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 Between reading some unpublished books for critique partners, finishing edits, and trying to make progress on a 96,000 word rough draft, I just never made it.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?
Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million Book Depository Christianbook.com
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.
Amazon.com Baker Bookhouse Barnes and Noble Book Depository Christianbook.com
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.
Amazon.com Baker Bookhouse Barnes and Noble Book Depository Christianbook.com
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
It’s time for the monthly TBR Pile Tip-Over. 😉 Also, CONGRATULATIONS Kim H. on winning the choice of one of my top six books I am thankful for from last week’s post. Check your email so we can exchange details!
Everyone else, HAPPY READING!!
December 2019 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Stranded for the Holidays by Lisa Carter — Running away led her right where she belonged. A new mom for Christmas? She’s everything they’ve wished for. Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson — After a knockout first date where Cassie Everson and Jett Bentley claim to not want kids, both come home to find three children dropped in their laps. . . each. While struggling to keep their heads above the parental waters, and without wanting to break up their relationship, they decide to do the mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Home for Christmas by Candee Fick — After an embarrassing failure, a prodigal retreats to a secluded cabin in backwoods Missouri where he encounters an intriguing young woman and an old guitar. When the message in the music touches his heart, will he make it home in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Getting Out of the Comfort Zone: Ayanna by Barbara James — While interning as a hospital chaplain, a young military officer falls for an EMT who is an antiwar activist. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Battle In The Valley by Susanne Blumer — The church bell tower transports Chip, Caroline and Billy back thousands of years to an ancient battlefield. There they meet a young shepherd destined to be king and a giant warrior bent on his destruction. Will the children survive the upcoming fight and make it back to Palmetto Island in one piece? (Middle-grade from Sutton Avenue Press)
Hope Unchained by Carol Ashby — When a former legionary and a gladiator are hired to escort a young woman on her quest to rescue her brother and sister from slavery, more chains are broken by forgiveness and love than any of them thought possible. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)
The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings — In a western land run, an adventurous socialite stakes a claim on an orphaned outlaw’s chosen land, so he decides to stake a claim on her heart. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
Sew In Love by Debby Lee, Jacquolyn McMurray, Darlene Panzera, and Kimberley Woodhouse — When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their sewing lead to love? In Hearts Sewn with Love, during the California gold rush, a beautiful seamstress finds her heart torn between the men who want to marry her and the one fortune hunter who won’t. In Woven Hearts, a shirtwaist factory fire survivor struggles to provide for her family despite the disastrous misguided intentions of the handsome union organizer who tries to help. In A Language of Love, a milliner with thick Irish accent and a renowned baseball player with speech impediment meet at the office of a language teacher. But the issues with their backgrounds that first brought them together will also drive them apart. In Tailored Sweethearts, a parachute seamstress struggles with her faith in desperate circumstances. A fighter pilot teaches her to hope in her darkest hours. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear — 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. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Silent Night Suspect by Sharee Stover — Suspected of a crime she knows she didn’t commit… All she wants for Christmas is to remember. Blood on her blouse. A gun in her hand. A cartel leader’s dead body in front of her. Widow Asia Stratton can’t remember what happened—just that she’s been framed. The only way to prove her innocence is to work with her ex-sweetheart, Nebraska state trooper Slade Jackson. But can they clear her name before this Christmas turns even deadlier? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig — After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders. Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order-not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted-or cursed-with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)
Laynie Portland, Renegade Spy by Vikki Kestell — Laynie must fight to earn her place on the task force—even as unfolding events expose a looming danger. Wolfe’s task force has a leak . . . one that threatens them all. (Suspense, Independently Published)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Promise for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin, Historical Romance
Call to Love by Mary A. Felkins, Contemporary Romance
Joy’s Song by Ruth Kyser, Contemporary Romance
Hope Between Us by Christy LaShea, Contemporary Romance
The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Contemporary
Off the Ground by Catherine Richmond, Historical Romance
Crinoline Cowboys by Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Historical Romance
A High-Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer, Historical Romance
The Christmas Gazebo by Marilyn Turk, Lenora Worth, Historical Romance