Welcome to the fourth month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focuses on the Civil War (and post-Civil War). At the request of one of my readers, I’m posting suggestions from my bookshelf at the beginning of each month. This month’s suggestions feature some books from my e-book shelves, as well as a section of books suggested to me by others. I’ve read a good number of these, but some are still waiting for free time. Add your suggestions in the comments, and/or tell me what you are reading. Have you read any of these below? Which one should I choose for this month? Let me know.
Also, if a title is linked, it goes to a review I’ve written on that book. Just in case you are interested in learning more.
*If you read a book for March, don’t forget to go to yesterday’s post (RCR: Trail of Fear) to comment and get your name entered for your chance to win a print copy. (You’ll also earn your entry for the end of the year giveaway.)
(Honest confession: I love these posts because it almost feels like I’m browsing a book store with lots more CHR selections than brick and mortar stores and easier to find what I look than a general online store… and it makes me realize how many books I own that I still need to read.)
From My Shelf
The crusading daughter of a Washington politician, Marietta Hamilton comes between twin brothers as the country plunges toward Civil War. Horse traders from Virginia, Ethan Sharpe and his brother Devon would defend their livelihood from her interfering kind. When love ignites, friends become enemies separated over the course of a long and brutal conflict. Can the very influences which carved a chasm unite a torn family against all odds?
Other titles in the series: The Chaplain’s Daughter, No Man’s Daughter
An Accidental Spy by Stephenia H. McGee (Previously Titled: Leveraging Lincoln, Read and Reviewed)
Captured and mistaken as a spy, can she unravel a conspiracy before her secrets cost a man his life?
Some secrets change the world…
Once a privileged heiress, Annabelle Ross is now struggling to hold her home and her life together through the devastation of the War Between the States. But with a forced marriage and a desolate future on the horizon, her hopes are beginning to dwindle. When she discovers an encrypted note on a dying soldier, she seizes the opportunity to use it to deliver a message of her own. Instead, she’s mistaken for a spy and captured. Now her only chance to escape is the handsome soldier in charge of discovering her secrets.
After his brother is captured by enemy soldiers, Matthew Daniels vows to rescue him at any cost. When a secret society offers him a chance for retribution, Matthew must decide between his loyalties and his convictions. To prove himself, he’ll have to first unmask the spirited spy holding the key to their plans or risk losing his brother forever.
This is book one of a trilogy. Each book has a complete storyline but you need to read all through to get the whole, overarching story. Other titles are: A Dangerous Performance, A Daring Pursuit
Caroline Fletcher is caught in a nation split apart and torn between the ones she loves and a truth she can’t deny
The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised to believe slavery is God-ordained and acceptable. But on awakening to its cruelty and injustice, her eyes are opened to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. At the same time, her father and her fiance, Charles St. John, are fighting for the Confederacy and their beloved way of life and traditions.
Where does Caroline’s loyalty lie? Emboldened by her passion to make a difference and her growing faith, will she risk everything she holds dear?
Other titles in the series: Fire by Night, A Light to My Path
1865—Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy, but the family legacy of espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unknown to her, the Knights of the Golden Circle—a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union her brother died for—has been meeting in a hidden lair beneath her home. Faced with the secrets of her late husband and his brother, whom she thought she could trust with anything, Marietta’s world tilts out of control. Can she right it by protecting a Union agent infiltrating the KGC?
Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn’t just their inner workings that baffle him—it’s the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet…so much more.
Do they dare trust each other in this circle of intrigue? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Slade stymie the enemy long enough to see their beloved country reunited?
Book 3 in The Culper Ring Series. Each takes place in a different time period.
Will the Wounded Soldier She Rescues From Certain Death be Able to Break Down the Walls of Bitterness That Surround Her Heart?
Seeking to fulfill the promise she made to her dying father, eighteen-year-old Jesselynn Highwood determines to take her little brother and the family’s remaining Thoroughbreds from Twin Oaks plantation in Kentucky to her uncle’s farm in Missouri, where they will be safe for the remainder of the Civil War.
Jesselynn is also fleeing a cruel man in Confederate uniform who has pledged to take revenge against her for refusing his hand in marriage. No longer safe at Twin Oaks, she embarks on a perilous journey, taking on the momentous responsibility for the lives and welfare of all who go with her.
They ride at night and hide during the day, dodging both Confederate and Union troops along the way. Encountering hunger, sickness, and the devastation of war, they finally arrive in Missouri only to discover that the situation there puts them in even greater danger. Discouraged, disillusioned, and facing a severe testing of her faith, Jesselynn will stop at nothing to save her family, the horses, and whatever remains of Twin Oaks.
Quentin Larribee is a surgeon–one of the best. But in the confusion of one of the Civil War’s last, desperate skirmishes, the hands devoted to healing bring death to William Breckenridge, an enemy soldier in the act of surrendering. Now the deed haunts Quentin.A bright future lies before him, with marriage to the lovely Irene Chambers and eventual ownership of her father’s prosperous medical practice. But it cannot ease Quentin’s troubled conscience. Honor compels him to see to the welfare of the dead man’s family.Quentin moves from New York City to the little town of Helena, Arkansas, where he attempts to save the wife of Breckenridge and her children from financial ruin. But in trying to solve one problem, he creates another, falling in love with the widow of the man he killed–a woman who knows nothing of his terrible secret.Two women beckon Quentin–one to a life where his gift as a healer can prosper beyond his wildest dreams, the other to a truer but impossible love.Edge of Honor is an unforgettable novel of redemption and honor, where good is found in the unlikeliest places and God’s unseen hand weaves a masterful tapestry of human hearts and lives.
Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines—until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.
Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.
Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.
It isn’t until the Civil War comes to her doorstep that Amanda Bell must choose between love and family.
It’s the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amanda never thought she would marry because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.
When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel aligns with the Confederate States, while Kent remains with the Union troops.
Her heart is torn between the two men she is closest to and the two sides of the conflict. Amanda prays to God for direction and support, but hears only silence. Where is God in the atrocities of war—and whose side is He on?
Amanda senses her life is at a turning point. She must trust God to deliver her family through the chaos of war with her heart and her faith intact.
To create something that will last is Claire Laurent’s most fervent desire as an artist. It’s also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire’s path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she’s sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville’s elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.
All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He’s determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.
Set at Nashville’s historic 1850s Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera’s stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers’ hearts and leave them eager for more.
Other titles in the series: A Beauty So Rare, A Note Yet Unsung
With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to Society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earns him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect he craves.
After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?
Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn’t expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.
Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.
After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda’s home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip’s name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.
Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He’s mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn’t prove to be an easy task—Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.
Other titles in the series: An Uncommon Protector, Love Held Captive
Can Love Form Amidst Tensions of War?
During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.
Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as “The Battle Above the Clouds.” Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.
But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam’s friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It’s not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie’s father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.
When Adam’s condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. But how can she save him and keep her family safe from Yankee forces?
Other titles in the series: A Rebel in My House, A Musket in My Hands
Forced to call each other enemies, can their love survive?
Maggie Gatlan may be a Southern belle on the outside, but inside she’s a rebel. Then she meets the handsome, strong Irish immigrant Ben McConnell who captures her heart.
Ben is enchanted by Maggie’s beauty and fiery spirit, but for him the South she so dearly loves represents the injustice and deprivation he left behind in Ireland.
As the country divides and Ben joins the Union, Maggie and Ben are forced to call each other enemies. Will their love survive or die on the battlefield of South against North?
From Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley, authors of The Silent Gift and creators of the hit television film Love Comes Softly, comes an exciting historical romance set in post-Civil War, and filled with suspense and faith-building values. At the war’s end, a young woman suffers an accident that leaves her unconscious and alone. Waking with amnesia, she takes the name Mercy and wants more than anything to find out the truth of her past. But then a handsome stranger arrives, who may hold the key to everything she has forgotten. What he knows could devastate her future, and even end her life. Written by two proven storytellers, Traces of Mercy is perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction, prairie-based tales, or just a good romance.
Tried & True by Mary Connealy (Slightly after the Civil War but still connected. Probably my favorite series from Mary.)
Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!
Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister–and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk–they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”–but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.
Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?
Other titles in the series: Now and Forever, Fire and Ice
Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she’s discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.
Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.
Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?
Books Recommended to Me:
With her stammering tongue and quiet ways, Cadence Piper has always struggled to be accepted. After the death of her mother, Cadence sets her heart on becoming a nurse, both to erase the stain her brother has left on the family’s honor and to find long-sought approval in the eyes of her father. When Dorothea Dix turns her away due to her young age and pretty face, Cadence finds another way to serve . . . singing to the soldiers in Judiciary Square Hospital. Only one stubborn doctor stands in her way.
Joshua Ivy is an intense man with a compassionate heart for the hurting and downtrodden. The one thing he can’t have is an idealistic woman destroying the plans he’s so carefully laid. When the chaos of war thrusts Cadence into the middle of his clandestine activities, he must decide if the lives at stake, and his own heart, are worth the risk of letting Cadence inside.
Everything changes when Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night?
She pretends to be a Yankee officer’s widow in order to survive. But what will she do when he returns home to a wife he didn’t marry?
Ella Whitaker rescues a newborn from the dying arms of a woman of ill repute and at long last she has someone to love. In need of a wet nurse, she arrives at Belmont Plantation just as Federal soldiers demand to speak to the owner. Thinking quickly, Ella masquerades as a Yankee officer’s widow in order to have a roof over her head and a home for the child. But now she must work even harder to hide her Scottish immigrant roots and play the part of a refined Southern lady or risk losing her only hope to keep her new son.
Union Major Westley Remington has dedicated his life to serving his country. The Civil War divided his family, tore his thoughts of glory, and left him with a wound that may never heal. Westley returns home to settle his father’s estate at Belmont Plantation, only to find his house is being run by a fiery and independent woman—one many believe to be his wife. Now he is faced with a conflict he’s never been trained to fight, and one she has yet to conquer.
A reconstruction ear romance with a fiesty herione and a love to overcome the odds.
Other titles in the series: Eternity Between Us
In a time where unity seems impossible, two women will forge a friendship in the fires of redemption and thrust Ironwood into a new future—where the battle for freedom has merely begun.
Mississippi – 1862
Stolen from her home and forced into the disgrace of being sold, Ruth refuses to let go of the faith that holds her heart together. Determined to survive in her new role at Ironwood, Ruth never expects to find any common ground with the plantation owner’s wife. But when God keeps nudging her to speak up for her race and forge an unlikely friendship, she makes a dangerous choice that could cost more than she’s ready to give.
Bride to a man she barely knows and bound by her secrets, Lydia is struggling to step into her new title as the mistress of Ironwood. Inspired by the fiery spirit and quiet dignity of an enslaved woman, Lydia’s eyes begin to open to the harsh realities of the world around her. But if there is ever going to be a new future for Ironwood, she will have to start with shedding her own pretenses.
Other titles in the series: Heir of Hope, Missing Mercy
Theater manager Matthew Scott is abducted and conscripted into the Confederate army because of his Copperhead senator father’s political leanings. Injured at Malvern Hill, Matthew is taken by the Union army to Shirley Plantation in Virginia where he is tended by seamstress Angelina Rose, a beautiful woman who unbeknownst to him is a freed slave. Given an opportunity to leave the South and start a new life for herself, Angelina remained for the sake of her sister’s orphaned twins who are still enslaved. Matthew must use his acting skills to remain safe, not realizing Angelina is merely playing the role of being a member of the Carter family, owners of the plantation. Will Matthew’s return to Shirley Plantation settle a mystery concerning his father’s past? And will he and Angelina find the family they long for?
When Justin Young is reunited with his orphaned siblings during the American Civil War, he decides to bring his widowed sister and younger brothers to live with him in Chicago, desiring to give them a home and a family. But he soon discovers that sometimes love is more painful than it is healing as he faces his own inadequacies. Along their journey towards reconciliation with God and each other, the siblings and their friends learn that real love often looks like the hard work of granting grace and second chances to other hurting, imperfect people with whom they have nothing in common. In the end, they each find that when they come home to God, He gives them the courage, freedom and grace to come home to the people they’ve come to love. ~~~
As Irish American orphans raised in different circumstances in Kentucky, North Carolina and Maryland, the Young siblings could not be more different from each other, but they are determined that the ties of the same blood are strong enough to bring them together despite the secrets they each carry from their pasts. In this emotional story filled with humor and love, Yankee siblings come head to head with Confederate ones, Christian siblings with atheists, educated siblings with those raised on the street, and extroverted siblings with introverts. Set in the backdrop of Civil War Chicago, with its labor strikes and the Union prison camp at Camp Douglas, you will find characters you’ve come to love and won’t soon forget.
Other titles in the series: Until We All Run Free
Leave Your Comments:
If you have a favorite book or author who writes in this time, put it in the comments so other readers can know who to go search out for options. Old or new, it doesn’t matter. 🙂