Anna Lea Pepper is a feisty, independent, determined woman with a mind of her own. With war between the states looming on the horizon, she's even more determined to protect all that she holds dear: her land and family.

When her husband, James, goes off to fight with the Missouri State Guard in the War of Northern Aggression, she is left to tend to their farm at Dry Fork Creek and raise their two children, eleven-year-old Pearl and fourteen-year-old Philip.

One day, after Anna Lea and her children finish up their chores on the farm, Anna hears a sound that makes her heart freeze with an unfamiliar fear. Drums boom, and there's the sound of feet trampling the ground. Then she sees them coming down the hill in an endless stream of blue, some on horseback, others marching on foot to the constant rattle of fife and drums—Northern soldiers. Captain Allan Saunders of the Federal Army informs her that General Nathaniel Lyon and his troops will be camping at her home. It is the first of a series of events that will thrust her full-force into the violence and turmoil of war. Anna Lea builds walls of resentment around her heart that have to be torn down when she is forced to rely on help from unexpected sources: an Osage Indian family and the very same Federal captain who camped on the Pepper farm at the start of the war. Anna Lea soon learns life can sometimes be Bittersweet.

Author Linda Cushman and her husband, Gary, live in rural Polk County, Missouri, on the farm that is the setting for Bittersweet. She raises cattle and writes in her spare time

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