In a Union prison camp in the middle of Lake Erie, Second Lieutenant Robert Truax and his fellow prisoners make a life-long pact to protect and aid one another as long as they live. Before his dear friend Phillip Markham dies in captivity, Robert promises to care for Phillip's widow as well. Years after the Civil War ends, Robert visits Phillip's beloved wife Miranda at her boarding house in Galveston, only to find a woman without any hope.
After her husband's death, Miranda finds herself a friendless outcast when rumors surface accusing Phillip of having betrayed the Confederacy. When she begins receiving threatening letters ordering her to leave her home and business, Miranda struggles to find reasons to keep living. As Robert works to heal Phillip's reputation and Miranda's security, can she truly allow herself to be happy again? As their relationship deepens, can Robert ever let go of his insecurities and believe himself worthy of Miranda's affections?
In The Loyal Heart, Shelley Shepard Gray tells a story of hope and redemption in one of the most tumultuous times in American History. The historical details of prison camps and post-war Texas are rich and interesting. While Robert is quite swoon-worthy, Miranda's character doesn't give readers much to root for. Sequences in which she struggles with depression and even suicide have potential, but are essentially solved by her finding a new man. Gray alludes to God's healing power as well, but the fact that Miranda's problems all start to disappear when a group of men swoop in doesn't sit well. Just a bit of gumption on her part would have gone a long way. That said, the bond between the soldiers was compelling, and the conclusion adequately satisfying when Robert gets the happy ending he deserves.
I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.