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1866 – Mississippi
Widowed reverend Samuel Montgomery is excited to start over with his daughter in Natchez, Mississippi—until he learns he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t marry. His solution: a marriage in name only to heiress Clarissa Adams, who needs a husband to win her inheritance. Though the beautiful music teacher will make a good wife, Samuel doubts he can ever truly capture her heart.
Marriage satisfies only the first provision of Clarissa’s grandfather’s will, which pits her against her cousin. And fulfilling the remaining stipulations won’t be easy between caring for Samuel’s rebellious daughter and managing an orphanage. But Samuel seems determined to stand by her side…and maybe even prove their marriage could be more than just convenient.
1865 – Mississippi
Returning home, Confederate hero Colonel Graham Talbot faces his toughest battle yet—avoiding the marriage-minded young ladies in town vying for his attentions. With a stepmother and orphaned niece to support, the penniless soldier has no intention of marrying. Neither does the woman he once loved, his next-door neighbor Ellie Anderson. But Ellie has a proposal of her own: a pretend courtship to keep their unwanted admirers at bay.
Ellie’s unpredictable childhood left her determined to safeguard her independence—and her plantation. Blaming herself for driving Graham away to war, she devises a plan to help them both. But when it goes awry, Ellie will face a choice: save her beloved property…or trust in a relationship that’s becoming undeniably real.