The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray is the first novel in the “Love Star Hero’s Love Story” series, and it works beautifully as a stand alone, tying up all the loose ends. In fact, everything about this novel works beautifully.
Set just after the end of the Civil War, The Loyal Heart follows the story of Philip Markham’s widow. Philip was imprisoned at a camp in the middle of the Great Lakes, along with a handful of other men with whom he made a pact to protect each other after the war ended. Unfortunately, Philip did not make it through the war, and the wife he had so highly praised to his fellow soldiers had now turned her home into a boarding house to keep herself busy and employed. When we meet Miranda Markham at the beginning of the story, she has no current boarders, her reputation is in shreds, her husband’s name is held in contempt, and she has been contemplating suicide for a long time, getting closer and closer to losing her grip on life each day.
Robert Truax was one of the men who made a promise to look after Philip’s wife if anything should happen to him, and upon request from his captain, Robert goes to check up on Miranda. When he learns of the way her husband’s name had been dragged through the mud in their town, how disrespectfully Miranda is treated, and how her friends had betrayed her, Robert makes it his personal mission to make sure everything is how it should be.
This is my favorite book of 2016 thus far. Period. And I’ve read about 95 books so far this year. The emotions in this story–the depression, the suicidal thoughts, the hopelessness–is all so raw and real; it brought back memories of times in my own life when I’d felt the same. Miranda’s character was so relatable to me because of this; I immediately connected with her and was crying within the first chapter. I hurt for her, and I healed with her. Never have I read a Civil War novel that so completely enthralled me and connected me to the characters and their stories. This story is ten out of five stars. This story is one that I will loan out to many of my friends. This story is one that I will never forget, and will likely read again. (This story is one that I would also only recommend to older teens and above due to the intense themes and emotions running through it.)
This story is one of mystery, romance, heroism, hurts, and healing. Stories just don’t get better than this.
Thank you so much to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion – which I’ve done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*