Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Set in post-Civil War Virginia, Ellis's suspense-filled romance evokes the aftermath of war in a state that is dying by inches, economically ruined and devoid of an entire generation of young men. The three beautiful Atwater sisters two with dead or missing husbands, one whose chances for marriage have been blighted by the war cling to each other in the ruins of their family home, Oak Creek Plantation. In an effort to stave off despair, the widowed Julia makes a rash gesture: she announces that 17-year-old Claire, the youngest, will be married in the spring. With no funds and no groom in sight, Julia, Victoria (whose husband has gone missing in the war) and Claire dedicate their resources to making a wedding dress. Tested by events ranging from the supernatural (ghostly Southern soldiers) to the providential (lace and buttons appear through the generosity of friends and strangers), the sisters rely on their faith to see them through. With the arrival of Monroe Tacy, Julia's husband's old comrade, along with several surprise visitors, some joy may be salvaged from the ashes of their lives. Ellis spins an engaging story, though her Southern dialect can be stiff and some scenes wax overly sentimental. Her narrative warmly embraces its entire range of characters and keeps the reader guessing until the end. The author, who has written a dozen romance novels under the name of Lyn Ellis, is off to a good start in combining a historical perspective with generous portraits of appealing characters. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Adult/High School-In this light, heart-warming novel, sisters Julia and Victoria, widowed by the Civil War, show their true, optimistic nature. Determined that their youngest sister, Claire, will have a beautiful, happy wedding, they design and sew a dress without a groom in sight. Their genteel poverty means that they must sell possessions to get the necessary cloth, but neighbors donate trimmings. Sergeant Tacy, an aide to Julia's husband, arrives at their Virginia plantation to tell her of William's last battle and his last expressions of love for her. The officer stays to help as the women begin to try to farm and start life anew. Julia tells the story, and readers feel both her confidence and her insecurities as problems develop. As she misses William more and more she sees specters of soldiers waiting around the farm. Later she decides he sent them to comfort her. The historical details of daily life are woven skillfully into the simple plot, and subtle nuances are drawn between classes and races. Teens will delight in the touches of humor that involve a contrary mule, and they will also realize that from depressed times can come hope and happiness.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In this involving novel set during the Reconstruction era in the South, the Atwater sisters struggle to attain normalcy after the turbulence of the war years. Julia has lost her husband, William, in the war, and Victoria's husband, James, is missing and presumed dead. Convinced that the best years of their lives are behind them, they concentrate their attention on their younger sister, 17-year-old Claire, and decide to sew her a wedding gown as a symbol of their optimism about her future. Through a series of fortuitous events, they manage to lay their hands on almost everything they need--except a groom. Then Monroe Tacy, a sergeant who served under William, makes the arduous journey from Savannah to deliver William's dying message to his wife. Julia thinks she has found Claire a husband, but events take a surprising turn. Ellis, author of a dozen romance novels under the name Lyn Ellis, is making a bid for mainstream success here, in what is more a historical novel with a strong romance at the center. An enjoyable read. --Joanne Wilkinson
Kirkus Book Review
Two Civil War widows struggle to make a wedding dress for their younger sister, in romance author Lyn Ellis's first novel under her given name. Julia's husband, Lieutenant William Lovejoy, perished at Gettysburg; Victoria's bookish, dreamy James was shot in a matter of weeks. The sisters are penniless after the war, but they are determined that Claire, the youngest, will have a wedding dress, even though there scarcely seems to be a man alive to marry. They have given up most of what was considered proper by the standards of a society wiped out by the cruel realities of war and survival, but they won't give up this notion. A kindly shopkeeper and elderly neighbors provide the materials, yards of lace and pearl buttons; Julia and Victoria begin to sew determinedly. There is no groom, yet the three young women are plagued by ghostly apparitions of Confederate soldiers marching through the woods around Oak Creek Plantation. Then Sergeant Monroe Tacy rides many miles to tell the full story of Lt. Lovejoy's heroic death and stays on to help the sisters. James returns unexpectedly, not dead but blind. Arliss Edwards, the free man of color who helped James survive, is a skilled woodworker who sees potential in Oak Creek's innumerable fine trees. He and Monroe begin the arduous tasks that the women were unable to do. To save the plantation from sale, Julia hopes to persuade Monroe to marry Claire, but he isn't interested in the flighty girl. He asks for Julia's hand instead but she refuses, assailed by memories of her beloved husband and confused by the passionate emotions stirred up by Monroe's proposal. Nonetheless, the wedding dress will indeed be worn in the end-twice. A thoughtful tale, suffused with quiet southern pride and an old-fashioned womanliness.