The first book I read by Shelley Shepard Gray I absolutely loved. It was riveting, compelling, and so very hard to put down. It follows (at least with my logic) that I'd pick up another book by her and try reading something else from her pen.
The Loyal Heart takes place after the end of the Civil War on Galveston Island in Texas. Miranda Markham's husband died of gangrene near the end of the war in a Union prison for Confederate soldiers. Someone has accused her husband of being a traitor to the south and is blackmailing her to force her out of her mansion. Unbeknownst to her, her husband extracted promises from some of his inmate cohorts that they would see to it that his wife would always be all right. Robert Truax is the first who came to stay in her mansion turned boarding house and found out what the trouble was. He makes it his mission to get to the bottom of the threats and solve the mystery behind the threatening letters and the cold shoulder Miranda receives every time she goes to town. Eventually all of the men her husband solicited the promises from show up at the mansion and solve the mystery.
This book moved along quite slowly for me and was not quite as compelling as the other book I read by Shelley. I will not give up on Shelley as a potential author because there was quite a bit to recommend this book. The setting was absolutely wonderful, some of the minor characters were quite lovable and others were quite the opposite and it was fun not to like them. While it wasn't my favorite, it still gets four solid stars.
My thanks to Zondervan who provided the galley I read in exchange for my honest opinion.