In the spring of 1780, Polly Cooper, a young patriot, decides to smuggle rifles to her brothers defending Charleston against the British siege. As she approaches the city, she is captured by 25-year-old Irish Colonel Lord Rawdon, who offers safe passage in exchange for three dances at the next ball to celebrate the British victory. So begins an improbable romance between rebel and redcoat as Charleston falls and Rawdon spends the next year trying to subdue the South Carolina backcountry. As the war continues to unfold, Polly finds herself struggling with social niceties and divided loyalties. As Rawdon wins a succession of battles, he begins to discover that victory in both love and war eludes him.
The Charleston Gambit paints a romantic yet realistic picture of the Revolutionary War in South Carolina. By addressing many pressing social issues such as slavery, plantation life, and gender dynamics through the lens of a wartime love story, the novel both informs and entertains its readers from beginning to end. Filled with historical detail recounting fashion trends, geographical references, the dangerous reality of battle, and the struggle with disease, The Charleston Gambit accurately captures the beauty, intensity, and heartbreak felt by the entire South Carolina Lowcountry.