The Rebel Bride

The Rebel Bride (Daughter of the Mayflower, #10)The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read most of Shannon McNear’s books, but I think this one is her best. The setting, the characters, and the tension derived from split loyalties during the Civil War lead to a real page-turner. I enjoyed the story, even the secondary characters were well-defined and interesting. I wouldn’t mind knowing how the story of several of them played out in novels to come!

Byway to Danger

Byway to Danger (Spies of the Civil War #3)Byway to Danger by Sandra Merville Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a lovely conclusion to the series showcasing a pair of dedicated and compassionate people who risk everything to help end the war and slavery. We first met Meg in book one – so do read this series in order – but she blossoms in book three. Author Hart has presented a unique look at the undercover operations that were going on – on both sides of the Mason/Dixon Line – while the uniformed soldiers fought on the battlefields. She also offers a clear view of what life was like for those not involved in the fighting but living under the constant threat of nearby battles. A series well worth reading!

Songbird and Other Stories

Songbird and Other StoriesSongbird and Other Stories by Jennifer Lamont Leo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fun collection of 1920s stories that compliment the author’s two novels, You’re the Cream in my Coffee and Ain’t Misbehavin’. If you enjoy the Roarin’ 20s and the age of Downton Abbey – but in America – you’ll enjoy these stories.

The Lucky Thirteen

The Lucky Thirteen: The Winners of America's Triple Crown of Horse RacingThe Lucky Thirteen: The Winners of America’s Triple Crown of Horse Racing by Edward L. Bowen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very readable account of the thirteen exceptional horses who have won all three legs of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. I remember watching Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977, Affirmed in 1978, then surviving the long drought until American Pharoah in 2015, and Justify in 2018. There is a lot of great backstory in these pages and plenty of detail on personalities, pedigrees, and racing forms. Enough for the enthusiast without being so much it muddles the weekend race watcher.

Auschwitz Lullaby

Auschwitz LullabyAuschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a relatively short book, but within its pages you will find a lyrical, thoughtful, and heart-rending account of a German woman and her 5 half-Gypsy children who were interred at Auschwitz in 1943. Based on a true story, it’s a story of love and courage and strength. Helene Hannemann is a heroine who will live with the reader long after the book is closed.

When the Meadows Blooms

When the Meadow BloomsWhen the Meadow Blooms by Ann H. Gabhart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a loyal Ann Gabhart fan. I’ve read ALL her books! If this one isn’t her best, it’s just as good as.

Calla and Sienna Rose spend two years in an orphanage – even though they aren’t orphans. Their mother is in a sanatorium – a special hospital for people with tuberculosis. Rose has nowhere to live and no way to make a living, but she’s well enough to leave the sanatorium. She contacts her dead husband’s brother for help, but she didn’t expect him to show up to collect her and the girls. The crusty reclusive bachelor doesn’t know what to expect when his brother’s family comes to live with him, but it certainly wasn’t the unearthing of long-held secrets.

Beautifully told from 3 viewpoints that suck the reader deep into the characters’ lives. Well worth reading!

Carved in Stone

Carved in Stone (The Blackstone Legacy, #1)Carved in Stone by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved Elizabeth Camden’s early novels, but then I read a few that didn’t interest me much. This book was a choice I picked from a reading challenge on Goodreads. I’m so glad I did! It’s a well-written story about a woman from a rich New York family in 1900 and an Irish immigrant lawyer who falls in love with her. If you know your history at all, you’ll know that the Irish were treated very poorly in New York around 1900. The chasm between her world and his was vast. How they manage to walk between the two is a beautiful story with its share of intrigue. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

Season of My Enemy

Season of My Enemy (Heroines of WWII)Season of My Enemy by Naomi Dawn Musch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! It’s a beautiful picture of the world of WWII seen from the American home front. Most WWII books have to deal with the battles and/or people in Europe caught in the fighting. This story is about the people left behind who worry for their loved ones, deal with everyday sacrifices for the war effort, and try to keep their lives and livelihoods on an even keel. Fannie is one of those people, and when her only way to save the farm and feed the troops – including two of her brothers – is to hire German prisoners of war, she reluctantly concedes. And she learns what so many people eventually learn when forced to work side-by-side with the “enemy.” They are people too. Some are good, and some are bad. The trouble is telling them apart.

Boulevard of Confusion

Boulevard of Confusion (Spies of the Civil War #2)Boulevard of Confusion by Sandra Merville Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Sandra Merville Hart did a great job with this sequel to Avenue of Betrayal. In fact, I liked this one better! (But you need to read these in order, for sure.) Bea – Annie’s sister from book one – travels to visit her aunt in Richmond during the Civil War. Her family is split by the war, which is confusing to her, but we watch as she learns to balance the love of her family with her loyalties. And then comes Jay, the handsome Confederate soldier she barely remembers from her childhood visits. A beautiful balancing act develops between the two characters on their way to find – hopefully – happiness together. Can’t wait for book three to find out the rest of the story. (Read that last bit in your best Paul Harvey voice.)

The Librarian’s Journey

The Librarian's Journey: 4 Historical RomancesThe Librarian’s Journey: 4 Historical Romances by Patty Smith Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A historical romance collection themed around the packhorse librarians of the Great Depression. It’s a fun read. My favorite was For Such a Time by Patty Smith Hall. That story introduced the real-life character of Cason Callaway! (Great Lakes boatnerds will know that name!) And it was a charming story about choices in hard times. I also really enjoyed the last story, The Librarian and the Lawman by Kathleen Y’Barbo, which had a bit of a mystery to it. Well worth reading!