1867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.
Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.
Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle’s courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.
After the civil war, Reed Jackson returns home to his family. Confined to a wheelchair, he’s a broken, different man. After an argument with his father, he moves to Fenton in Missouri to start again. Reed must battle his own past, his upbringing, and everything he ever believed in if he wants to fit in in the United States, a place completely altered from before he went to war. He meets a young, poor farm girl named Belle Richards and is enamored by her the moment he lays eyes upon her. She constantly thrives to become a better person, and this is what draws him to her. Their relationship is a continuous struggle: they must battle against their own in-laws, Reed must think about what it means to be a good wife and how it’s different from how he always thought it would be, and why Belle does fit the description, and how they stand in their community.
The book is well written, the historical research are well-researched and the characters come to life on the pages. The book is primarily a love story, but it covers a lot more layers. It’s about Jackson, about how he has to find himself again after his accident, about an America struggling to cope after a war, about the abolisishment of slavery and how that affects the entire community. Reconstructing Jackson certainly had me think about history, and the effects of wars and changes on people. A high recommendation for all fans of historical fiction.