Crosswinds, Cindy Holbyís third novel in this family saga, takes place in the United States during the Civil War. A ďPGĒ rating has been given for the romance, but an ďRĒ rating is deserved for the authorís detail of the atrocities of war. This story is not for the faint of heart. Itís also necessary for the reader to know that this story is action-driven and not about the romance between the hero and heroine since they begin the story already in love and married.
Catherine (ďCatĒ) Lynch Kincaid resides on a plantation in North Carolina that belongs to her husband Tyler (ďTyĒ) Kincaidís family. Ty and several friends are fighting as Confederates in the War Between the States. Cat does not get along with her brother- or sister-in-law, who are both very formal and proper. Cat is just the opposite. She loves to do things her own unconventional way. In fact, she does things like wearing riding pants to dinner just to make her sister-in-law cringe. Tyís mother also lives on the plantation, but she becomes ill and Cat spends her days and nights watching over her while she waits endlessly for Tyís return. Cat is emotionally conflicted for wanting her husband to walk away from the war and return to her so they can start a family.
Cat also longs to be with her family in Wyoming. Her sister has two very young children that Cat has never met. She also misses her father and friends. Catís family home in Wyoming is where she and Ty plan to continue their married life and raise children when the war is over.
The story switches back and forth between the characters in North Carolina and the characters in Wyoming. It takes several chapters to get used to this. Also, each chapter is several months to a year or more later than the one before. Itís up to the reader to pick up the clues as to how much time has passed. Each set of characters has their own mishaps, adventures and problems. Cat often reminisces about events and people in Wyoming and wonders how everyone is faring. We also learn first hand about the happenings with Catís father, sister, brother-in-law, the children, and friends.
One of the subplots involves a man named Wade Bishop, who Chase (Catís brother-in-law) has been hunting for years. Bishop deals in selling women into prostitution after kidnapping them from their families. Chaseís niece is missing and was last seen with Bishop. He is also responsible for kidnapping Jenny (Catís sister) when she was younger and scarring a friendís face. Unbeknownst to Chase and the others, Bishop is involved with Tyís Confederate troop of soldiers at one point in the story.
The relationship between Ty and Cat is sweet and poignant. They both love each other very much, but Ty is fighting in the war and Cat is never sure if heís safe, or even alive. Cat is a brave and very real heroine. She is not afraid to stand up for herself or her beliefs, but she reveals her fears and uncertainties when appropriate. Ty is also a realistic character. He is a reluctant participant in the war, but is duty-bound to his friends and honor keeps him from just walking away and returning home. Ty and Cat are only together briefly on a couple of occasions and then are in closer contact during some adventures at the end of the book. Romance is not a major plot for this book and the reader will be disappointed if she requires a passionate love story.
A problem lies in the way the story ends. After all the violence and tragedy that occurs throughout the book, a somewhat happy ending would have been a nice complement to the story. Instead, the tragedy continues right to the end, but the situation is anti-climactic and unimaginative. It leaves a lot to be desired.
Overall, the book works fairly well as a stand alone. And problems aside, Crosswinds is an incredibly realistic story containing honest depictions of the tragedies of the Civil War, the brutality of slavery, the hardship of uncertainty and difficult times and the agony of death. This is one story the reader will not easily forget.