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Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    this is a wonderful Civil War drama.

    In 1861, President Lincoln asks Charles Francis Adams, the son and grandson of two presidents, to visit England on a critical espionage mission. Lincoln needs to know how England will react to the American internal conflict. Adams agrees to spy. As such, Charles and his son Henry travel to London.

    At the same time Henry's friend from Virginia, medical student Baxter Sams, is at the Royal College of Surgeons. He is attracted to Julia Birch, daughter of Sir Walter Birch. Julia reciprocates his regard, but has issues with his being a slave owner whose brothers are fighting for the Confederacy. Charles and Henry learn the English are assisting the South in their war with arms and steel-clad warships. The blockade running Baxter returns to the States while Charles tries to prevent the English made warships from causing havoc on Northern shipping and ports.

    Originally published as In the Lion's Den, Broken Promises is a terrific work of Civil War Era fiction that effortlessly merges the real account of Charles Adams with a romantic relationship subplot. Character driven as the audience sees deeply inside of the real personas (Charles and Henry); as well as the conflicting feelings that Englishwoman Julia has towards Baxter who she loves but loathes the inhumanity of owning people by him and his family. With just enough action to enhance the dysfunctional relationships, this is a wonderful Civil War drama.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Great Author

    This story gives life to an important time in American history. Great character development and flow. Very well written and attention to detail. Highly reccomended

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Choppy and hard to follow

    I bought when I should have previewed..... moments of insight kept me trying again ...but it is clearly not a good enough book for me.... I expect more


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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    A New Favorite

    It's 1861 and civil war has come to the United States, pitting the North against the South. Charles Adams is sent to England by President Lincoln to be the minister for the Union, along with his wife Abby Adams and son Henry. Henry's old college friend Baxter Sam attends the Royal College of Surgeons to become skilled in the trade of a physician and falls in love with London resident Julia Birch. While Charles and Henry politically battle those in England supplying the Confederacy, Baxter struggles with his loyalties to friends, his love, and his family.

    I completely loved Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman's Broken Promises. The cover, like the book, radiates sophistication and English reserve. I liked Julia from the very beginning, and although I wasn't sure I'd like Charles Adams I very much enjoyed reading about him and his family. All the characters were extremely likeable, and I felt a strong connection to every one of them. Julia's romance with Baxter was forbidden by society and judgmental parents, difficult in the way that the couple had to work to overcome barriers in their relationship, tender, and most importantly to me, clean. Just the way I like my love stories.

    The muddied logic of war and how it impacted friendships and relationships was expertly woven into the story, most memorably with Baxter's split loyalties. He's against slavery, yet all his friends and family live in the south. His home is being attacked, his brothers are in the war, what else can he do but help? I was frustrated along with Charles and his son Henry as they attempted to aid the Union from London against Britain's overwhelming favor of the Confederacy despite being neutral and the government's reluctance to interfere with those supplying the south.

    The language was exactly what I would have expected from that time period, and had lots of big words. The kind that left me scrambling for a dictionary like inauspicious, asinine, punctilious, aplomb, itinerant, assiduous, sangfroid, perspicacity and others. Words you don't hear every day. I enjoyed them greatly, but I bet there are some who wouldn't like the lesson in vocabulary. The beginning of each chapter had a quote from famous people, journals, books, letters, and newspapers, equally split between views supporting the Confederates and the Union.

    The details about Charles Adams' family, time in England as minister, and letters were all true, as well as the reactions and viewpoint he had on the war. The newspaper articles and editorials he read, as well as the people he met were meticulously researched, not to mention battle dates, conditions in the prisons, English culture, and any number of other aspects of this novel, which could have only gotten harder considering she wrote this book while teaching in Ireland. Days upon weeks of hard-core historical reading created this amazing book where the true life of Charles Adams is mixed tastefully with a fictional romance in a completely realistic picture of the Civil War.

    I applaud this book that definitely deserves 5 stars, and will be recommending it to my friends. I received a copy of this book free from Book Divas in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

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