In sum, I think the best way to reflect on this book is to say that it really wasn't my cuppa. Originally I got this at a bargain bin at my uni back in 2010 when someone no longer wanted it, so I'm guessing from the edition I have, they ordered it from Ravenous Romance and no longer wanted it. (Ravenous Romance no longer carries this title, so I held onto it for quite a while. I have no idea if this book has been updated or changed since that point, so I'm going from what my copy lent as I read it.)
My dislike wasn't so much for thematics or even the erotic elements of the story, but more or less, this narrative was full of many problems. The prose was repetitive - particularly when it came to the sensuous scenes between Gavin and Sophia, and apart from capitalizing on numerous period stereotypes and over the top conflicts for drama, there wasn't much holding this narrative together.
Sophia is a young woman who has no family (parents died some time before), and whose life had been completely destroyed by the Yankees during the Civil War. Her home's the only thing she has left, apart from her promised marriage to Jesse as she waits for him to return South. Sophia grew up with Gavin and Jesse, two of her childhood friends. Gavin has always loved Sophia (even saved her life when they were kids), but Jesse was promised her hand in marriage from a young age. Yet Gavin, a Yankee serving during the War, accidentally shoots Jesse on the battlefield, killing him. Gavin has to return to Sophia to deliver the terrible news and Jesse's final letter and message, for Gavin to take care of her and confess that Gavin has always loved her. (This conflict to me came across far too easily.)
Yet mistaking Gavin for an enemy Yankee, Sophia shoots Gavin as he's coming to deliver her the harsh news. (She doesn't recognize him as he's staggering to greet her from a distance). She nearly kills him and has to nurse him back to health. The two hit it off sexually (with a myriad of love scenes), but Gavin doesn't deliver the news to Sophia straight away that Jesse's dead. When Sophia finds Jesse's last letter in Gavin's things, she gets angry (she actually claws at him and bites his cheek, declaring her hatred for him) - things happen with respect to a vile guy who wants nothing more than to rape Sophia and kill Gavin. Sophia's manor gets burned down and Sophia hits her head on a bed post, rendering her blind.
So Gavin has to take her up north to a special school of the blind. On their journey there, Sophia's threatened with rape again, and other such things happened to the point where I just read to the end and couldn't care anymore. Especially considering Sophia uses her blindness at one point to determine whether Gavin really loves her.
In sum, this was just too much and I think nothing really defined the characters very well. Couldn't really follow the over the top scenarios, contrived drama, nor the repetitive sensuous scenes.
My hope is that the person who has the book now enjoys it more than I did, but I can't really recommend this for those who like erotic romance or erotica with a historical fiction grounding.
Overall score: 1/5 stars