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Cindy Bonner



Almost from the day she was born – in 1901 in McDade, Texas – Sunny DeLony has adored her first cousin, Gil. Their mothers are sisters and have raised their children as if they were siblings – wrestling and running wild.

Sunny can’t say exactly when their puppy love turned into something deeper, but before she was fifteen – and Gil seventeen – she knew things were different. Their families knew so, too, and wasted no time pulling them apart.

Gil volunteers for the Army. And while he is fighting in France, Sunny marries a local boy, only the first mistake Sunny and Gil make trying not to “sin.” These mistakes and the cousins’ eventual surrender to their love lead to broken hearts, broken marriages, exile. But somehow, wrong has always felt right to Sunny and Gil.

Once again Bonner perfectly captures the spirit of another time. Here are Texas farm families swept up in the drama of World War I and the devastation of their young men who fought it. Again, Bonner’s vivid characters grab us by the lapels on page one. Right from Wrong is a beautiful – and wrenching – love story set against the hills of Central Texas and the rooftops of Paris: a classic tale of love, war, and sin.


Orders came to move. Nobody knew to where. The line of trucks snaked its way over the French hills, going north, then east. Gears clashed. The big Pierce-Arrows swayed to the left, then to the right, like clumsy boats on a sea. They straddled holes, lumbered down into others, sank into mine craters and climbed out on the other side. Each one labored along behind the truck ahead, which tried to draw away and vanish in the misty night.

            Rome passed Gil a canteen filled with Mirabelle. Gil took a big swig and passed it back. The cognac flowed down hot enough to take away his breath, but it numbed everything. Rome huddled in the corner, tucked behind one of the tent halves they had tacked up over the doorways to block out the wet, but since there were no windshields, it didn’t help much. No headlights either. They were moving under blackness of night.

            Rain continued to slap at the roof of the cab. The tailgate of the truck ahead came up, faded away, came back again. As the hard rubber tires hit another deep shell hole, the steering wheel jolted out of Gil’s hands and the truck veered for the ditch. He came awake with a jerk, unaware till that second he’d gone to sleep for a moment. He wrestled the truck back into line. Over in the corner, sheltered under the tent half, Rome snored softly.

            The truck ahead faded in, faded out. Came. Went. Gil started singing, “I’ve been working on the railroad, all the livelong day...” to try to keep himself awake. He’d taken over from Rome just after midnight. Dawn was near. It had to be. It felt like two weeks had passed since nightfall.

            The convoy moved through what had once been a quiet village but was now nothing but black rubble, not one stone left atop another. Two hundred trucks, all in a line, moved up a long hill with a sweeping curve in the macadam road. To the north the flashes of war became visible. The crump of distant guns grew louder. The Rainbow Division was moving into the sector to relieve the weary men in the front line.

            Open portions of the road were draped with camouflage net strung from fifteen-foot poles. Troops tromped past on foot, on horseback, on bicycles, in caissons, and in two-wheel mule carts carrying ammunition for the machine guns. The Pierce-Arrows clambered past ammo dumps with acres of shells stacked up like cordwood in small separate piles. They passed a damaged tank discarded by the road, a crooked graveyard with hasty white crosses scattered around. They passed men coming away from the front with eyes that seemed to glow red in their blackened faces. 

            “Vive l’Amerique!” a group of them shouted, with fists raised and voices loud enough to roust Rome from his slumber.

            Rome scratched his eyes, sat up to stare. For a moment he seemed numbed by all that was around them. A pile of dead horses had been shoved off into a ditch. A group of French refugees straggled by, bundles on their backs, stooped old men driving nags, an old woman walking with a cane.

            “God, Dailey,” Rome mumbled. “This sure ain’t no quiet sector this time. They’ve done sent us to hell.”

            Gil peered at the gathering light on the horizon. He glanced at the leaping flashes of war, the sounds of high explosives whistling from the valley. The whole world seemed colored in shades of red, orange, and brown. It was mesmerizing, but he forced his eyes to stay on the truck ahead, moving up, falling back. He felt as if a blanket had been thrown over his soul.


"First page and you know she is a storyteller. The scene -- 1917 Texas -- is so vivid and particular. And beneath the tenderness and romance and perfect period ambience is serious, compelling drama -- the heartbreaking story of a girl who falls into "wildness" and a love beset by moral ambiguity. You read, you cry, you sigh. Cindy Bonner should have a great big audience."

--SANDRA SCOFIELD, author of Beyond Deserving and Plain Seeing