From a Distance

Written by Tamera Alexander
Review by Helene Williams

It is 1875 and Elizabeth Westbrook, daughter of a former colonel in the Federal army, is determined to win a coveted staff position on the Washington Daily Chronicle by photographing the beauty of the newly discovered Mesa Verde cliff dwellings. Elizabeth needs a guide to take her through the Rocky Mountains of the Colorado Territory, but the only man available is Daniel Ranslett, a former Confederate sharpshooter who can bring down an elk — or an enemy officer — from the distance of a mile.

Eleven years before the opening chapter, Daniel and Elizabeth lost loved ones on opposite sides in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, a battle in which Colonel Westbrook was the tactical commander. Subplots involving Elizabeth’s Negro assistant, Josiah, and Daniel’s widowed friend, Rachel, add substance (and, presumably, set the stage for sequels).

Alexander, a bestselling novelist, writes with an ease that belies the complexity of this love story. Daniel and Elizabeth are multifaceted characters who must overcome their own shortcomings before they can trust each other. Altogether, this is a compelling and thought-provoking novel. I give extra marks for the beautiful cover, which captures so perfectly the heroine in her favorite gown.