A Rebel Heart

Written by Beth White
Review by J. Lynn Else

It’s been five years since the Civil War ended, and Selah Daughtry has been supporting her younger sisters and spinster cousin since the death of her mother at the hands of marauding soldiers. While traveling to request a bank loan to help save her floundering Mississippi plantation and keep her family fed, her train derails. She and the other passengers are saved by the heroics of Levi Riggins. Former Union soldier turned Pinkerton agent, Levi is investigating a series of train robberies. When the trail of clues leads toward the Daughtry home, he finds a way to help the charming woman while also uncovering a much more sinister plot behind their train “accident.” Will he keep his true identity and motivation for being there a secret and risk damaging the budding relationship he has with Selah? And can strong-willed, independent Selah trust a “Yankee” with her home and her heart?

White knows this time period well. The setting and dialogue are extremely immersive. White is sensitive to the prejudices of the time and presents the issues with a deft hand. The Daughtry House restoration, post-Civil War sensibilities, and the cast of characters all drew me in. I loved the varied turns of phrase uttered throughout the novel. My only minor gripe deals with the subplot involving Levi: his investigation isn’t really a mystery, as the perpetrator is also a narrator. Thus, early on, readers know the who and why. Levi working through his list of suspects is unnecessary narration, and I found myself skimming these sections since I already knew the answers. However, there are other plot threads that kept my interest, and which are artfully woven together. The time period is beautifully realized, and the characters are captivating. Recommended.