Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: The Loyal Heart

The Loyal Heart
By Shelley Shepard Gray
Lone Star Heroes #1
Zondervan, 2016


Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn't expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.

After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.

Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task---Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.

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My thoughts

I’m always eager to read anything Shelley Shepard Gray writes and The Loyal Heart begins a wonderful new historical series. The characters are well developed and the dual settings of Galveston, TX and Johnson’s Island, Ohio come alive. Miranda steals you heart and emotions, and Robert Truax . . . let’s just say that he’s the kind of hero that makes you go weak at the knees. Some might think the pacing is a little slow at first, but the second half picks up speed, building to a suspenseful ending.

If I had to describe this story in one word, it would be loyalty. The setting is 1865-1867, but the premise knows no time constraints: a group of men form a strong bond while in prison camp and make a pact to have each other’s backs, to protect each other in the years outside of war. That alone makes for great storytelling as we get to focus on the different men.

The Loyal Heart is Robert’s story. Formerly a second lieutenant in the CSA, he is honorable, tenacious, sharp. I loved his backstory, how he grew up on the streets, educated himself through reading, and was taught even more by those he served with. I appreciated how Shelley handled tough topics in a realistic manner, such as the lasting effects from the trauma of war – and then depression through Miranda’s character. Grief over the loss of her husband was compounded by the instability of the Reconstruction years, and I found the historical aspect of this story very appealing.

Robert and Miranda experienced my kind of romance, where – rather than fighting – they begin with friendship and steadily grow from there. I hope we see more of them, as well as Captain Monroe, Ethan and Thomas. Lots to look forward to!



Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Zondervan for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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