cover image Broken Promises

Broken Promises

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Ballantine, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-345-52455-3

Originally self-published as In the Lion's Den, Hoffman's accomplished but dry Civil War intrigue arrives in trade paperback with a new title. In 1861, Charles Francis Adams, son of deceased president John Quincy Adams, embarks for England on a spy mission for Abraham Lincoln. There, he gathers information, with the aid of his capable son, Henry, about the empire's reaction to America's growing conflict. Meanwhile, Henry's Harvard friend Baxter Sams, a Virginian studying medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons, takes note of Julia Birch, the young daughter of Sir Walter Birch. While Julia develops conflicting feelings for Baxter, a slave owner and blockade runner with brothers in the Confederate army, the espionage efforts of Charles and Henry yield frightening results—the English have "colluded with the Confederacy to make war upon the North" and built steel-clad warships for the Confederate army. Baxter travels to America and is imprisoned, forcing Julia to decide where she stands, and Charles succeeds in keeping the warships from completing their mission. Readers who relish the period will appreciate Hoffman's capable mélange of fact (the basic Adams narrative) and fiction (Baxter and Julia). (Apr.)