The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray (review)

theloyalheart_grey_zondervanFrom the Cover:

Robert 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.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Perhaps today was not the day to die after all. (p.12)

I was in the mood for something light and cheerful, having just watched a documentary on NetFlix about Glen Campbell.  I had several great old songs stuck in my head, among them “Galveston,” so I thought I would just dive into The Loyal Heart for a bit of historical romance.  While it was a bit short on the light and cheerful, it scored high on historical and romance.

Miranda Markham is a war widow, burdened by the tarnished reputation of her husband and treated as a pariah in (of all places – remember that song I had stuck in my head?) Galveston, Texas.  Robert Truax is a man of honor who came from very humble beginnings.  He goes to Galveston to honor a promise, but he is probably already a bit in love with Miranda from hearing Phillip Markham’s endless talk of her.

The romance is lovely and heart-felt, and I loved every minute of this story, surprisingly even the POW camp flash-back scenes.  Mystery, peril, a widow in need and men of honor, along with an interesting secondary cast of characters.  What stood out most for me, though, was how well Miranda’s depression was portrayed, along with the way the story highlighted the continued importance of reputation in the post-Civil War Reconstruction years.

I am so looking forward to An Uncommon Protector, the second Lone Star Hero’s Love Story, in early 2017 and I highly recommend The Loyal Heart for those who enjoy a story of regained hope, faith, and love.

The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray | Zondervan, July 2016 | paperback, 320 pages

This review refers to a free review copy received from Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild.  All opinions expressed are my own.



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