Love Held Captive, by Shelley Shepard Gray

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.

Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.

When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.

First Thoughts:

I’ve read the previous two books about this group of Civil War veterans, so why not finish the series?

My Take:

The final installment of the Lone Star Heroes series begins somewhat confusingly. We’re told that the prologue is set at the Johnson’s Island POW camp in Ohio in 1865, but the events that unfold in it are clearly set in a different place and time. The reason for the discrepancy is eventually made clear, but not before I’d re-read a couple of pages thinking I’d missed something.

The focus of Love Held Captive is how the war changed people. Sometimes they changed for the better, but not always. The former prisoners have been altered by their time on the battlefield and in the prison camp; now they’re trying to find where they fit in this post-war America. When we think of war we tend to think mostly of the men who fought in them, but Lizbeth and Julianne’s brutal experiences remind us that people at home suffered as well. Parts of this book aren’t pretty and veer on the disturbing side as well. I didn’t like the proposed plan the men formed to deal with Bushnell, and I hoped there would be a change of heart before the end. I could understand why they thought they had to do what they did, but I couldn’t agree with it.

If the book had ended with the culmination of their plan I’d have to give low marks to Love Held Captive. Thankfully, the concluding pages redeem it. The actual end takes the reader back to 1865 and the end of the war. The men are questioning why they had to endure such nightmare experiences, much as many of us question why bad things happen. One of them realizes that they, like us, will have to rest in the knowledge that we’ll get all our answers in heaven.

Thank you to Zondervan for my complimentary electronic copy of Love Held Captive, which I downloaded for my honest review.

Have you read Love Held Captive? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 10 October 2017

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Zondervan’s Website   Shelley Shepard Gray’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

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Christmas at Carnton, by Tamera Alexander

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas—and sacrificial love.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year-old son. With the bank threatening to evict them, she discovers an advertisement for the Women’s Relief Society auction and applies for a position—only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity—and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women’s Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.

First Thoughts:

I was excited to receive this historical fiction selection from The Fiction Guild. I visited Franklin, the setting for this novella, several years ago but didn’t have the time to visit Carnton. While the city has plenty of modern development, there has been a recent effort to return some of it to the way it looked at the time of the Battle of Franklin.

My Take:

It’s November 1863, and the country is torn apart by war. The south is reeling from defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and Franklin, Tennessee, has recently been occupied by Federal troops. It’s been barely one month since Aletta learned of her husband’s death on a distant battlefield: work is hard to come by and the bank is getting impatient. She’s at the point of wishing the war would just end, regardless of the outcome, and she’s not alone in her thinking. The war has taken too much from everyone.

Christmas at Carnton is classified as a novella, but it read more as a novel. Alexander looks in depth at how the war impacted home life, from receiving word of a loved one’s death to holding fundraisers to boost morale. Little is said about the reasons for the war, although slavery looms large in the figure of Carnton’s cook, Tempy. Mostly, this is a look at war weary people doing the best they can and, occasionally, seeing others in different lights. The brightness comes in the form of a sweet and hesitant romance, and also Aletta’s son Andrew.

This is the prequel to a new series of novels set around Carnton Plantation. The first full length novel, With This Pledge, will be set in the aftermath of the Battle of Franklin in 1864. It’s scheduled for release in November 2018.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and The Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of Christmas at Carnton, which I received for my honest review.

Have you read Christmas at Carnton? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 03 October 2017

Page Count: 256

Read more on:   Thomas Nelson’s Website   Tamera Alexander’s Website   Battle of Franklin Trust

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Too Deep for Words, by Andrea Boeshaar

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Carrie Ann Collier has been a newlywed for nineteen blissful days–as blissful as life can be in the midst of war, that is. Soon that war will take a toll she never expected. When her new husband, Peyton, goes missing during battle, she refuses to believe he is dead and must find a way to move forward with everyday life in the face of fear.

As Carrie struggles with how to welcome her estranged sister, Margaret, back into her life, another new arrival appears on her doorstep–her husband’s best friend, and rebel officer, Eli. Wounded and bitter, Eli is nonetheless committed to keeping his promise to Peyton: take care of the Collier women, no matter what. But to Carrie, he’s a painful reminder of her lost love.

Then unexpected news makes Carrie wonder if miracles do happen. If Carrie infiltrates the enemy once again, she might find out what really happened to the love of her life. Will Eli be able to keep his promise to keep her safe? Can they forgive each other if promises are broken?

First Thoughts:

This is a continuation of the story begun in A Thousand Shall Fall. From the premise, however, I’m wondering if the romantic hearts of readers will be happy or broken by the end.

My Take:

Andrea Boeshaar takes readers back to the latter half of the Civil War in the second title of her Shenandoah Valley Saga. I have a mixed view of middle books as I’ve felt some of them have merely been filler. I’m happy to say this is not the case with Too Deep for Words. The story of the Bell and Collier families continues with a look at life on the southern home front. What was it like to have your city continually change hands, as happened to Winchester, Virginia? What could you do when a man in uniform informed you that your home was being requisitioned as a field hospital? What if you were quiet supporters of the Union?

While Carrie and Peyton are still the major characters in the series, much of this book focuses on Margaret, Carrie’s sister, and Eli, Peyton’s friend. I wasn’t a fan of Margaret at first, but she grew on me as she attempted to find her place in her new environment. Meanwhile, although it looked like Eli was trying to do the right thing, I was never entirely sure of his motives. Was he to be believed or not? I do know, though, that I couldn’t stand his domineering mother!

Too Deep for Words is not a book you can read on its own. It starts just a matter of days after the events of A Thousand Shall Fall, and often refers to events in that book. And it finishes on a maddening cliffhanger! Like me, once you’ve finished reading, you’ll be eager for the next book in the series. According to Andrea Boeshaar’s website, it has a title but it won’t be out until next year!

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of Too Deep for Words, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Too Deep for Words? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 27 April 2017

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Andrea Boeshaar’s Website   Kregel’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com