The author engages readers in the Civil War era from the opening pages of this book, vividly depicting the challenges faced by its characters. The story is filled with historical context and fascinating relationships that evolve with depth and authenticity.
The book's exploration of societal norms and women's rights during the period adds an intriguing layer to the plot. The resilience and kindness exhibited by the main characters make them endearing protagonists. The narrative beautifully captures the essence of a community coming together to overcome adversity with heartwarming moments and tense action scenes. Reading this novel gives a compelling glimpse into a tumultuous time in American history while celebrating the enduring spirit of human connection and progress.
Sarah Harper and Jacob Clark have been neighbors since childhood. The Confederates forcefully took Sarah's pa the day her mama died during childbirth, leaving twelve-year-old Sarah and Josie, a freed slave woman, to care for Sarah's baby sister, Rose, and Josie's infant, Lilly. Her pa never returned after the Confederates took him away to fight in the war.
Sarah is sixteen when the war ends. A man comes to her house and tells her he is a cousin and will take over the farm because a woman cannot own property. Jacob and Sarah get married, so the cousin cannot take her home but agrees the marriage is in name only until Sarah turns eighteen or falls in love with Jacob.
Birdie is an Indian girl living alone while her pa has gone to war. Two men take Birdie's horses and chase her with wolfdogs. Jacob and Sarah help her and capture the men. Later, she finds other outlaws in her cabin. They attack her, and she falls, hitting her head and causing a concussion. Jacob and Sarah take the outlaws to the US Marshal in Fort Smith, and Birdie to the hospital.
Jacob and his younger brother take a job cutting wood for the stable owner in Fort Smith. A tree they are cutting falls with a limb, ripping a gash in Jacob's arm. Sarah sews up his arm and helps cut wood until Jacob heals.
The couple helps a doctor who became an alcoholic during the war, and they take two homeless boys into their home. One of the boys kills a man who assaults Sarah and tries to kill her. They receive a reward for capturing criminals and use it to help build a school and church.