The book starts with Lori (a poor daughter of a farmer) who has recently been raped by Eric Ross. Eric Ross is now off fighting a war & Lori finds that she is pregnant from the rape. Adam Ross (very respectable plantation owner) who is Eric's older brother is told by Lori's stepmother that she is pregnant & that he should make it right. Well, Adam proposes to Lori & she eventually accepts for her child's sake but partially because this is the man she has always loved & wanted to marry. Well, the thoughts that are repeated at almost every turn of the page is Lori thinking that Adam doesn't love her & only wed her to do right by the Ross child that she is carrying when the fact is that Adam always did have an eye for Lori & it doesn't take him long to realize that he loves her. Also, Adam doesn't believe Lori loves him even when she tells him because he thinks that she actually loves Eric. He thinks that she always wanted Eric & fell in love with him & that he tricked her into giving up her virginity to him. Adam thinks that there is no way that Lori could love him because he has a crippled leg & that she is disgusted by him but that is the farthest thing from the truth.
My Amazon review - I don't know if I can properly express how much I loved this book. It isn't easily defineable, just that it hooked me from the beginning and didn't let me go until the wee hours of the morning. The characters feel real, and their emotions and actions ring very true. I have never had to deal with the horror of rape, but the fear and lasting injury that it causes was described so vividly here that I agonized along with Lori. And while lesser romance authors might have had Adam believe her from the start, that wouldn't be realistic. Of course he wouldn't want to think the worst about his brother. But he supports her and helps her overcome her fears because he falls in love with her (and her baby!) despite all the obstacles in the way. Yes, he makes *big* errors in judgement, but his loyalties are understandably torn. Interesting secondary characters help highlight the complexity in the dynamics of relationships on a late-Civil War plantation. Let's just say it's not all "black and white". An intense read that held my interest to the last page. It goes on my keeper shelf.