea fights for the North because of her past experience with slavery, slipping across the South’s lines, going without food for days (apparently without ill effect) as she defies Hunter. No less gifted than his nemesis, Hunter is committed to seeing the South independent.

Our heroine Andrea begins the story dressed as a lad with short hair, but less than a year later, she’s in Richmond with long hair, dressed as a lady and waltzing around the dance floor with Hunter, who sees her as the only intelligent female around. Her appearance, specifically her hair, was a constant question throughout the story. When she acted the lad, all accepted her as a boy; when she played the lady, she had a lady’s hair. Hmm….

When Andrea ends up in prison (beaten badly, but apparently not raped), Alexander brings her back to his family home to slowly recover. In that same house is Victoria, who we are led to believe is Hunter’s mistress, but we are never sure about that.

You won’t experience a major battle of the Civil War, but you will see some of the guerilla warfare Hunter and his men engage in and you will live through the aftermath of bloody men and horses.
I liked the story, much of it very well written, but the pace is uneven. The first part and the last part were the best; the middle dragged with the constant and repetitive bickering between Andrea and Hunter at his Virginia estate.

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