Unwilling Warrior, Seasons of Redemption Series #1
by Andrea Boeshaar
Genre: Inspirational, Historical Romance
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
The War Between the States has Valerie Fontaine frightened about her future. She never suspects she'll be thrust into the middle of it. Benjamin McCabe's got a noble dream of photographing the Civil War - and he never expected to fall in love with a New Orleans socialite.
When Valerie's father is arrested on charges of treason, Ben secures a way for her to leave the city and travel to his family's home in Jericho Junction, Missouri where she'll be safe.Can Valerie adjust to life on the prairie and remain true to her promise to wait for Ben no matter what the cost?
Valerie Fontaine is a gentle nineteen year-old who has returned from school in Virginia to be with her father for their first Christmas since her mother died. Valerie was very close to her loving mother and is sad that she was not there when her mother took. Now she discovers that her father objects to her coming home. He has always been distant but now he is drinking due to his grief. Since the 1861 battles of the Civil War are increasing he can’t safely send Valerie back. Now his main wish is to marry Valerie to James Landon, a childhood friend. Valerie doesn’t mind James as an escort but she has no desire to marry him and is learning that his behavior is ungentlemanly and controlling.
Benjamin McCabe is a photojournalist traveling with his friend Clint and his new wife, Emily. Ben and Clint are photographing the war, but Ben is also busy searching for his brother Luke, whom they lost at the battle of Bull Run. Ben refuses to return home to Jericho Junction, Missouri, until he finds Luke.
Ben is staying with the Fontaines on his visit to New Orleans and is immediately drawn to Valerie’s beauty and sweet spirit. Ben and his country life-style were rejected by a Boston sweetheart so he is cautious of entering a relationship. Yet Ben is concerned about James’ treatment and attitude towards Valerie and he can’t accept that she might be forced to marry James.
Although Ben and Clint have stayed neutral in the war, they agree to take on a photograph assignment for a Confederate Colonel, hoping to find information about Luke and giving Ben a reason to remain in New Orleans longer. When the packet of photos is turned in they include one that shows Mr. Fontaine with a known Yankee sympathizer. The Colonel announces that Mr. Fontaine and the Landon’s are about to be arrested and Valerie is to be taken into custody as a suspected conspirator. Ben realizes he must do something to help so he whisks Valerie off to his cousin, Pastor Elliot, to marry them. Then Emily and the new Mrs. McCabe will be sent off to Missouri where they can wait in safety.
Valerie and Emily are surprised to find Catherine Elliot on the ship for travel. Catherine is in love with Ben and has prepared herself to be his wife in his country town. She resents Valerie and is sure that the marriage will be annulled when Ben returns.
Valerie must adjust to the different life-style with her new in-laws. Although Catherine continues to belittle her as a wealthy daughter who never had to work, that is not who Valerie is. Valerie helped with chores and loved to help her mother make homemade soaps with passages of Psalm 55 attached. Valerie is welcomed by the McCabes and is thankful for the warmth of her new “family”. Catherine continues to show anger and bitterness and feeds Valerie’s doubts of Ben’s motives for marrying her. When Ben returns will they begin a life of love together or will he ask for an annulment?
This is an easy read and a charming story. There is great contrast in the characters, especially Catherine, the preacher’s daughter, and Valerie, the wealthy ship merchant’s daughter. The setting is in the early stages of war and most scenes are only on the peripheral edges of the battles. Still there is interesting detail given regarding the times and how the war is effecting the lives of citizens. There is an underlying strength of faith and goodness in the story without ‘preachiness’.
All of the ladies in book club enjoyed the warm story and we decided to read book two for our April book and May meeting. We recommend this book to those who enjoy a warm, historical, inspirational and sweet romance.
This was our Ladies' Club selection for March reading/April meeting.
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