Love Stays True
by Martha Rogers
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Released: May 7, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Manfred Whiteman and his brother, Edward, fought for the South in the Civil War, but they've been prisoners for months. Their loved ones don't know if they're alive or dead. When the war ends, they're released from a horrible prison, given a few provisions, and begin a long journey home to Bayou Sara, Louisiana.
At home, Sallie Dyer waits for word of Manfred. Though just a young girl when Manfred left, Sallie is determined to wait for him. But she's worried she may fall in love with another suitor or be pressured to marry another if Manfred doesn't come home soon.
On their journey, Manfred and his brother encounter storms and delays as well as wonderful, caring people. Will he return home before someone else claims Sallie's hand?
Love Stays True is a Christian historical romance set in the American South from April 4, 1865 to June 7, 1865. I was expecting a deeply historical and realistic novel because the story was loosely based on actual journals from the time. While the situations were realistic enough, there were a number of improbable or inaccurate historical "daily life" details.
I also didn't feel much suspense. Manfred wasn't worried about making it home due to his deep trust in God, he was patient during any delays, and any danger was quickly over. Sallie's troubles (corsets, parties, being courted) didn't seem weighty compared to what others were dealing with. Also it's hard to have a romance when the two characters haven't seen each other in over a year and don't interact for most of the story. Their personalities and beliefs were so different that I wasn't actually hoping they'd get together.
The main characters' reactions often seemed too simplistic. Manfred didn't have emotional trauma from fighting in the war and cared only that he was free. All of the main characters basically said, "Oh, well, we lost, but at least everyone's coming home and things will get back to normal!" They quickly dismissed any bitter or mixed feelings about losing the war or the assassination of President Lincoln. They never questioned what the future "normal" would be.
While Sallie did suffer bad dreams after killing an enemy soldier in self-defense, her reaction seemed impossibly naive. She didn't even seem to realize that Manfred and the rest were killing people in the war. Her reaction never moved past "God won't forgive me because I killed. I don't want anything to do with God because he won't prevent bad things from happening to everyone, even my enemies" until the very end of the book.
And Sallie worries that she'll fall in love with a handsome, kind suitor even though she loves Manfred "with all her heart and soul." She tries to stop the suitor from visiting with her so she won't fall in love with him instead. She avoids anything that might make her question the basis and strength of her love rather than maturely considering the situation.
There were frequent mentions of God working things out and of Sallie blaming God for letting bad things happen. There were no sex scenes and no bad language. Overall, I guess I'd recommend this novel to those who like uncomplicated romances with historical backdrops.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.