This Caleb Thorn book is written against the background of the American Civil War.
The book opens with the graphic whipping of a slave for looking at his owner, Rachel Lowell, in a lustful way. Then she changes her mind and claims that the slave touched her. Rachel takes over from the overseer and whips the man to death.
Meanwhile, fifty miles away and among Washington society Caleb Thorn is celebrating his 21st birthday by having a duel with a young lieutenant Janson who he kills.
This has repercussions that occur later in the story.
Caleb Thorn is not made in the heroic mold. He's a strutting bully who killed his father and has an weird relationship with his mother, Jolene. Although he is engaged to marry Rachel Lowell, he has eyes for his future mother-in-law.
He really couldn't care less about the looming war and has no interest in fighting.
With the battle of Bull Run about to happen Washington society descends on a hill overlooking the battlefield as though the coming fight is some sort of spectator sport where the Union forces are expected to score a home run against the Confederates.
Things do not go according to plan and the home team are forced back. Artillery fire begins to land amongst the spectators who panic and run from the field. Civilians and soldiers cram onto a small bridge that is blown apart. Amongst the csualties are Caleb Thorn's mother, sister and fiancee - though in Rachel's case she learns that it is pointless threatening a slave with a whipping when she's drowning.
All Caleb Thorn wants is revenge against the Rebs because they killed his mother.
So Lieutenant Caleb Thorn arrives in an Army camp only to find that the Commanding Officer is
Lieutenant-Colonel Janson the father of the man he killed in the duel.
Janson has no intention of taking revenge but suggests that Thorn take charge of a bunch of convicts and go on a suicide mission. Unfortunately Thorn makes the wrong decision by choosing to reject the offer. Janson goads Thorn into striking him and Thorn winds up in the stockade with the other convicts.
Inevitabably they all set out on the mission and, as this is book 1, they pull it off and survive.
On this book alone Caleb Thorn just comes across as a weak little bully boy who has been spoilt to the point that he expects to get his own way. Though I say that by the end of the book Thorn and his band do bond.
The adult content was boring as all it seemed to do was highlight that Thorn is God's gift to women. LOL.
What is good is that there is a lot of history tucked away that tells of the descent into war that culminates in the Battle Of Bull Run.
There was enough in the second half of the book to make sure that I continue to Book 2: The Raiders.
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