A Heart Divided by Angie WilliamsA Heart Divided by Angie Williams is a historical set in the New Mexico Territory in 1868, where a lady rancher is forced to hire an ex-confederate soldier to run her ranch.

Since her husband was killed by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, Emma Stevens dislikes and distrusts any man who fought for that side. Their ranch is on the ropes, though, and when the very last person she wants to hire shows up she has to do it or lose her husband’s legacy. The man is good with horses, has solid business sense, and bonds quickly with her young son Ollie. Worse than all that is the fact she finds him handsome and alluring.

Desperate for steady work and a quiet place to hide from his past, Jack Logan is grateful for the opportunity Emma gives him. He quickly grows to love little Ollie, and finds it increasingly impossible to hide his growing attraction to the beautiful widow. He has to do it, though, because if Emma finds out Jack was born female he’ll be on his own again, just as he has finally found a home.


From a great opening sentence, this book is full of vivid description, a riveting plot and heavy emotional stakes both for Emma and Jack and between Emma and Jack. Finding their way to each other would be easy except each of them has a heart divided by emotional history and heavy secrets. Jack is especially tortured by having to hide for so long under horrid circumstances, and dealing with distress over his gender identity and fears about Emma’s reaction to finding out his biggest secret.

The use of gender pronouns is nicely fluid, and helps the reader keep track of which character they’re reading about. Jack has no problems referring to himself as “that little girl” while remaining fully male. There is quite a bit of narration concerning the mechanics of hiding his sex from the world, which I found fascinating. This pairs nicely with a lot of historical accuracy, like using a little remembered but hugely significant battle near Emma’s ranch.

Pros And My Favourite Parts

The story as a whole is very pleasant. Jack is a great character who, even though he is confident in his abilities and not conflicted by his gender, has suffered a lot through his life hiding his sex from the world and enduring a nasty war. He agonizes for a long time about his love for Emma and I really felt the depth of that fear and hopelessness, compounded by his great need to finally find love, a family, and a home.

Emma takes a while falling in love with Jack, who she takes to be a man. She’s impressed by his abilities and the eccentricities the reader understands is due to having grown up female. Watching her little boy fall in love with the handsome cowboy is yet another fraught situation, and having to shed her hatred for anything Confederate.

The two may have deep emotional issues to deal with before and after finding love, but they are not alike and provide a nicely intricate tale. Wondering how in the world the author would bridge the gap once Emma discovers Jack’s sex kept me intrigued for a long time. I felt impatient to get to that part, and then laughed at myself a bit for being impatient.

Heads Up

Some wild west violence, terribly misogynistic language, family disfunction and deep gender issues.

The Conclusion

Emma desperately needs a ranch manager or she’ll lose everything she and her husband built before the Civil War took him from her. Jack has all the qualifications she needs but was a Confederate soldier, like the ones who killed her husband. He needs a steady job in a place far from the home he ran from years ago as a little girl. Neither of them are looking for love and both have reasons to resist their growing attraction. External and internal conflicts pull them together even as they fight their feelings.

Historical accuracy gives the book strength, as does deep dives into the mechanics of hiding one’s sex from a dangerous world and Jack’s issues with gender identity. Jack feels fully male, but his fear about Emma discovering his sex is a daunting barrier to a love neither expected to find. Their emotional struggles come from different places but are just as strong, making the plot intricate and the romance powerful.

Excerpt from A Heart Divided by Angie Williams

There was something about Jack that set him apart from any man she’d ever known. He’d obviously wanted to hide it from the world, but she caught brief glimpses of it here and there.

That tenderness pulled her to him and made her want to trust him even though the voices in her head told her she had to beware.

“You have my word…Emma. There’s nothing that my injury will prevent me from doing. It’s purely cosmetic. I thank you for your concern, and I am indebted to your kindness and understanding. You’re a remarkable woman; I’ll do whatever it takes to make your ranch successful. Just as your Charlie would have wanted.”

Emma’s heart stuttered at the mention of her dead husband’s name. She thought about him constantly, but hearing someone else utter his name always left a lump in her throat. They still needed to discuss some things, but Emma felt the need to escape back to the safety of her own home.

“Yes. Thank you.” Emma stood and pushed her chair into the table before walking toward the door. “I’ll leave you to your meal.” Emma placed her hand on the doorknob and turned back to look at Jack, who had quietly begun to gain her trust. She hoped her heart wasn’t sending her straight into trouble. Charlie had always warned her about being too soft in trusting strangers, and he would likely scold her if he were still alive.

Of course, she wouldn’t be in this position if he were alive.

Jack stood and walked toward her. Her breath caught in her throat as he reached out to her as if he would take her hand. Instead, he slipped hers gently off the doorknob and turned it to open the door.

“Thank you, Emma.” He leaned his shoulder against the door and crossed his ankles. It was the most relaxed she’d seen him since he’d arrived, and Emma couldn’t help but notice his long and lean frame. He’d dropped his arms from his chest, but she wasn’t sure if it was because he was now wearing the jacket or he’d given up hiding his injury since they’d spoken.

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Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-1-63679-538-6

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Angie Williams Online


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