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HISTORICAL ROMANCE. In 1863, amid the turmoil of the Civil War, the ladies of the aristocratic Middleford family flee war-torn Charleston to take refuge in their summer home in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Here, in the secluded beauty and splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains, three sisters find their destinies in love. At the age of thirty, the eldest sister Harriott has long since put away any ideas of romance or marriage, but the possibility of both unexpectedly enter her life when she meets James Mitchell, a Confederate officer who comes to Flat Rock to convalesce from his wounds. The harsh reality of war intrudes when bushwhackers menace Flat Rock, forcing the Middleford sisters and their mother to seek safety elsewhere. They find refuge in the South Carolina upcountry for a while, but in the winter of 1865, a massive army led by General Sherman blazes a trail of destruction through the state that threatens to put an end to the happiness-and the very world-of the Middleford women and the men who love them. Author Karen Stokes is an archivist with the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston, S.C.. BELLES was inspired by South Carolinians' Civil War letters found in the SCHS archives.