cover image Tender Betrayal

Tender Betrayal

Rosanne Bittner, F. Rosanne Bittner. Fanfare, $5.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29808-6

As the conflict leading to the Civil War is intensifying, Audra Brennan, the daughter of a Louisiana plantation owner, is taking voice lessons in the North. There she falls in love with her instructor's son, Lee Jeffreys, who has taken her insecure, stuttering brother under his wing. At first, Audra's blithe acceptance of slavery repulses Lee, but after hearing her rationalization that to free the slaves all at once would destroy the South's economy, he relents, and the two share one passionate night before she returns to her father and her wealthy, older fiance. Bittner ( Outlaw Hearts ) has packed cliches about the South and about love into this utterly predictable romance. Audra's personal slave Toosie (so-called because she was born on Tuesday) is her half-sister; her husband is cruel in private but courtly in public; and she is too attached to the land she was raised on to consider moving North. Lee becomes a Union soldier and carries with him a sappy song that Audra wrote about her love for him, then accidentally kills Audra's brother in battle. In an about-face, after the war Audra befriends her former slaves and sets out with them for Kansas to build a new community. (Oct.)