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Broken Promises: A Novel of the Civil War

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  161 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Originally published as In the Lion’s Den

Winner of the San Diego Book Award for Best Historical Fiction
Director’s Mention, Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction

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 J
Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Published (first published October 13th 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

Charles Francis Adams (son of John Quincy Adams) is sent to London by Lincoln as a diplomatic representative of the U.S. His son Henry is along for the trip and they're soon mixed up in the growing tensions as the U.S. splits in two - and England seems to side towards the south. There's also a side story involving Henry's old friend Baxter Sams and Englishwoman Julia Birch. Baxter's from the south, Julia's family thinks she too good for any American and Henry and Baxter's friendship is
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The perfect combination of historical characters and events with fictional characters and romance. It was intriguing, heart-wrenching at times and truly satisfying at the end. A great read.
This is a very interesting Civil War novel, which, unlike most other novels of the genre which tend to focus on the battlefronts, sheds light on the diplomatic side of the war, vis-a-vis Great Britain and the U.S.

The author fleshes out with the skill of a Seurat pointillist, the real-life characters Charles Francis Adams, Sr. (son of John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the U.S., and grandson of one of the nation's Founding Fathers, John Adams), whom Lincoln appointed shortly before war brok
I enjoyed Elizabeth Hoffman's characters in this novel. It is obvious that the author has a sure grasp on the history of this period. The specific details that are covered in this fictional version of events are compelling. I find the period of the civil war interesting and thought the premise of this book was compelling. Unfortunately the history itself didn't come to life for me.

Some of the dialog seemed less than authentic and the characters could have benefited from greater development, I th
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you like your history accurate and light? Do you like wit dressed up in sentences that are elegant and clear? Then Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman’s In the Lion’s Den is the historical romance for you. The setting is the Civil War when English sentiment is wobbling precariously between supporting the Confederacy or the Union, and it is the job of Charles Francis Adams of the famed Adams family, with the help of his young son, Henry, to make sure the Court of St. James does not come down on the Southe ...more
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 helpi ...more
The early years of the Civil War are brought to life in Broken Promises. Charles Francis Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, was sent by President Lincoln to England. Once there he assumed the role of head of the American legation. His primary duty was to assess the extent of England’s support of the Confederate cause. Warships and supplies were being sent past the Union’s blockades. Adams’ pivotal role in this assignment played a key part in avoiding a disastrous conclusion to the Civil War. Eliza ...more
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Broken Promises was a wonderful story. From the first page until the last line, I didn't want to put the book down. Elizabeth Hoffman is brilliant and her style of writing grabs the reader and won't let go. Baxter and Julia are star crossed lovers that you can't help but fall in love with. The book was amazing, a must read.
Christina Jones
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As we gear up for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War this year, I am seeing a plethora of novels being offered through book clubs, discount bookstores, and the like. Now all we have to do is sort through them. Broken Promises tells the story of Great Britain's betrayal to the United States from the perspective of Charles Francis Adams, son of President John Quincy Adams, who was appointed to represent US interests in England during this period. Though the British spoke in favor of the emancip ...more
Leon Nower
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like a fast-moving story where every line feeds the next and points it towards an inevitable yet surprising ending, read this book. If you enjoy a bosom-heaving historical romance, read this book. And if you’re mainly a history buff, read this book. In “In the Lion’s Den,” Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman braids these three genres so skillfully than there is no way to tell where one ends and another begins. One could say that the Civil War serves as the background of the novel, yet with equal just ...more
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It's March 1861, and Charles Francis Adams is sent on a mission to London by a less-than-confident President Lincoln. Adams, conscious of his family's stature and historical responsibilities (his father and grandfather both served as President) must convince the English not to recognize the Confederacy or to supply warships to the South.

Meanwhile, Adams' son Henry accompanies his father and reunites with his Southerner friend Baxter Sams, who is attending the Royal College of Surgeons. When Hen

Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman's In the Lion's Den has been re-issued with a new title and a new cover which better highlights the romantic sub plot that anchors the story. The newly christened Broken Promises does offer a new take on the civil war by setting most of it in England and through the perspective of Charles Adams (grandson of John and son of John Quincy). This perspective allows Hoffman to concentrate on the international politics of the period and the feat accomplished in keeping England o ...more
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Francis Adams, son and grandson of Presidents, is the American Minister to Great Britain during the Civil War. Together with his son Henry, he is trying to keep the U.S. and Britain from going to war with one another while simultaneously trying to prevent the British government from recognizing the Confederacy. Hoffman introduces us to all of the political shenanigans going on in London as Victoria goes into mourning for her beloved prince, Prime Minister Palmerston tries to encourage th ...more
Heather Sellers
As another reviewer said previously, I would have given this book 3.5 stars if it were possible.

I received this book through a First Reads contest and I am so glad that I did! I love historical fiction, but generally stay in the Tudor England time period. This book has thoroughly sparked an interest in Civil War era fiction.

I enjoyed the inside view of what it must have been like to be an American in England during this time. I found myself surprised at the complete disdain that most of the En
Sarah Beth
I'd probably give this book I won as a first reads giveaway three and a half stars if I could. This novel is about Charles Francis Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, who is sent to serve as a diplomat in London during the Civil War. Charles Adams' son, who accompanies his father to London, meets up with his old UVA buddy Baxter Sams. The two are now on opposing sides of the war. Baxter, a physician in training, falls for the British Julia Birch, although their relationship is complicated by the wa ...more
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy historical fiction, and I especially like romances set in regency or England time frame. This book is set during the civil war time frame but from the perspective of the Adams family in England. Although it was good to learn the background and efforts that the Adams family contributed to the war, I really enjoyed the back story of the ficticious characters of Julia & Baxter. I haven't read very many civil war book but I really enjoyed this one. It wasn't too much about the bat ...more
I have a love hate relationship with historical fiction. I've read so many good biographies that it is hard for me to get past the made-up dialogue in these books. I enjoyed the story in that I was unfamiliar with the relations between England and the confederacy in during the civil war. After reading this, i want to go and read some of the underlying source material. The dialogue did not engage me however, and I'm not sure I needed a fake romance thrown into the mix of a generally gripping stor ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This book was a very interesting look into the times of the Civil War & what was going on in other countries other than America at that time. It gave an interesting picture into the political decisions of President Lincoln & the story was sweet & unpredictable.
I recieved this book as a first reads give away!
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I really love history!!! Some of my favorite books are historical fiction and I have not read any recently so I was really excited to win this one. The civil war is one of my personal interests. I really enjoyed the different look on things with this story. If you like history I would recommend this book.
Mar 15, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I just won as a goodreads giveaway! waiting to read it. Thanks.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshare
This is a fictional account, albeit a well-researched one, of the American envoy to Great Britain during the civil war. Although the Brits talked of neutrality, the reality is that British shipbuilders were actively engaged in building vessels of war that would ultimately fight against the Union. It was up to Charles Francis Adams, accompanied by his wife and three of his children, to find diplomatic ways to keep England from formally recognizing the Confederacy. Your heart and sympathies are wi ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I completely loved Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman’s Broken Promises. The cover, like the book, radiates sophistication and English reserve. I liked Julia from the very beginning, and although I wasn’t sure I’d like Charles Adams I very much enjoyed reading about him and his family. All the characters were extremely likable, and I felt a strong connection to everyone of them. Julia’s romance with Baxter was forbidden by society and judgmental parents, difficult in the way that the couple had to ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fic
I really enjoyed this, especially the glimpses of life in the Adams household and what it must have been like trying to influence Great Britain to stay out of the Civil War. The storyline with Julia Birch and Baxter Sams was interesting too, even if it seemed a little far fetched (eh, I just went with it). I was, however, bothered by the profanity during the prison scenes. I'm sure that WAS realistic but absolutely grated on my nerves. If you prefer your novels clean then you are forewarned. ...more
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book, a real page-turner of intrigue and love set during the Civil War. This isn't the Civil War as you've seen it before: this is the drawing rooms of London, the ships of blockade-runners, and a reluctant Confederate who has fallen in love with a noblewoman's daughter.

At the center of this story is the son of John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, who is sent by Lincoln to be Washington's official delegation to Great Britain. Adams and his family struggle to hold up
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is a historical fiction novel, war time yet, that actually uses non-fictional characters in excellent historical fiction context and without one iota of revisionist interpreting. Charles Adams, the minister from the USA to Great Britain, is real. As is his son Henry, his wife, Lord Russell, Dudley, and numerous other players that were pivotal in the mix. And the woman are completely of their time and speak for themselves. It's the Civil War years from Europe's "eyes". And the complex allian ...more
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was interesting but by no means a page turner. I was fasinated by the sections that were about the history of American British relations during the Civil war and the politics involved in keeping England from allying with the Confederacy. However, the love story that was the back drop did not serve to help tell the story but detracted from it. The heroine was not believable nor was she historically realistic. An okay book but did not live up to the potential that was shown in moments of ...more
Kathleen Brunnett
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although a few people said it started slow, I didn't feel that way.
I think you need to have a base knowledge of the Civil War to enjoy this book. With the book mainly taking place in England, the reader is connected to the war by reports only. I was fascinated by England's interpretation of our Civil War and how many hoped our country would implode from it.

If you are looking for a battlefield type of Civil War read, this is not for you. If you like the history aspect, then I recommend it.
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This is a book I got for free through Goodreads First Reads. It's about the role England played in building warships for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and how Charles Francis Adams, son of John Quincy Adams, was Abraham Lincoln's ambassador to the Court of St. James in London. There was also a tale of romance mixed in. Broken Promises was a great book, and I would recommend it to any fan of historical fiction.
Courtney LeBlanc
I'm a fan of historical fiction and this one is set during the US Civil War, except the majority of the story takes place in London, adding an unusual look at the war from the British perspective. The Adams' story is true but the romantic relationship detailed in the book is fiction. That said, both are woven together wonderfully making for a great read. If you're a fan of historical fiction you'll enjoy this book!
Naomi Blackburn
To be totally honest with the reader of this review, I was fascinated by the background history of this story. The writing style of the author, not so much. The book did give me enough interest to further review non-fiction work of this topic. The writing of this book was just off to me and I can't quite figure out why....
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