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Review: The Civil War Heroines Series by Mary Ellis

Awhile back, I discovered Mary Ellis’s novel, The Quaker and the Rebel. It was an intriguing book. Shortly after, the author hosted a contest on her website for a free copy of the book. When I received it, I was pleased to see it was signed. 

More recently, I learned that there was a short story prequel for her Civil War Heroines series- even better, Amazon had it for free. So, when I noticed that I could review her second novel in the series, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to host a giveaway on my blog. 

I truly have enjoyed this series of novels so far. Each novel can read as a standalone (except the short story clearly only makes sense with the first novel in the series). I hope you will take the time to look into this wonderful series of novels by Mary Ellis.

Romance on the River

From Amazon: 

Summer 1861—Emily Harrison is finding life a bit overwhelming. Alone on her family’s farm, she must take on the roles of both housekeeper and farmer. She cares for the garden, makes plans for planting the fields, and milks the cows, all the while creating havoc in the home her mother used to keep immaculate. That is in addition to providing a safe house as part of the Underground Railroad. In the midst of this whirlpool of swirling tasks, she is getting ready to greet very important dinner guests—the love of her life and her pastor and his wife. Will Matthew finally propose? What news does Reverend Ames bring that turns Emily’s world upside down? How does the new war between the North and South impact her life? And…will the goose be cooked in time?

This short story was really sweet. It isn’t necessary to start the story, but if you are like me, and can’t get enough of characters you like, it is nice to get a glimpse of Emily Harrison’s life before The Quaker and the Rebel picks up. The beginning is funny with Emily’s miserable attempts at cooking. It also makes a good explanation to why she decides to become more personally active on the Underground Railroad.

It might not be a page-turner, but for those of you who like to revisit a character or have a bit more story, it’s a good one. I would suggest reading it before The Quaker and the Rebel. Besides, it’s a free eBook on Amazon currently and it only took me about 20 minutes to read. This also includes the first chapter of the first novel in the series.

The Quaker and the Rebel

Before I start this review, I need to confess that it has been a few months since I read this book, so I’m going off of memories. I hope I can still do the book justice!

From the back cover:

What Happens When an Underground Railroad Conductor 
Falls in Love with a Man Loyal to the Confederacy?
 
 Emily Harrison’s life has turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempts to continue her parents’ work in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm is sold in foreclosure. Now alone and without a home, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor’s family in slave-holding Virginia. Though it’s dangerous, she decides to continue her rescue efforts from there.
 
Alexander Hunt, the doctor’s handsome nephew, does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle’s newest employee. But he cannot take time to pursue Emily, for Alexander isn’t what he seems–rich, spoiled, and indolent. He has a secret identity. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a fearless man who fights the war from the shadows, stealing Union supplies and diverting them to the Southern cause.
 
The path before Alexander and Emily is complicated. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger.  Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they trust God with the challenges they face to provide them with a bright future?

To start with, the concept of this book really drew me in. Alexander and Emily seem to be complete opposites from their first meeting and with very different goals.

The really intriguing part of this novel comes with Alexander’s secret identity, the Gray Wraith. Ellis does a wonderful job of keeping his identity a secret from everyone in the book, and the reader is left wondering if and how the other characters will figure it out.

The Lady and the Officer

From Amazon:

Serving for a brief time as a nurse after the devastating battle of Gettysburg, Madeline Howard saves the life of Elliot Haywood, a colonel in the Confederate Home Guard. But even though Maddy makes her home in the South, her heart and political sympathies belong to General James Downing, a soldier from the North.

However, Colonel Haywood has never forgotten the beautiful nurse, and when he unexpectedly meets her again in Richmond, he is determined to win her. But while rubbing elbows with army officers and cavalry generals and war department officials in her aunt and uncle’s palatial home, Maddy overhears plans for a Confederate attack in northern Virginia. She knows passing along this information may save the life of her beloved James, but at what cost? Can she really betray the trust of her family and friends?

Maddy’s heart is pulled between wanting to be loyal to those who care for her and wanting to help the man she believes is on the right side of the conflict. Two men love her. Will her faith in God show her the way to a bright future, or will her choices bring a devastation of their own?

This novel was a wonderful read. Maddy is a complex character with a strong religious background brought to a point where she is considering subterfuge and dishonesty towards family and a man who she thinks of as a friend. The internal struggles she has concerning this, especially with Colonel Haywood, make for a compelling read.

While the romance aspect takes a backseat in this novel, the events of the Civil War shine. The novel takes the reader from Gettysburg to the destruction at Richmond. Ellis captures the struggles that the wealthy families of the south find themselves in. The novel is rich with historical detail.

The Lady and the Officer will be available August 1, 2014.

For more on the author or this series, please check out the following links:

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**Romance on the River is an eBook novella I bought on Amazon. The opinions on this blog are my own.**

**The Quaker and the Rebel was a book I recieved from my local library. The opinions on this blog are my own.**

**I received a free copy of The Lady and the Officer  from Harvest House and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

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