Tag Archives: Civil War

Book Review: Among The Fair Magnolias

6 Aug

51mx7tavsmL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_In the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history, four Southern women—destinies forged by birth, hearts steeled by war—face near impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander

Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home. So when new owner, Aidan Bedford, a Boston attorney and former Union soldier, seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But the clock is ticking. Can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front. This time, one of the heart.

An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray

When Russell Champion returns to Broken Arrow, he’s determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother’s homestead, he discovers she’s very ill, and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love

Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser

Emily has a secret: She’s in love with one of the freedmen on her family’s plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.

 

FairMagnolias-320.pngTamera Alexander is the best-selling author of numerous books including A Lasting Impression and The Inheritance. Tamera is a two-time Christy Award winner, two-time RITA winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Library Journal Award.

A native of west Tennessee, Dorothy Love makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever. An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels.

Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list.

Elizabeth Musser, a native of Atlanta, Georgia now living in France, is a novelist who writes what she calls entertainment with a soul. For over 25 years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in mission work with International Teams.

Find out more about Alexander, Gray, Love, Musser at http://www.thomasnelson.com/among-the-fair-magnolias.

 

My Impressions:

Four talented historical romance authors come together to bring stories of hope and love set amidst the change and turmoil of the American South in the mid-1800s. Each novella-length offering in Among The Fair Magnolias is what you would expect from Dorothy Love, Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray and Elizabeth Musser — heart-filled stories featuring characters to cheer for. For fans of historical romance, it doesn’t get much better than this!

All four novellas are set in the American South either before or after the Civil War. Change comes swiftly, and the characters learn to reach for their dreams as they rebuild their lives. Settings include South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas and give the reader an insight into the challenges faced by those living in this era in our country’s history. Main characters scale obstacles in their lives as they reach out to their true loves. The authors tackle such issues as race relations and the mending of a splintered North and South. Strong faith messages run throughout, as the characters struggle with family duty, worthiness and purpose. I enjoyed all four of the stories and am glad that Thomas Nelson brought these authors together for this project.

Perfect for fans of historical romance, each standalone novella is a quick read, yet with a depth of characterization and plotting usually only found in full-length novels. A good bet for end of summer reading.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: Refuge on Crescent Hill

24 Oct

Jobless, homeless, and broke, Camden Bristow decides to visit the grandmother she hasn’t seen in years. But when Camden arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away, leaving her the 150-year-old mansion on Crescent Hill. The site of her happiest summers as a child, the run-down mansion is now her only refuge.

When Camden finds evidence that she may not be the mansion’s only occupant, memories of Grandma Rosalie’s bedtime stories about secret passageways and runaway slaves fuel her imagination. What really happened at Crescent Hill? Who can she turn to for answers in this town full of strangers? And what motivates the handsome local Alex Yates to offer his help? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden uncovers deep family secrets within the mansion’s walls that could change her life — and the entire town — forever.

Excerpt

Melanie Beroth Dobson‘s first novel (Together for Good) was published in 2006, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011. Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Since they’ve been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their home in the Pacific Northwest.

Prior to launching her own public relations company in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of both events and products. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master’s degree in communication from Regent University. She worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Jon and Melanie have two daughters — Karly (8) and Kiki (7). The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn’t writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

My Impressions:

History and mystery combine in Melanie Dobson’s novel, Refuge on Crescent Hill.  The house known as Crescent Hill has known its share of mysteries.  There are rumors of secret tunnels, ghosts and a lost treasure.    Its current owner has died and left it to her oldest granddaughter, Camden.  Camden has always felt a connection to the house.  It really is the only place she ever had any roots.   But now the mansion is in disrepair and she is without the resources to fix it up.  She joins forces with the city marketer/developer, Alex Yates, as they try to work out a plan to save the house from being torn down by the city.  Others with less altruistic motivations are interested in the house as well, or really the treasure the house may hold.

Refuge on Crescent Hill started out a bit slow for me.  There were lots of story threads that seemed unconnected.  But as the reader is let in on more and more of the secrets, the novel picks up pace.  I enjoyed how the personal aspects of the Civil War, including the Underground Railroad, were incorporated in the story. Not to give too much away — pay attention to the quilts — their history is fascinating.  I did think the ending a bit abrupt, but all in all it was a good read, full of puzzles and hints and questions a good mystery contains.

Recommended.

Beginning October 31, Refuge on Crescent Hill will be FREE for Kindle.  Click HERE to get your copy.
(I received Refuge on Crescent Hill from Kregel Publications in return for a review.   The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: The One Who Waits For Me

12 Aug

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The One Who Waits for Me

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books’ Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This new series from bestselling author Lori Copeland, set in North Carolina three months after the Civil War ends, illuminates the gift of hope even in chaos, as the lives of six engaging characters intersect and unfold with the possibility of faith, love, and God’s promise of a future.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736930183

ISBN-13: 978-0736930185

My Impressions:

The One Who Waits For Me is ideal for those who like an historical setting for their romances.  Set in the months following the Civil War, the story involves three women on the run and three men returning from war.  They face a number of obstacles to their romances — danger, betrayal, differing backgrounds, and distrust.  The main emphasis of this first in a new series is on the relationship of Beth, a determined woman who cannot abide men, and Pierce, the son of a southern planter who fought for the north.  Through a number of twists and turns, they come to fall in love.  The book ends with a number of loose ends that should be taken care of in the next books in the series.  One interesting note: there is a good deal of information on the Cherokee indians of the time.


AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Joanie?”Beth’s sister stirred, coughing.Beth gently shook Joanie’s shoulder again, and the young woman opened her eyes, confusion shining in their depths.“Pa?”“He passed a few minutes ago. Trella will be waiting for us.”Joanie lifted her wrist to her mouth and smothered sudden sobbing. “I’m scared, Beth.”“So am I. Dress quickly.”

The young woman slid out of bed, her bare feet touching the dirt-packed floor. Outside, the familiar sound of pond frogs nearly drowned out soft movements, though there was no need to be silent any more. Ma had preceded Pa in death two days ago. Beth and Joanie had been waiting, praying for the hour of Pa’s death to come swiftly. Together, they lifted their father’s silent form and gently carried him out the front door. He was a slight man, easy to carry. Beth’s heart broke as they took him to the shallow grave they had dug the day before. Ma’s fever had taken her swiftly. Pa had held on for as long as he could. Beth could still hear his voice in her ear: “Take care of your sister, little Beth.” He didn’t have to remind her that there was no protection at all now to save either of them from Uncle Walt and his son, Bear. Beth had known all of her life that one day she and Joanie would have to escape this place—a place of misery.

It was her father’s stubborn act that started the situation Beth and Joanie were immersed in. Pa had hid the plantation deed from his brother and refused to tell him where it was. Their land had belonged to a Jornigan for two hundred years, but Walt claimed that because he was the older brother and allowed Pa to live on his land the deed belonged to him. Pa was a proud man and had no respect for his brother, though his family depended on Walt for a roof over their heads and food on their table. For meager wages they worked Walt’s fields, picked his cotton, and suffered his tyranny along with the other workers. Pa took the location of the hidden deed to his grave—almost. Walt probably figured Beth knew where it was because Pa always favored her. And she did, but she would die before she shared the location with her vile uncle.

By the light of the waning moon the women made short work of placing the corpse in the grave and then filling the hole with dirt. Finished, they stood back and Joanie bowed her head in prayer. “Dear Father, thank You for taking Ma and Pa away from this world. I know they’re with You now, and I promise we won’t cry.” Hot tears streaming down both women’s cheeks belied her words.

Returning to the shanty, Joanie removed her nightshirt and put on boy’s clothes. Dressed in similar denim trousers and a dark shirt, Beth turned and picked up the oil lamp and poured the liquid carefully around the one-room shanty. Yesterday she had packed Ma’s best dishes and quilts and dragged them to the root cellar. It was useless effort. She would never be back here, but she couldn’t bear the thought of fire consuming Ma’s few pretty things. She glanced over her shoulder when the stench of fuel heightened Joanie’s cough. The struggle to breathe had been a constant companion since her younger sister’s birth.

Many nights Beth lay tense and fearful, certain that come light Joanie would be gone. Now that Ma and Pa were dead, Joanie was the one thing left on this earth that held meaning for Beth. She put down the lamp on the table. Walking over to Joanie, she buttoned the last button on her sister’s shirt and tugged her hat brim lower.

“Do you have everything?”

“Yes.”

“Then go outside and wait.”

Nodding, Joanie paused briefly beside the bed where Pa’s tall frame had been earlier. She hesitantly reached out and touched the empty spot. “May you rest in peace, Pa.”

Moonlight shone through the one glass pane facing the south. Beth shook her head. “He was a good man. It’s hard to believe Uncle Walt had the same mother and father.”

Joanie’s breath caught. “Pa was so good and Walt is so…evil.”

“If it were up to me, he would be lying in that grave outside the window, not Pa.”

Beth tried to recall one single time in her life when Walt Jornigan had ever shown an ounce of mercy to anyone. Certainly not to his wife when she was alive. Certainly not to Beth or Joanie. If Joanie was right and there was a God, what would Walt say when he faced Him? She shook the thought aside. She had no compassion for the man or reverence for the God her sister believed in and worshipped.

“We have to go now, Joanie.”

“Yes.” She picked up her Bible from the little table beside the rocking chair and then followed Beth outside the shanty, her breath coming in ragged gasps. Pausing, Joanie bent and succumbed to a coughing spasm. Beth helplessly waited, hoping her sister could make the anticipated trip through the cotton fields. The women had planned for days now to escape if Ma and Pa both passed.

Beth asked gently, “Can you do this?”

Joanie held up a restraining hand. “Just need…a minute.”

Beth wasn’t certain that they could wait long; time was short. Dawn would be breaking soon, and then Walt would discover that Pa had died and the sisters were missing. But they had to leave. Joanie’s asthma was getting worse. Each gasping breath left her drained and hopeless, and Walt refused to let her see a doctor.

When Joanie had mentioned the notice in a discarded Savannah newspaper advertising a piece of land, Beth knew she had to buy the property and provide a home for Joanie. Pa had allowed her and Joanie to keep the wage Uncle Walt paid monthly. Over the years they had saved enough to survive, and the owner was practically giving the small acreage away. They wouldn’t be able to build a permanent structure on their land until she found work, but she and Joanie would own their own place where no one could control them. Beth planned to eventually buy a cow and a few setting hens. At first they could live in a tent—Beth’s eyes roamed the small shanty. It would be better than how they lived now.

Joanie’s spasm passed and she glanced up. “Okay. You…can do it now.”

Beth struck a match.

She glanced at Joanie. The young woman nodded and clutched her Bible to her chest. Beth had found it in one of the cotton picker’s beds after he had moved on and given it to Joanie. Her sister had kept the Bible hidden from sight for fear that Walt would spot it on one of his weekly visits. Beth had known, as Joanie had, that if their uncle had found it he’d have had extra reason to hand out his daily lashing. Joanie kept the deed to their new land between its pages.

After pitching the lighted match into the cabin, Beth quickly closed the heavy door. Stepping to the window, she watched the puddles of kerosene ignite one by one. In just minutes flames were licking the walls and gobbling up the dry tinder. A peculiar sense of relief came over her when she saw tendrils of fire racing through the room, latching onto the front curtain and encompassing the bed.

“Don’t watch.” Joanie slipped her hand into Beth’s. “We have to hurry before Uncle Walt spots the flames.”

Hand in hand, the sisters stepped off the porch, and Beth turned to the mounds of fresh dirt heaped not far from the shanty. Pausing before the fresh graves, she whispered. “I love you both. Rest in peace.”

Joanie had her own goodbyes for their mother. “We don’t want to leave you and Pa here alone, but I know you understand—”

As the flames licked higher, Beth said, “We have to go, Joanie. Don’t look back.”

“I won’t.” Her small hand quivered inside Beth’s. “God has something better for us.”

Beth didn’t answer. She didn’t know whether Ma and Pa were in a good place or not. She didn’t know anything about such things. She just knew they had to run.

The two women dressed in men’s clothing struck off across the cotton fields carrying everything they owned in a small bag. It wasn’t much. A dress for each, clean underclothes, and their nightshirts. Beth had a hairbrush one of the pickers had left behind. She’d kept the treasure well hidden so Walt wouldn’t see it. He’d have taken it from her. He didn’t hold with primping—said combing tangles from one’s hair was a vain act. Finger-picking river-washed hair was all a woman needed.

Fire now raced inside the cabin. By the time Uncle Walt noticed the smoke from the plantation house across the fields, the two sisters would be long gone. No longer would they be under the tyrannical thumb of Walt or Bear Jornigan.

Freedom.

Beth sniffed the night air, thinking she could smell the precious state. Never again would she or Joanie answer to any man. She would run hard and far and find help for Joanie so that she could finally breathe free. In her pocket she fingered the remaining bills she’d taken from the fruit jar in the cabinet. It was all the ready cash Pa and Ma had. They wouldn’t be needing money where they were.

Suddenly there was a sound of a large explosion. Heavy black smoke blanketed the night air. Then another blast.

Kerosene! She’d forgotten the small barrel sitting just outside the back porch.

It was the last sound Beth heard.