on March 1st 2016
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The epic New York Times bestselling Civil War era romance by Laurie McBain
IN A WORLD BENT ON KEEPING THEM APART, CAN TWO LOST SOULS FIND LOVE?
Virginia, 1860. For Leigh Alexandra Travers, life at her family's Virginia plantation is a paradise of summer picnics and sweet tea. The daughter of a wealthy Southern horse breeder, Leigh has no interest in the outside world. Until she meets Neil Braedon...
Young and beautiful, Leigh catches the sharp eye of Neil Braedon, raised to manhood by Comanches, not by the Braedons of Royal Bay Manor. Their stolen kiss inflames a life-altering passion.
As war storms across the divided land, Leigh's family fights to preserve their fading Southern heritage, even as Neil joins the Union army. Against all odds, in tumultuous times, can Leigh and Neil forge a new future in the untamed West?
Praise for Laurie McBain:
"Wonderfully romantic."-Romantic Times
"Lush and evocative."-Publishers Weekly
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
When the Splendor Falls by Laurie McBain was first published in 1985, and is now being re-released. It’s an epic novel, which although I didn’t get to read first time around, I have had the pleasure of reading now.
The story is set out in 3 parts, a necessity I think because of the length of the book. The book covers many years. The first part is where we learn about the characters of the story, especially Leigh Travers, and Neil Braedon. They are the main couple in the story. Leigh isn’t your usual Southern belle, although she is from a rich family and has been brought up with fine manners, she would much rather be out riding her horse than taking tea and putting on airs and graces. Neil Braedon isn’t your typical Southern Gentleman either, as a young child he and his sister were abducted by Indians. They were brought up by them, and Neil earned himself the name ‘Dagger’. After many years of searching, Neil’s father found him and brought him back into the family fold. Although a gentleman now, he’s proud of what he has learned from the Indians and still keeps his hair in a braid, and dresses in buckskin breeches whenever he can get away with it. Leigh meets Neil in this part of the book and although there is quite the case of mistaken identity, they both are instantly attracted to each other. I think by far that this is the slowest part of the book, not a bad thing, but it’s where we read all about Southern life, life on a plantation, where we meet the characters, and where we learn that the civil war between North and South is imminent.
In the second part of the book Civil war has begun, and we read about how it affects both Leigh and Neil and their families. There are many emotional scenes in this section, especially learning about the losses that have to be endured. Neil fights for the North, agreeing with the abolishment of slavery, and while he and his men are trying to outrun an ambush from the Confederate army he leads them towards the Travers plantation where he knows the perfect place to hide. Some of his men are injured and he decides to move onto the Travers plantation, which is now nearly in total ruin, to hide out in the stables while his men recuperate. To his surprise he discovers that Leigh and some of her family are still in the big house, although keeping their presence unknown as possible. Leigh ends up stumbling across Neil and his men, and despite them being on the other side, she knows she has to help them with their injuries, and to keep their presence unknown, especially when Confederate troops come through the plantation looking for Neil and his men. Meeting up again has Neil and Leigh in each others arms, and with him convincing her to move with what is left of her family to his father’s home in Mexico where they will be safe. To ensure the safety for their travel and to be welcomed in his father’s home, he has to marry Leigh. Neither are happy with the situation, not because they don’t want to be together, but because they do, but they want the other one to want to be married to them. Which at this point they are too blind to see.
So begins the third part of the book. This is where we see Leigh and her family settle into life in Mexico. Neil stays in Virginia to fight, and although Leigh is secure enough in her new environment, she misses Neil terribly. She is kept busy though with looking after her nephews and nieces. By the time the war is over and Neil returns to Mexico, that is where the real romance of the story develops. He, nor Leigh believes that the other loves them, lusts after them yes, but not loves them. Leigh believes that Neil is in love with his mistress, and is certain that when he learns that she is a widow, that he will want a divorce so that he can ask her to marry him, and forget all about Leigh. There is skullduggery afoot too when somebody arrives looking for work, somebody who lies about who he is, and seems intent on revenge for something Neil has wrongly been accused of doing. Will Neil’s life be in danger, will he and Leigh ever come to realise that they are perfect for each other, and can both the Travers and Braedan families ever come to terms with life and it’s changes caused by the civil war, not least the loss of loved ones?
This book was really wonderful to read with so much description from the author in all the scenes, from the smell of the sheets on the beds, to the glorious meals that they ate. You finish the book feeling as if you too have lived on a plantation, have lived through the civil war, and are close friends with Leigh and Neil. Some may think there is too much description, but I think it is absolutely necessary to really give you a good understanding of life in that place and time. There were many characters in the story that I loved and although they were secondary to Neil and Leigh, their stories were great to read. This is a very emotive book, one which I loved and recommend wholeheartedly. Not only do you get a wonderful romance to read, but you learn so much too.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.