Shadows in the Mind’s Eye
by Janyre Tromp
This story is one of those that sticks with you for a while. It’s not for the faint of heart either, as it delves into PTSD, a soldier’s homecoming that is nothing like anyone wanted, and a corrupt town that infiltrates all aspects of life. There were times when Sam (the hero) wondered if he was losing his mind, overreacting, or really seeing something he needed to act upon, and boy do I identify with that one when it comes to caregiving. I also understood Annie’s struggle of not getting “the same husband” back that she sent off to war. They both had struggles that pushed them apart and together. Their commitment to each other and their struggles other were realistic. The voice of this story was masterfully created. You really felt like you were in the south with all the word choices and beautiful imagery.
I listened to the audiobook and just want to say that I really appreciated the change of female and male narrators depending on whose POV you were listening to. One thing that disappointed me in the audio is that part of the surprise ending was spoiled sooner than desired. To the careful listener, the narrator used the voice of the character who was supposed to be a mysterious voice. But none of that is the author’s fault. That’s just a review of the audio.
This story was fantastically done and would recommend it to anyone who likes real portrayals of family struggles, soldiers coming home from war, and those who generally just like to see real-life interwoven with an intriguing and engaging story.
Genre: Historial, 1945, Arkansas
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.
Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?
Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.
What I loved: The realistic struggle of not only Sam’s PTSD, but also the struggle of Annie as they navigated their marriage during a time when Sam wasn’t the same man she married.
Favorite Character and Why: Lots of people have been saying Dovie May, but honestly, Sam is my favorite. Maybe it’s because I can relate to him and his staunch decision to protect his family no matter what they think of him. I really love him and his fight to overcome his own personal mental challenges while being there for his family–even when he feels like a failure.
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Have you read it? What were your thoughts? If not, what about this story appeals to you?
It’s time for my April review of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the Civil War and Reconstruction Period. . . and I’ll be 100% honest. I didn’t get around to reading this month’s book! Between reading some unpublished books for critique partners, finishing edits, and trying to make progress on a 96,000 word rough draft, I just never made it.
By God’s blessing, one of the challenge participants in our Facebook HAD read the book and was willing to allow me to use her review for this month. I hope you weren’t like me and was able to get your book read. Don’t forget to comment on this post with what YOU read for the challenge. Would you recommend it? Details for the connected giveaway are below.
Without further ado, here is this month’s review of The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot.
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The Sentinels of Andersonville
by Tracy Groot
Today’s review is provided by Staci, who can be found on Instagram @genreadblog. THANK YOU, STACI FOR SAVING THIS MONTH’S POST FROM DISASTER!!!
This is a very well-done novel about Andersonville and the citizens of nearby Americus.
The main female character, Violet, demonstrates what it is like to be fervent for a cause with blinders on. It’s something easy to do. Watching her blinders be removed was one of the many bright spots. Violet didn’t become any less a Southern supporter but did become more human.
There was quite a bit of dry humor throughout which very much appealed to me. I also enjoyed the way characters spoke to each other in literary ways. Meanings had to be discerned rather than given freely. This is definitely a novel that could be read a second time with much more picked up with each read.
The entire novel was thought-provoking. What amount of care and concern should be shown to prisoners? There is a whole lot of gray between none and Four Seasons treatment. Finding one’s own answer to that may be more difficult than you’d first think.
This is my second Tracy Groot novel and I look forward to reading others. I recommend The Sentinels of Andersonville for those that enjoy historical fiction.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Civil War, Andersonville
Near the end of the Civil War, inhumane conditions at Andersonville Prison caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only one year. In this gripping and affecting novel, three young Confederates and an entire town come face-to-face with the prison’s atrocities and will learn the cost of compassion, when withheld and when given.
Sentry Dance Pickett has watched, helpless, for months as conditions in the camp worsen by the day. He knows any mercy will be seen as treason. Southern belle Violet Stiles cannot believe the good folk of Americus would knowingly condone such barbarism, despite the losses they’ve suffered. When her goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, however, she realizes she must tread carefully. Confederate corporal Emery Jones didn’t expect to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier’s wit and integrity strike a chord in Emery. How could this man be an enemy? Emery vows that their unlikely friendship will survive the war―little knowing what that promise will cost him.
As these three young Rebels cross paths, Emery leads Dance and Violet to a daring act that could hang them for treason. Wrestling with God’s harsh truth, they must decide, once and for all, Who is my neighbor?
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Unlocking the Past Giveaway
Comment with what you ready by May 7th, 11:59 pm to be entered to win a print copy of The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot. Open to all US and International residents, where allowed. 🙂 Fill out the Rafflecopter for extra entries.
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The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch
Fans of Regency and Marriage of Convenience stories will be delighted by this tale of a hero — who can’t remember the event that made him a hero — and a woman with her own secrets united by the Prince Regent’s wishes. I have been eyeing this book for months but other reading commitments kept it sitting on my TBR pile. I have finally settled into a routine of evening reading, and this book was my first pick.
Guys, I really enjoyed this one even more than I expected, and I had high expectations. I loved the mystery, the complex connections, and oh my goodness, the relationship development between Evan and Diana. They both had so much to learn in those early days, and Erica Vetsch handled it so well. This was the type of story that shows marriage as it can really be, not all rainbows and butterflies. Watching these two learn each other’s strengths and to play off of them was so heart-warming. I loved this story so much, I went ahead and bought the second book and read it as soon as it arrived in the mail. (So guess which one will come as my next review. Tee hee hee.)
I highly recommend this book to readers of the Regency era, marriages of convenience, and complex plots mixed with danger and intrigue.
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, 1813
He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?
Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.
Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.
What I loved: The relationship development between Evan and Diana is so fascinating. I love the push and pull to learn to trust each other with their darkest secrets. It was probably one of the best romances I have read to really depict those struggles realistically and in a way that also makes you fall in love with the characters.
Favorite Character and Why: I have to say I really loved Evan and Diana equally. In fact, they almost seem one character–just like any husband and wife are one in Christ–and it wasn’t because they seemed the character. They just belong together so well that I can’t separate them in my head as liking one more than the other.
Rating and Why: Five Stars. This is a story I will reread over and over. If it isn’t obvious yet, this is a story I will be gushing over for a while.
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Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green
This book was chosen for my online Christian Historical Romance Book Club, and I just finished listening to the audiobook this weekend. First, I highly recommend the audiobook as the narrator did a wonderful job changing voices to match the characters. As for the story, I enjoyed it as well, although perhaps not in the same manner as I would a light-hearted novel. This story was ripe with emotions, family drama, and a touch of romance. If you have a family member who is dealing with PTSD or dementia, it can be a hard read or an enlightening read. It just depends on where you are in your personal life. For me, I loved the depth of character development and a glimpse into the challenges others face in their lives. The details of living through the fire were so gripping it felt as if I were there experiencing it with the characters. The mystery entwined with the story was well done and complex. While the ending was happy, it didn’t pretend the life-long effects of PTSD go away. You left the family knowing they would continue to face challenges but face them together with fortitude and faith.
I recommend this story for anyone who enjoys deep characters, tough issues, family drama, and a romance that stands true.
Genre: Historical Romance, Chicago Fire, 1871
Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.
The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.
Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.
What I loved: I think my favorite part was experiencing the fire with the characters. It brought to light a historical event I’d read about in ways which I’d never considered. It helped me to better relate to friends who have had to evacuate due to wildfires. The details were just so real I’ll never view that tragedy the same way again.
Favorite Character and Why: Stephen was a complex character who I loved and sympathized with. The poor man had endured so much during the Civil War and Andersonville, and yet he was forced to continually face it through PTSD. His grow arch was complex, believable, and heart-wrenching. Parts of his thought patterns reminded me of a dearly loved one and helped me to understand them just a bit better.
Rating and Why: Four and a half stars. The story was heavy, in a good way, but also in a way I’m not sure I am likely able to read again. I would recommend it to everyone, but it was an emotionally hard read for me.
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Hi faithful readers!
I’m considering doing an every-other-month book club via my website and Facebook author page. Is this something you would be interested in?
I’ve always wanted to be part of a book club, but I’ve never had the joy of having local readers with similar tastes. I thought it would be great to get together with others who like reading Christian Historical Romance (like you!) and have our own online book club. I’m still trying to sort the idea out, but before I put too much effort into it, I wanted to have your feedback.
My current thought is to vote on a Christian Historical Romance novel, pick a day where we come together via Zoom (or just posts online) to discuss the book, play a game or two, and participate in a giveaway. I’d send discussion questions ahead of time because if you are like me, you need time to think and process. It would be an event you sign up for ahead of time and wouldn’t necessarily have to participate every time.
If I did it, I think the schedule would be January, March, May, July, September, and early November (to avoid holiday hassles).
The first one would be pretty short notice for this July, but the book options I’m thinking are:
- The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch – Regency
- A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White – WWI
- Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green – The Great Chicago Fire
If this is something you are interested in, please comment below. Let me know what book would be your top choice and any suggestions you might have.
Ready to sign up? Fill out the Google form at this link: https://forms.gle/a2MyEyzt4aTa1DqQ7