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

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An Uncommon Protector, by Shelley Shepard Gray

Publisher’s Overview:

Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

First Thoughts:

This is the second of the Lone Star Hero Love Stories series by Shelley Shepard Gray. Since I didn’t immediately recognize Thomas Baker’s name, I wondered if any of the characters from The Loyal Heart would feature in it.

My Take:

Laurel Tracey is in a bind. She’s inherited her father’s ranch, but there’s no one to assist her other than her obnoxious step-siblings. They’ve long squandered their own inheritance and now want what doesn’t legally belong to them. Her persistent neighbor doesn’t believe she can manage the land, but hasn’t taken well her rejection of his courtship. So, she takes a leap of faith and hires Thomas who is determined to discover who’s threatening her. And he happens to have friends who can help.

An Uncommon Protector takes place shortly after the events in The Loyal Heart, the first book in the Lone Star Hero Love Stories series. As with that book, this novel opens with a scene on Johnson’s Island during the Civil War. There are also frequent flashbacks to Thomas’s time at the POW camp. I found it an easy read and worked out the villain’s identity almost immediately, although I did have a backup suspect in case I was wrong! Although the heroes ride away in the sunset at the end, there are hints of possible stories to come in the series and it looks like we only have to wait until October to learn what those stories are.

Thank you to Zondervan, BookLook Bloggers, and the Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of An Uncommon Protector, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read An Uncommon Protector? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Zondervan (A division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 07 February 2017

Page Count: 320

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

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Fates and Traitors, by Jennifer Chiaverini

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

John Wilkes Booth, the mercurial son of an acclaimed British stage actor and a Covent Garden flower girl, committed one of the most notorious acts in American history—the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

 The subject of more than a century of scholarship, speculation, and even obsession, Booth is often portrayed as a shadowy figure, a violent loner whose single murderous act made him the most hated man in America. Lost to history until now is the story of the four women whom he loved and who loved him in return: Mary Ann, the steadfast matriarch of the Booth family; Asia, his loyal sister and confidante; Lucy Lambert Hale, the senator’s daughter who adored Booth yet tragically misunderstood the intensity of his wrath; and Mary Surratt, the Confederate widow entrusted with the secrets of his vengeful plot.

 Fates and Traitors brings to life pivotal actors—some willing, others unwitting—who made an indelible mark on the history of our nation. Chiaverini portrays not just a soul in turmoil but a country at the precipice of immense change.

My Take:

There have been many books written about the events surrounding Lincoln’s assassination over the years, but have there been many novels that focused on the women in the life of the assassin? Jennifer Chiaverini continues her unofficial series about Civil War era characters with an excellently researched look at four very different women who knew John Wilkes Booth and how his actions impacted their lives.

Fates and Traitors is divided into six extremely long chapters, which each start with a Shakespearian quote. There’s a relatively short prologue set at the Garrett farm when Booth dies, and then the book goes back in time to when his parents met in London. The first two chapters read more like biographies than fiction. There’s so much information about the Booth family history that portions are left out, while what’s included isn’t written about in great detail. While I enjoy reading biographies, these chapters felt dull and monotonous. They did, however, make me feel strangely sympathetic towards Booth and his mother while his father was portrayed as a philandering drunkard. They also show how Booth possibly came to be the infamous killer we know. The next two chapters – about Mary Surratt and Lucy Hale – read more like a novel and I preferred those.

The title of the book, Fates and Traitors, comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which is highlighted in a conversation between Booth and his sister. Was Brutus a patriot or a traitor for his part in Julius Caesar’s assassination? Asia is horrified by her brother’s interpretation of the role, as he suggests that one person’s traitor can be another man’s patriot and that George Washington was probably considered to be a traitor by George III. This exchange also hints as to how Booth could have seen his killing of Lincoln a patriotic duty.

Those with interest in the Lincoln assassination will find no new information here. We know the fates of the main players and Chiaverini cites various sources, including some written by those included in the story or by their descendants. The angle here is that it’s a book about the women in Booth’s life, rather than focusing only on the man. Chiaverini has created realistic representations of these historic ladies; human enough that the reader can get to know them and form opinions accordingly. I experienced such a dislike of Mary Surratt early on in her narrative that I was indifferent to her ultimate fate. On the other hand, I felt bad for the Booth family after the assassination: the reputation their father had created was ruined and the equally famous brothers – Edwin and Junius – were briefly imprisoned under suspicion of conspiracy.

Thank you to Dutton for my complimentary electronic advance uncorrected proof of Fates and Traitors, which I downloaded from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Fates and Traitors? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Publisher: Dutton (an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Publication Date: 13 September 2016

Page Count: 400

Read more on:   Jennifer Chiaverini’s Website   Dutton’s Website

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