Book Review: The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray

Posted August 2, 2016 by meezcarrie in Christian, historical, romance, Shelley Shepard Gray / 9 Comments

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about the book

the loyal heartRobert 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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SERIES: Lone Star Hero #1
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Zondervan
RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2016
PAGES: 320

There are certain authors who are “auto-read” authors for me, meaning that whenever they release a new book I automatically add it to my “must read soon” list. It almost doesn’t even matter what the book is about. Shelley Shepard Gray is one of these authors.  I have loved her Amish fiction ever since I stumbled onto her Secrets of Crittenden County series, and I adored her Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series. But I hadn’t read her Texas romances until this new book – The Loyal Heart.

Clearly, I have been missing out.

Because not only is this new series a Texas romance but it’s a post-Civil-War-Texas romance. And as much as I love reading Civil War era fiction, I love reading about the Reconstruction years even more.  In history classes, at least when I studied it, the Reconstruction years for the South were mainly relegated to a paragraph or two after the chapter on the Civil War. Then again, I did grow up in the North so that’s probably why.

galveston the strandAnyway… the emotions and the uncertainty and the “feeling adrift” that many experienced are so intriguing to me. Everything as the South knew it changed and where there had once been hope and confidence there was suddenly very little of either. It is this very psychology that Gray portrays through her characters in The Loyal Heart.

Miranda Markham is still reeling from the death of her husband in a Yankee prison camp during the War Between the States. Now the town of Galveston has turned against her in the most heartbreaking way – attacking her husband’s honor and her own dignity, even threatening her home and way of life. Her spirit is beaten down and her will to live is floundering.  One by one, we meet her husband’s closest army comrades – men who are also floundering now that their military careers have been unceremoniously taken away.  But they are each united with a common goal – to restore Miranda’s hope, defend their friend’s memory, and protect the wife he loved so dearly.

And whew. Let me tell you, when those men get an angry fire in their eyes at the town’s despicable behavior, you will need one of those fans I’m always encouraging you to keep handy.  Then when the fire turns into action? Yeah, just plan on slithering into a melty puddle of swoon until the end of the book.

Bottom Line: Shelley Shepard Gray starts her newest series off with a mix of strong and memorable characters sure to delight and intrigue readers. In fact, the character I found most compelling – Ethan Kelley – is only in the present story briefly but he made such a vivid impression that I’m hoping he gets his own book later on in the series! The thread of suspense adds extra dimension and emotion to the plot of The Loyal Heart and keeps the story moving at a steady pace.  The romance is quite simply delightful – blossoming from a friendship at a natural progression that made me smile and swoon interchangeably. I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series, which features a character we didn’t see much of at all in this one, and wishing February would hurry up and get here so I can read it 🙂

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it!

KissingBook Level: 3 / Will forget to breathe on occasion (the men, not the kisses, may eke this up to a level 4)

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about the author

shelley gray

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.

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Other Books by Shelley Shepard Gray

What about you? Which do you find more intriguing to study and read about – the Civil War itself or the Reconstruction afterward?

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9 responses to “Book Review: The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray

  1. This sounds great. As a Texan,I’m well aware of the devastation left behind in the South after the war. I even wrote a novel set right after the war ended. I probably need to give it another look and see if it can be salvaged. 😉

    I haven’t read any of SSG’s books (because I’m just not that into Amish), but I love historicals, and this one sounds really interesting. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. We’ll see. Once I get my contracts fulfilled, maybe I’ll pull it out and see if it can be salvaged. I haven’t looked at it in years. I’m sure it needs serious overhauling. 😀

    I already have SSG’s book on order from Amazon. It looks terrific. And her Heart of a Hero series, too. Have you read those?

    Ack! You’re killing my budget and my foundation. I’m sure it’s not going to withstand the weight of any more books! O.o

  3. Rebecca Maney

    I loved Shelley’s previous Texas series, so I am looking forward to reading this one and you just convinced me to bump it up on my priority list. I too, love pre and post Civil War stories, they are almost limitless in variety depending on which region of the country the story originates. Great post!

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