Confederate cavalry captain Jason Tarkenton is fighting the battle of his life, desperate to save his fellow comrades-in-arms from their hated Yankee enemies. Suddenly, he hears a thunderous crack in the sky. The earth beneath his feet begins to shift as he is engulfed in darkness and mist.
Virginian Vickie Knox has spent most of her life listening to her grandfather’s tales about the Civil War. To humor his obsession, she agrees to don authentic garb for their farming town’s reenactment of a battle. But the stranger in rebel uniform who accosts her and takes her captive isn’t part of the festivities. He’s the real deal—a soldier in Robert E. Lee’s army who left unfinished business back in 1862.
Neither of them expects to fall in love. If Jason returns to the past, he could change the course of history—and risk losing Vickie forever. Unless she is willing to gamble her future on a love stronger than time itself . . .
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Heather Graham, including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
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About the Author
Heather Graham (b. 1953) is a bestselling author of more than 150 romance, suspense, and historical novels that have sold seventy-five million copies worldwide. Raised in Florida, Graham went to college for theater arts, and spent several years acting, singing, and bartending before she devoted herself to writing. Her first novel, When Next We Love, was published in 1982. Although she became famous as an author of romance novels, Graham has since branched out into supernatural horror, historical fiction, and suspense, with titles such as Tall, Dark, and Deadly (1999), Long, Lean, and Lethal (2000), and Dying to Have Her (2001). In 2003 the Romance Writers of America, whose Florida chapter Graham founded, granted her a lifetime achievement award. She lives, writes, and scuba dives in Florida with her husband and five children.
Read an Excerpt
The Last Cavalier
By Heather Graham
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1993 Heather Graham Pozzessere
All rights reserved.
"I tell you, it was very nearly the worst move old Stonewall made during the entire war!"
Liam Douglas's blue eyes were ablaze beneath his shocking white brows and his gnarled old fist made a startling smacking sound against the rough wood table.
Vickie poured more draft into Milt Mahoney's stein and watched a little anxiously as her grandfather drew breath for a reply to Liam. "Jackson was the best general the Confederacy ever had, and Lee damned well knew it!"
Gramps was just as vehement as Liam. His great fist thundered against the table and his eyes crackled with the same blue fire beneath brows as white and bushy as Liam's. The difference between the two octogenarians, Vickie decided, was that Liam had a few strands of hair left, while Gramps was as bald as a buzzard.
"I say that Jackson made one hell of a mistake here!" Liam insisted.
Vickie decided that it was time for her to step into the discussion. "Boys, boys, boys, now!" She swooped into the midst of them, giving both Gramps and Liam refills on their beer. She smiled sweetly at all six of the old men filling her grandfather's tiny establishment and reminded them, "The war ended quite some time ago, you know! Well over a hundred years ago now! It was 1865, remember?"
Liam grinned sheepishly; Gramps looked disgruntled. His kepi was askew on his bald head and despite the air- conditioning in the little tavern, he was sweating. This was a big week for the small Virginia farming town. Not only would the battle itself be reenacted on Saturday, but already, some of the largest reenactment encampments ever drawn together were being set up out in Miller's cornfield right alongside the mountain. Everyone in town was involved in the reenactment in some way. Even those bored by history were entranced by the money-making possibilities stretching before them.
Of course, Gramps had always been a major-league Civil War buff, just like Liam. And therefore, she thought, so was she.
Gramps had gleefully decided that with all the tourists in town, they should dress just like the reenactors. So there he sat, in a Virginia militia field-artillery uniform, while she was walking around serving coffee and beer, dressed in a long antebellum dress. Gramps wanted to get the folks into the spirit of the festivities when they came in for their sandwiches and drinks, and this was the way to do it, he had decided.
She had refused point-blank at first—Gramps's passions got to be a bit too much for her at times—but then he had looked at her so mournfully that she had changed her mind. Gramps's business included an artifacts shop as well as the tavern, and there were times when it felt as if she'd had the history of the place up to her teeth.
But she loved Gramps. He was her only living relative. He'd been there for her when Brad had been killed. Gramps had been her only strength. While she still had the dear old man in her life, she was going to do her best to cherish him. He had wanted her in the dress and petticoats, and she could handle that. But she'd drawn the line at the pantalets and corset. There was no way she was crawling into that part of the costume, and he'd better think good and hard about it! Who was ever going to know what she wore beneath the dress?
Gramps had conceded, but it seemed that she had gained a small victory now. Her russet hair was clumped into a net at her nape and she was dying to set it free, just as she was dying to rid herself of the hot layers of her calico gown.
Glancing up at the clock, she saw that the afternoon was gone. She had promised Karen and Steve that she would come down to the Union camp and see them for dinner. Had she told them six? It was almost six now.
The discussion among the old men had picked up again. They had moved on to the battle of Gettysburg. Vickie politely interrupted them. "Do you need me anymore, Gramps?"
"What? Uh, no, honey. You can run on out and see your friends." He hesitated and added gruffly, "You still going to the Yankee camp?"
She had to laugh, setting a kiss upon his bald head. "Gramps, once again! The war ended, remember?" She set her hands upon his shoulders, lowering her head to whisper in his ear. "And I hate like hell to tell you this, but they did win, you know!" She heard his grunt, then rose, winking at his comrades.
Liam snickered and Gramps offered her the ghost of a smile.
"If I were you, young lady," Milt warned her, "I'd take that little filly of yours rather than a car. They aren't letting any cars into the fields where the tents are pitched. Since they have a bunch of the historical-society types coming in with their cameramen and all, they're trying to make everything look just as authentic as possible. You'll have to park way down the road, and you'll have a long, long walk!"
"Thanks for the suggestion, Milt," Vickie told him, glad to receive the information. She wasn't really all that far from the encampments, and Arabesque could certainly use the exercise.
She kissed her grandfather again. "'Night, Gramps."
"Don't you fraternize with them Yankees too long," Liam teased.
"I promise not to divulge any military secrets," she added with a grin.
Vickie passed from the taproom into the entryway of the old house. She intended to go up to her room and change, but then she paused at the stairway and shrugged. Karen and Steve were very taken up by the make-believe of the whole event. She would stay dressed just as she was.
Gramps's house was old, far older than the Civil War. The carved stairway had been there since the late 1700s, and a tall man could barely walk through some of the doorframes. The foundation for the house had been laid in the late 1600s. It had been a tavern on and off for almost three hundred years.
In the dim light in the entryway she caught sight of her reflection in the wavery hallway mirror. She realized she definitely looked the part that Gramps had asked her to play. Her hand was against her throat and her full skirts were standing out and a web of net still held the bulk of her nearly waist-length hair. Called a day dress, her simple cotton gown had a high-buttoned bodice and a small frill of lace along the wrists, neckline and hem. It was pretty, though, and the dark colors of the plaid went well with her deep auburn hair and bright blue eyes. Gramps had ordered the dress for her from a company that produced the historically accurate uniforms the "soldiers" wore for the reenactments.
She shrugged at her reflection, thinking that the full skirts were actually flattering to her long legs and slim waist. Maybe she'd been unfair to resent the costume all day. "Let's get into the spirit of this thing!" she chastised her mirror image.
Going out the front of the house, she walked around to the rear of the old barn outside and into the stables.
Of the ten stalls, only two were in use, one by Dundee, the other by Arabesque. Vickie had bought Arabesque when she had first come home. Arabesque was a beautiful Arabian mare with a deep "dish" nose, the most beautifully cream-colored mane and tail, and softest bay body that Vickie had ever seen. In the deep and painful confusion that had haunted her after Brad's death, Vickie had learned to appreciate her investment. She had once believed she would never be able to truly accept what had happened. But roaming the endless blue and green fields and forest of the Virginia countryside on the sweet, spirited creature had allowed Vickie to come to a certain peace. She loved the mare.
Vickie slipped a bridle over the horse's nose, led her from her stall, and decided that no one could possibly be looking and made a less-than-ladylike leap onto the mare's sleek, bare back.
Heading northward, she gave Arabesque free rein, delighting in the cooler air that was coming with the setting of the sun. Summer had been viciously hot. Only the evenings gave a slight respite.
She slowed to skirt a neighbor's cornfield, then raced across a barren plain again, climbed over the mountain, and at last saw the endless rows of authentically reproduced Civil War tents that stretched all along the cornfields. Yanks to the west, Rebels to the east, and all manner of sutlers, or salesmen of various goods, were set up in between. Vickie reined Arabesque to a standstill. There was really something special about the scene. The giant Coca-Cola truck—which had been parked there all through the long, hot afternoon by the sutlers' stands—was long gone, as was the big semi that had hauled in Porky's Big Pit Barbecue. The sun was almost down. The horizon gleamed gold and pink over the few sentries who packed corncob pipes and leaned against wooden fences. A lone fiddler, silhouetted in the waning light, played a soft and mournful tune.
"It really is rather beautiful, Gramps," she said softly.
Vickie nudged Arabesque and picked her way down the mountain and through the trails within the cornfields. She came upon the fiddler who had been joined by a young man with a harmonica. She smiled, listening to them. "Pretty tune," she said at last.
The fiddler, a young man with warm brown eyes and hair, smiled back. "Pretty lady," he replied softly.
Her smile deepened. "Thanks. Could you tell me where I could find the 5th Pennsylvania Artillery, Company B?" she asked him then.
The soldier gave Arabesque a pat on her silky neck. He saluted, tipping his kepi to her. "Straight on down the line here," he advised her. "You can't miss them. They've a big flag out with their insignia on it."
"Thanks again. And good night."
She idly walked Arabesque down the line, then noticed the flag for the 5th Pennsylvania Artillery just a few tents up ahead.
"Steve!" she cried delightedly.
Vickie slid off Arabesque and ran forward to meet the tall slim man with the slightly graying beard who had called her name. He picked her up off her feet, twirled her around, and set her at arm's length from himself. "You're looking good, Vickie, real good! The country air must agree with you!"
She shrugged. "Coming home is always good for the spirit, I think."
He smiled at her warmly. "It's a really beautiful place to come home to. I'm enjoying it tremendously here."
"Vickie!" Karen, Steve's wife, came running around the tent, with her dimpled face aglow, green eyes flashing, and braided blond hair flying. Vickie hugged her friend enthusiastically, then pushed away from her. At first she had thought that Karen had put on a little weight. But the hug had allowed her to realize that Karen was pregnant!
"Oh, you didn't tell me!" Vickie chastised. Then she added quickly, "Congratulations! How very wonderful! Oh, Karen! Are you sure you should be out here like this in your condition?"
"Vickie! I'm pregnant, not sick!" Karen assured her with a laugh. "Besides, Steve has a phone in his car and I'm not due for over three months. I'm fine. Promise."
"Fine enough to sleep in a tent?" Vickie asked, looking from one to the other of the pair.
"I'd sleep anywhere with Steve," Karen assured her, taking her husband's arm affectionately.
"Sure! Make me the heavy!" he moaned, but his gaze upon his wife was very tender. For the first time in a long time, Vickie felt the jagged edge of pain and loss sweep through her. She gritted her teeth, forcing her smile to stay in place. She could remember love like that.
"Come on," Karen said, blissfully unaware of her friend's heartache. "Let me introduce you around."
A number of Steve's fellows from the company were already milling around, jockeying to be close to the newcomer. Vickie was complimented on her gown and her horse, and then on her eyes. At that point, Karen told them all to behave and led Vickie to the cooking pot where she looked down with a mournful expression at some very pathetic vegetables.
"Made from a historically accurate recipe—but not exactly gourmet," Karen warned her. Vickie laughed.
"I don't care what I eat, as long as I eat with friends!" she teased her.
Karen flashed her a quick smile. "Yes, well, thanks to that big lunch I had from Porky's Barbecue, I'm able to agree. Look at this stuff—yuck!"
"Well, I suppose it's authentic."
Karen shoved an onion around with a large wooden spoon. "Maybe it doesn't taste as bad as it looks," she suggested hopefully.
"Maybe ... Then again, I should have had the two of you up to the tavern. Gramps makes the meanest chili you've ever tasted this side of the Rio Grande."
"Torture! Torture!" Karen said, shaking her head. "Odd, how I just have a craving for chili at this moment. Well, we'll survive."
Dinner really wasn't so bad. Steve was in with a nice group of guys. One of his friends, Jerry Svenson, told her that the company was made up of New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians and Ohioans. They came from all walks of life, and tried to meet at least three times a year to decide which reenactments, battles and encampments they were going to do each year. "We're actually an open lot," he told her. "Some of the companies—North and South—are made up of men who hail from the same town, and had ancestors in the exact same companies in the real war. Real bunches of good old boys! They fight the war over and over again, as if it were still real. Fanatics."
She smiled, enjoying the cool breeze. "My grandfather is one of those 'good old boys,'" she told him.
"Oh, sorry! I didn't mean—"
"It's all right. And it is funny sometimes. They all had ancestors who actually fought right here, and believe me, they almost come to blows over who made the mistakes!"
"It's easy to become overly involved!"
His words were no sooner out than voices rose around them. Someone was arguing that Ulysses S. Grant had been no better than his predecessors—he had just come around with more men and supplies when Lee's men had just been too decimated and dog-tired to fight anymore.
The reply was quick and furious. Grant had been a damned good general—at the very least, he'd quit retreating.
Vickie smiled. She realized that she was having a good time. She also realized that Steve and Karen were trying very hard to make sure that she had a good time, and that was why they had invited her here. There were a few other wives around like Karen, who had joined their husbands in the reenactment. But the company was mainly male, and Vickie was definitely receiving a fair share of masculine attention.
And Jerry was pleasant. He was a single stockbroker with nice brown eyes and a deep, rich baritone voice.
Vickie just wasn't in the market.
"Where did you meet Steve and Karen?" he asked her.
"My husband and Steve started off in school together. We've been friends for years."
He frowned at the word husband. Karen was calling her, and Vickie decided not to enlighten Jerry as to her widowed status. She grinned, excused herself and hurried to Karen. The marshmallows Karen had tried to roast had turned to charred globs of glue.
Vickie laughed, trying to get Karen started again. "I give up!" Karen moaned. She watched Vickie as Vickie reset the sticks to go over the fire. "So how do you like Jerry?"
"He's very nice." She handed the sticks to Karen. "Now toast them—don't melt them."
But Karen ignored the marshmallows.
"Vickie, I know how deeply in love you and Brad were. But he's been dead a long time now. And I'm beginning to think that you're burying yourself down here—"
"I'm not," Vickie assured her quickly, squeezing her friend's hand. "I don't intend to mourn forever and ever ... honest. It's just that I had the right thing once. If the right thing comes around again, I'll know it."
"But, Vickie, you'll never know—"
"And honestly, Jerry is very nice. I enjoyed his company. And I'll be back. I'll see you tomorrow. Tomorrow the public is allowed in and visit the camps, right? I'll come and sit with you for a while." She wrinkled her nose and deepened her accent, addressing the group. "Besides, I promised Gramps that I wouldn't spend too much time with any damned Yanks!"
"Leave if you have to—but don't forget, you promised us chili, right?" Karen laughed, and let her go. Steve came along, leading Arabesque. Vickie thanked him and mounted the horse. Again she waved a cheerful good-night to all of Company B, and turned Arabesque around to retrace her steps back home.
Excerpted from The Last Cavalier by Heather Graham. Copyright © 1993 Heather Graham Pozzessere. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Could have been 5 stars if her medical descriptions had been accurate. She describes a tetanus shot as stopping infections when in fact it does not stop general infections like an antibiotic would. It's specific for tetanus. It can also prevent certain other diseases such as whooping cough and diphtheria but she did not specify which serum was used. Also, a tetanus vaccine is always give in the arm - deltoid and not in the rear end. Besides these errors, I loved the book. Hard-hitting time travel romance. Very descriptive. Some explicit sex scenes. If you are a Civil War history buff, you will certainly enjoy this one. Absolutely loved the ending!!!!!!
This book fits the Harlequin mold very well so I'm fairly certain that it was just a poor genre choice on my part. The writing is fine, as always, but I can't connect with the material. I just think this book isn't my style. Given that I usually read thrillers this standard romance isn't for me. Fans of light romance should enjoy it though.
I don't normally write reviews, but I did really enjoy this book. It was an easy read with an interesting story even though it's a classic time travel theme. I'll look to see if there's a sequel because I'd really like to follow the characters further.
This is the first of her romance novels that I have read. It kept my attention and I loved the time travel element. But I truly love her Krewe of Hunters novels.
This was a great story if you like time travel and civil war history with a good douse of romance and sexy scenes! There was good character development although I wished the book was longer. I liked all of the history references-it mixed well within the plot. I also liked the suspense and climax of the story. I wished the ending lasted longer with more details but I'm still pretty happy with this book!