Queen of Hearts by Phyllis Campbell

Story: 7
Presentation: 9
Total: 16
Publisher: Book Strand

Blurb: Dr. Cecilia Ashby is forced to disguise herself as a man in order to practice medicine in a small Southern town after the Civil War. When she stumbles across an injured gambler in an alley one night, will her ruse get the better of them both, especially when she finds herself attracted to him?

Gambler James Lawrence has played his last hand and finally has enough cash to buy back his family's plantation that the carpetbaggers took from him until he's blindsided, robbed, and left for dead. James finds his stolen earnings in the hands of Cecilia's brother, the young thief who now resides on his plantation.

James and Cecilia both want the plantation, but do they want a long lasting love even more? Battling deceit, betrayal, and disguises, the two must confront their biggest challenge yet.

Review: This story had many twists and turns, the least of which was the heroine dressing as a man. The plot was very romantic with the hero overcoming all odds to win his lady.
He of course is a handsome, well endowed male who rescues her from the perils she faces. I liked him. he had an interesting personality which was described in enough detail to to be attention catching.
I liked her character and personality, but I did not particularly like the physical description given of the heroine. A small, delicate woman, no matter how determined, is not capable of performing the same back-breaking work cutting sugar cane as large men, former slaves, who are accustomed to the work. Especially not in the sweltering heat as described in this story.

I liked the setting in southern Louisiana in a post Civil War time frame. It was very realistic in the details describing the hot, humid weather in hurricane season. I wish the land and the vegetation (particularly old oaks dripping with moss) had been better described. I think those descriptions could have added to the overall atmosphere of this story.

The relationship between the hero and his lady was well developed and very romantic. The secondary characters in the story added a lot of color. The brother, the saloon harlot, and the next-door neighbor all transform into very different people. Some other characters that seemed to be not-so-nice sneaks and bad guys actually were good guys or at least not as bad as I thought when they first appeared in the story.

I liked the ending which happened sooner than I expected.The story could have been extended another twenty or more pages to let the reader know what happened to various supporting characters.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty good story.

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