- Narrated by
AUDIBLE RELEASE DATE 09-09-11
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0
Washington, D.C., June 1863. It is the week before Gettysburg, and the nation's fate hangs in the balance.
A Union officer was not court-martialed after disobeying a direct order during battle. Why?
Major Russell Johns is being played by puppet-master, Gerard Chantier. Transplanted New Orleans businessman and toast of the town. Chantier hosts the city’s most lavish entertainments attended by members of Lincoln’s cabinet and Washington’s elite.
Little do they know Gerard is coordinating an attack with Confederate general JEB Stuart's cavalry to take over the city, kidnap Lincoln and bring victory to the South.
When Russell’s probing brings him in contact with Chantier's daughter, Thérèse, he has to face his most difficult moral choice: manipulating her to get to her father or honoring the one thing that has sustained him through years of battle and loss—his own integrity.
The Civil War history is woven into this fictional drama so skillfully that I had to wonder which parts were completely real and which were all fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical aspects.
Major Russell Johns has been sent out of battle, which is his passion, back to desk work. Someone exposed his letters to his father in which he ranted against the inferior weapons the Union leaders were providing to the troops. His father has been forced out of Washington and Major Johns is trying to overcome the disgrace of his near court-martial.
Johns gets caught up with his friend Paul and the wealthy Chantier family. Johns doesn’t belong in this elite and privileged social set but the young and impetuous daughter, Therese, has taken a clear liking to him. Johns begins to investigate improper weapons accounting and soon suspects there is much more than just normal government mismanagement. The more he searches the more he finds that much of the rumors and business dealings revolve around the wealthy Gerald Chantier. What he doesn’t realize at first is the extent of secrets and spies that surround him.
Chantier acts the benevolent patron of the Union while he secretly plots to bring down the capital city itself. Meanwhile, James, his life long friend and a former slave, is working to train a black militia to help defend the city. James is also struggling under the weight of guilt for a past betrayal that he can’t decide if he should confess.
While all of the political and military moves are going on, Therese has decided to assert her freedom of will. She breaks off her arranged engagement to a British operative who is another spy tied up with her father. She is seeking more information from James about her mother’s past and she goes so far as to sell jewelry so she will have money not controlled by her father. What Therese doesn’t realize though is that her rather nasty friend, Rachel, is the biggest spy monger and will use anyone to further her own ends. Rachel is a character you can quickly dislike.
There is plenty of intrigue that kept me interested in the story. I was invested in Johns’ behavior, wanting things to go well for him and wanting him to capture the bad guys and save the day. Things don’t always work out perfectly but it is a believable and realistic ending.
The narration reading is a little dry and the beginning was just a bit slow. However the more the story moved on the more engrossed I became. The narrator does a good job with many of the voices although I thought the female accents were a bit inconsistent, weak and whiny. Then again... that was part of Therese’s personality. All in all, this is an engaging story and well worth listening to especially if you love Civil War settings, like I do. I will watch for more books from this author.