A Love of War

Written by Louise Ripley
Review by Pamela Schoenewaldt

General J.E.B. (Jeb) Stuart cut a dashing figure in the Confederate army with his scarlet-lined cape, plumed hat, white gauntlets, and gleaming boots. A fearless cavalry officer and brilliant military tactician, he was admired on both sides of the Civil War. Word of his death at Gettysburg had Robert E. Lee prostrate with grief.

At fifteen, after surviving childhood abuse, handsome Private Liam Ashley finds in his appointment as Stuart’s camp aide both salvation and exquisite pain. Seized by intense, hopeless love for his general, he endures agonizing fear for Stuart’s safety, the humiliation of Stuart’s flirtations with Southern belles and teasing pique of Liam’s desperate adoration. Constantly courting his general’s anger, Liam is both terrified and excited by his punishments.

Set in the months before the Battle of Gettysburg, A Love of War lacks the drive of a character-driven plot, and the conclusion feels a bit implausible. But readers will find an ingenious, fictional take on the iconic figure of General Jeb Stuart which contributes to the growing body of gay-themed historical fiction, and a unique view of life behind the front lines of the Civil War.