Avon, Jan 2004, 5.99, 416 pp.
In 1861 Virginia, Annabelle Hallston is unhappy that even in death her father has sold her out to pay his debts and those incurred by her two brothers. She accepts the deal between Peyton Kincaid and her deceased father only because she is worried about her younger sibling Bo. Still she adds a few stipulations as does Peyton's angry son Royce the other target. The two will wed, keep their marriage secret, and Royce demands Annabelle inherits all as he plans to vanish out west without any offspring.
At the end of the Civil War, Royce returns home to fulfill one of his codas that he will give his wife one year to decide to divorce him. As he becomes better acquainted with the intrepid Annabelle, Royce realizes he prays she will not send him packing. Annabelle also loves her husband, but knows his freedom is what he desires so plans to let home go even though that is the last thing she wants in life.
Fans of American Civil War romances will appreciate this pleasant tale. The story line is well written though the animosity of the hero towards his father and the lead female's brother towards her husband is not clear for most of the tale although her sibling may resent his inability to offer any options. The characters make the tale as they bring to life the years just before, during, and just after the War Between the States.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner