Coffee Time Romance
The Scary Reviewer MeriBeth McCombs
On-line Review Magazine
from Reviewer Janean
Rating: 5 Angels (highest rating)
Angele Valmont is a very
unusual Confederate woman. While other Southern young ladies were
learning to sew, she was learning about the shipping industry. After her
father’s death, she has handled the shipping business for her sister
Charlie and her cousins. Angele is a strong and independent woman who is
very disgusted with Union General Butler’s General Order 28. The
order states “when any woman of New Orleans shall by word, gesture, or
movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the
United States shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman
of the town plying her avocation”.
While out one day in town, Angele is assaulted by some Union soldiers,
who think because of General Order 28 they may do anything they want to
the women of New Orleans. To her surprise a Yankee, Major James Darling,
saves her. Although Angele tries to ignore her feelings for James, she
just cannot do it. Like a moth to a flame, Angele is drawn to James,
Yankee or not.
For James, Angele is like a cool drink of water on a hot steamy New
Orleans day. She is a lady who is very strong and generous. He is very
smitten right from the start and cannot get her out of his mind. She is
like a magnet, pulling him to her and James does not wish to ever leave
Angele knows well she and James cannot have a public relationship due to
the scandal it would cause her family. The Valmonts have had more than
their share of scandal and Angele will not allow any new scandal to ruin
the social coming out of her sister Charlie. Will Angele and James be
able to find happiness? Or will the rules of New Orleans’ society keep
them apart forever?
This is one amazing love story that will take readers on an emotional
adventure of the heart. I was so immersed into the lives of these
fascinating people that I could not put the book down even once. T.D.
McKinney and Aimee Masion take you right into the middle of the Civil
War. You will learn about the hardships both sides faced. You will see
first hand how strong and brave these Southern women were while still
being very much ladies! I am hoping for a sequel to see what happens to
Charlie and the cousins. I am looking forward to reading more of Ms.
McKinney’s and Ms. Masion’s soul–searing and heart-wrenching books! This
duo definitely has a winner in My Secret Yankee.
On-line Review Magazine
from Reviewer Gen Thomas
Rating: 5 Cups (highest rating) - Very Rare, Extraordinary Read
The Valmont family is a corner stone of the Creole community in New
Orleans but has always flirted with scandal and Angele Valmont is no
exception; but, they are facing the biggest yet. The war is casting its
dark shadow over the Valmont family and secrets and switching loyalties
are threatening to be its downfall.
The Yankees are destroying the once genteel way of life that the people
of the South held dear. They may not be able to fight back, but they can
make the Yankees as unwelcome as possible and Major James Darling is
feeling it keenly. An encounter with Angele Valmont changes his
opinion of a real southern welcome and he falls deeply in love with her.
Angele is more than aware that society would never accept a match
between a southern lady and a Yankee Major. Her sister Charlie’s come
out year is underway and she is terrified that her actions will
jeopardize her sister’s chances of a good marriage. Charlie Valmont has
her own ideas and has set her sights on a possibly even more scandalous
match, her disowned childhood sweetheart Wesley Leighton.
Séverin Valmont is determined that his cousins take their rightful place
in society and will not approve their choices no matter what the cost to
their hearts. However Angele finds her passion for James will not be
denied and she flouts convention and takes him as her lover, and then
marries him in secret. When James’ long forgotten transfer request to
join troops at the front is granted, he leaves Angele with the promise
that he will return to care for his family. Weeks later
Angele is devastated when she hears news of his death and realizes it is
too late for her to show the world how much she loved him.
My Secret Yankee was a joy to read. It is rich in historical detail
without being over powering. In fact, the attention to detail gives real
depth to the characters and the plot and really brings New Orleans to
life. Although the plot pivots on the love affair between Angele and
James, it is complimented by the long standing relationship of Séverin
and his lover Antoine and their constant tap dancing to keep their love
on the right side of respectable, as well as the emerging romance of Wes
and Charlie. The reticence of Angele to acknowledge her relationship
with James could be a huge obstacle for the character to gain any
sympathy. However, Ms. McKinney and Ms. Masion draw such a vivid
description of society and its restrictions you cannot help but feel her
and the agony she goes through when she realizes her mistake of not
publicly acknowledging her love for James.
This book is both uplifting and heart wrenching at different times, with
even a few sparks of humour thrown in. I only wish Wes and Charlie and
Séverin and Antoine had books of their own.
On-line Review Magazine
from Reviewer Marina
Rating: Cupid Plot Factor 4.5 Cupid Pleasure Factor 3.5
In the midst of the Civil
War, New Orleans is occupied by the Union Army and slowly but surely the
Confederate Army is being beaten and broken. Under General Strong's
decree the women of New Orleans are deemed whores and are to be treated
as such by the Union soldiers. Angele Valmont unfortunately gets the
results from this decree when three Union soldiers accost her on her way
home. Her virtue and sanity are saved by Major James Darling rushing to
her side and protecting her. This action leads to a very quick to spark
attraction and an affair between the two. Their affair is one that
causes the two such glorious moments of passion and ecstasy, yet has to
be kept secretive and behind closed doors. Likewise Angele's cousin and
her step sister each have love affairs that have to be kept secretive
and out of public consumption for fear of public scrutiny and reaction.
These three couples all go through the bitterness, pain, and loss that
their scorned love affairs cause, yet for all of them their shared love
is worth all the strife if they can maintain the secrecy. With the added
strain of loss of life because of the war and the lack of resources this
family and their lovers go through tumultuous times irregardless of
their love that may tear them apart if the city they love falls into
ruins as well as their livelihood.
This is truly what a historical romance aspires to be. It is so richly
descriptive about Civil War New Orleans and the people inhabiting it
that even the minutest of detail is discussed with clarity and insight.
It is a bit overwhelming to start at 300 plus pages, but once the story
grabs hold of you the pages fly by and you are fully immersed in the
story and feel kinship to each and every character. Each of the six main
characters in this book are so unique and their stories so interesting
it is a wonder this novel is not far longer or broken into three volumes
for each pair's love story. Angele and James are by far the two central
characters and their story is fantastic. The love they share for one
another is written so well and their joy and pain become your joy and
pain. This is not a novel with highly sexual scenes, it is a romance
with tender but few love scenes, so if you are looking for erotica this
is not your book. I would classify this book as in the style of
historical romances by Heather Graham and Judith McNaught. You will find
rich detail intermixed with true historical events and people, as well
as, pull at your heart moments between all the characters. I truly
enjoyed this book and learned quite a bit about the Civil War and New
This definitely is a heart-warmer of a story with some teeth and
characters you believe in and want to see happy. Well done!
On-line Review Blog
February 8, 2005
Rating: 5/5 (highest rating)
A history lesson hidden
inside a romance novel... that's the best description I can give to
My Secret Yankee by T. D. McKinney and Aimée Masion. This book is
Ms. McKinney's second and Ms. Masion's first. It's also the first
collaboration for each writer, yet you'd never notice it from the
writing. My Secret Yankee defies a true classification, it's
not really a history book nor is it solely romance novel. With a wide
and varied cast, three vastly different romances happening
simultaneously, this novel is more a 'family saga' then a romance novel.
The primary focus though is on the love affair of Angele Valmont
For Angele Valmont, the occupation of New Orleans by the Union Army
brought a million changes. For a woman of the Confederacy, nothing could
be more difficult than falling in love with a Yankee, could it? Ah, but
there are indeed more difficulties for the fair Angele. She must present
a scandal-free public persona in order to protect her younger sister's
reputation thereby putting a horrible strain on her affair with Union
Major James Darling.
As a member of the occupying army, Major James Darling was persona non
grata in Confederate-sympathetic New Orleans. Still, he wasn't about to
allow a lady, even a Southern one, be assaulted by the soldiers of the
Union Army determined to take advantage of General Butler's General
Order 28. Discovering that the woman he'd saved was the same one who'd
fascinated him on his first day in the city was a very pleasant
surprise. For Major Darling, Angele Valmont is a breath of freshness
amongst the festering heat and hatred of New Orleans.
It’s obvious from the first page that both authors took the time to
meticulously research the history of New Orleans during the Civil War
era, or as Angele would put it, the War of Northern Aggression. The
history blends in seamlessly with the various love stories forming a
very rich tapestry of a book. In addition to the primary story, that of
Angele Valmont and James Darling, there’s the courtship of Charlie
Valmont by Wesley Leighton, a Southern gentleman fighting for the Union
Army, and the long-standing romance between Séverin Valmont and Antoine
Brouillette, a romance that constantly hovers on the edge of scandal.
My Secret Yankee dances a fine edge between love and hate,
happiness and depression, and leaves you breathless for more by the end.
My only regret with regard to this book is the fact that you are left
hanging with regard to the fates of some characters. I would dearly love
a sequel to the novel, exploring the future of the
Valmont/Darling/Leighton families as the war progesses. Though marketed
as a stand-alone novel, it is my opinion that My Secret Yankee
is, perhaps, better viewed as the first in a series of novels about
these familes. Here's hoping that Ms. McKinney and Ms. Maison revisit
these fascinating characters at a future date.
~ MeriBeth McCombs
May 19, 2004
In the grand tradition of Janet Dailey and
Nora Roberts, My Secret Yankee is a delightfully rich tapestry of life
in occupied New Orleans. Ms. McKinney and Ms. Mason take the reader on a
roller coaster ride of emotion as they introduce us to the Valmont
family. Wealthy Creole aristocrats, they love where they will regardless
of scandal. While Angele Valmont and Major James Darling's romance may
be the centerpiece of the story, they share the screen delightfully with
Charlie Valmont's more proper courtship by Captain Wesley Leighton.
Add in Severin Valmont and his deliciously scandalous liaison with
Antoine Broullette and you wonder just who's proper and who's not.
Still, I long
for a second novel, for while all's well and good, a war still rages,
the major and the captain are still in the military, too many things
could ruin the Valmont happiness. I want another novel about this
lovely family, just to be assured that things stay well.
Texas Professional Writers Association"
Charter Member "Pulpwood
Queens of Tarrant County,"
28 September, 2004
Slightly wicked, deliciously lovely, My Secret Yankee begins with
the proclamation from Major-General Benjamin Butler’s heinous General
Order # 28 posted to Angele Valmont’s house. The genteel society of New
Orleans’ Creole upper crust unfolds in a glamorous tale of love, honor
and deception. Major James Darling of the Union Army learns the torment
of loving Angele, a beautiful Rebel, while the war rages around them.
This is a “must-read” for Civil War buffs and romance lovers alike.