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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Broken Promises by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman

Broken Promises by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
Previously published as: In the Lion’s Den
ARC, Paperback, 336 pages
Ballantine Books
March 29, 2011
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review from Amazon Vine program
1861: The war that’s been brewing for a decade has exploded, pitting North against South. Fearing that England will support the Confederate cause, President Lincoln sends Charles Francis Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, to London. But when Charles arrives, accompanied by his son Henry, he discovers that the English are already building warships for the South. As Charles embarks on a high-stakes game of espionage and diplomacy, Henry reconnects with his college friend Baxter Sams, a Southerner who has fallen in love with Englishwoman Julia Birch. Julia’s family reviles Americans, leaving Baxter torn between his love for Julia, his friendship with Henry, and his obligations to his own family, who entreat him to run medical supplies across the blockade to help the Confederacy. As tensions mount, irrevocable choices are made—igniting a moment when history could have changed forever.”

This was a very different sort of read for me. I hadn't yet read anything about the American Civil War and this book certainly took on an interesting angle of this historic event. The bulk of the novel takes place in England, so as a reader we have the interesting perspective of seeing what the British reaction was to the Civil War. I had honestly never really considered the British impact and reaction to this event. For those of you that are like me and did not know about this – they were helping out the Confederacy and hoping for the dissolution of the Union. This entirely makes sense to me now.

While I was excited to see a different angle of this iconic event, it did end up being a little bit of a letdown. I would say about 75% of the book was focused primarily on the political aspect of the Civil War and the impact of British involvement. This led to a sometimes very dry reading experience. I appreciated the research and new knowledge acquired, but it would make me have to put down the book after only short periods of reading. We are not taken to the scene of the battlefields or witness any of the blood and guts you would expect in a war novel. The remaining 25% of the novel kept me fascinated and that was mostly the events that took place in the United States – and this was not due to the setting. During these portions there was action and adventure and the characters actually expressing emotions.

I very much enjoyed the main characters of this book. We have representatives of all sides of the war: Baxter Sams is a Confederate, Henry and Charles Adams are Union, and Julia Birch is British. This allows you to see all sides and opinions of the war. Baxter was my favorite for his personality and willingness to help his family despite personal political feelings.

I usually don’t pay much attention to quotes from other authors or books that sometimes grace the beginning of a chapter or section, but those selected in this novel were superb. There were selections from the Adams Cycle of Letters which was very pertinent as the Adams were a huge force in this novel. Most interesting to me was the selections from A Diary from Dixie because these gave little snippets of life from the Confederate side of the war. I plan on reading this Diary in its entirety and come back with more on this topic later.

Please be advised – this book was previously released under the title In the Lion’s Den – so if you have read that one, this is essentially the same book.  If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |J Julia

Also by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman

the hello girls
The Hello Girls

the hamilton affair
The Hamilton Affair

Find Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Fascinating! I'm adding this to my TBR because it's so unique sounding -- and I love the cover.

  2. Audra - it certainly is unique. A lot of politics - American and British. I had never thought about outside countries in regard to the American Civil War.

  3. Interesting aspect, however I'll pass. I'm not really into all that political stuff! Not to that extent at least. Love the cover though :)

  4. Jenny - I'm the same way - it was interesting but dry. I do like the cover tho!


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