Seeking to fulfill the promise she made to her dying father, eighteen-year-old Jesselynn Highwood determines to take her little brother and the family's remaining Thoroughbreds from Twin Oaks plantation in Kentucky to her uncle's farm in Missouri, where they will be safe for the remainder of the Civil War.
Jesselynn is also fleeing a cruel man in Confederate uniform who has pledged to take revenge against her for refusing his hand in marriage. No longer safe at Twin Oaks, she embarks on a perilous journey, taking on the momentous responsibility for the lives and welfare of all who go with her.
They ride at night and hide during the day, dodging both Confederate and Union troops along the way. Encountering hunger, sickness, and the devastation of war, they finally arrive in Missouri only to discover that the situation there puts them in even greater danger. Discouraged, disillusioned, and facing a severe testing of her faith, Jesselynn will stop at nothing to save her family, the horses, and whatever remains of Twin Oaks.
This is not your typical "southern belle seeking a husband" kind of story. Jesselynn is a strong character - even though she doesn't think she is. She takes care of everyone that is traveling with her and picks up extra travelers needing her help along the way. The portrait of the Civil War is very real. Many of the soldiers mentioned are injured and lose limbs and hope. Jesselynn's sisters who she sends off to Richmond have a very different life than Jesse. However, they too are living their faith and trying to help the victims of the war any way they can. This novel ends on a cliffhanger, so you might as well plan on reading the whole series because you can't just stop at the last page. It moved along well and the story seemed fairly realistic - there were spots that raised my eyebrows, but not many. I just kept thinking, "What would I have done in that situation?" and that made me want to see what would happen next. The outcome was not predictable.
I used this selection to fulfill requirements for these challenges: Four Month Challenge II (15 pts.); Darling Daughters Challeng; Women Unbound; A~Z Book Titles; New Author Challenge; Support Your Local Library Challenge; What's In A Name 3 Challenge - a place name; and, of course, Pages Read 2 - I'm up to 1749 pages and the Buck-a-Book Challenge - 4 bucks! Phew!