Seven Aprils (American Civil War Brides)
The Seven Aprils of this action-adventure romance are the Aprils in the years that surround the American Civil War. Tess is a mountain girl of extraordinary capability who finds herself about to be sold into marriage. She runs away, dressing as a man for protection. She meets a young doctor, and when the Civil War erupts, they enlist. The young doctor turned combat surgeon does not know the true gender of his assistant but falls in love with stories of a twin sister. He conflates those stories with a young whore, who is, in fact, Tess, now fulfilling her own amorous desires in yet another disguise. The darkness needed for these meetings is such that the doctor doesn’t know if she is white or black, yet it is light enough that they communicate in gestures. Some suspension of disbelief is challenging.
Romance readers may not care for this, as it lags on the regular genre beats, particularly in the beginning. When amorous declarations do come, they seem unexpected. Plot points turn on a dime, and there are several chapter openings that are unclear. Overall, if you enjoy the cross-dressing trope, it is a fine read, just patchy.