Anne-Marie, Abigail and Amelia McDougal are orphans from Mercy Flats, Texas, who make a living as con artists, disguising themselves as nuns to inspire trust in those they plan to relieve of their money. The sisters are being hauled to jail when their wagon is attacked by an Indian raiding party. They escape—barely—with the assistance of three men who just happened to be passing, but the sisters are separated in the escape.
Sisters of Mercy Flats then follows the story of Abigail, the middle sister, as she is carried off by weedy Hershall Digman, a travelling shoe salesman. (Well, that’s what we are supposed to think. The book blurb reveals that he is actually Captain Barrett
Drake, a spy for the Confederate Army, trying to get some important documents to aid in an upcoming battle).
It wasn’t clear who the story was actually going to be about for the first couple of chapters, and by the time it became apparent that it was only about the immature and annoying Abigail, I had already come to the conclusion that I didn’t like her (Anne-Marie was the sister who most caught my interest). The fact that the story was written almost entirely from Abigail’s point of view didn’t help. I would have like to see more from Hershall/Barrett, as I didn’t feel he was ever fleshed out properly as a character.
There was a fast-paced start but after the sisters were separated, it really seemed to slow down, and I found the problems started to outweigh the good points. The sisters had a Robin Hood approach to ethics that didn't sit comfortably with me. They seemed to subscribe to the idea of a victimless crime. I don't. And (at the risk of giving a spoiler) I didn’t think there was sufficient acknowledgement of or repentance from this attitude from Abigail. We were told her attitude had changed, but not shown. I wasn’t convinced.
I also got confused with the timing. In the early chapters it seemed of vital importance that Hershall/Bennett reach Shreveport as quickly as possible, yet they seemed to waste several days in the journey. And I found it odd that a Confederate spy would give a speech about the importance of freedom, given the views of most Southerners about slavery. So was he fighting for slavery or freedom? But I’m not American and most of what I know about the Civil War was learned from Christian novels, so who knows how accurate my views are.
The romance came together very quickly, and I’m not convinced it would last, because of Abigail’s immaturity. Overall, while the basic plot had potential, I had to force myself to finish Sisters of Mercy Flats. Recommended for those who like light romantic westerns by authors like Lori Wick and Karen Baney.
Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.