This was the first Kleypas book I read. I got it for half a dollar from a used books store and let's say it was well worth it =). It got me reading her other novels, although I still prefer this one to the later ones and return to it from time to time.
I liked both the hero who was dashing and dangerous, very sexy. I presume I could have fallen in love with him. He was a headstrong but relaxed sort of fellow in an uptight environment and the heroine had a little more backbone and a little less naiveté than historical romance heroines generally do. The development of their romance was on the whole believable and I could identify with most of their actions. Kleypas is a good storyteller who creates tension in this novel by adding disease, jealousy and traditional fear of acknowledging one's true feelings. Even though these are classic romance novel traits I did not have the much too common feeling that everything was predictable.
The love scenes were well written and engaging. I also liked the fact that it wasn't "mere romance": a crucial plot element is the American civil war and the relationships between southerners and northerners. You could say there's a bit of Romeo and Juliet in the novel since the southerner hero is a persona non grata in the heroine's northern hometown. But fortunately these two young people are stronger than Romeo and Juliet and therefore manage to make much better of their lives. I like survivor spirit in a novel character.
The less important characters and the newspaper subplot are well chosen to develop the story. One final romantic touch that moved me was the conduct of the hero's business associate at the last pages of the novel. But let's not say anything more about it, I don't want to spoil it for you if you find it somewhere. Too bad this is out of print.