Series: The Loyal League #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Kensington
Released on November 28, 2017
The Civil War has turned neighbor against neighbor--but for one scientist spy and her philosopher soldier, war could bind them together . . .
For three years of the War Between the States, Marlie Lynch has helped the cause in peace: with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings in her Carolina woods, tisanes and poultices for Union prisoners, and silent aid to fleeing slave and Freeman alike. Her formerly enslaved mother's traditions and the name of a white father she never knew have protected her--until the vicious Confederate Home Guard claims Marlie's home for their new base of operations in the guerilla war against Southern resistors of the Rebel cause.
Unbeknowst to those under her roof, escaped prisoner Ewan McCall is sheltering in her laboratory. Seemingly a quiet philosopher, Ewan has his own history with the cruel captain of the Home Guard, and a thoughtful but unbending strength Marlie finds irresistible.
When the revelation of a stunning family secret places Marlie's freedom on the line, she and Ewan have to run for their lives into the hostile Carolina night. Following the path of the Underground Railroad, they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle that could dash their hopes of love--and freedom--before they ever cross state lines.
A Union counter-intelligence officer and a member of the Loyal league meet in a Confederate prison and then must work hard against a sadistic evil man who uses his position as leader of the Home Guard to destroy other people. A war fought behind the lines and a personal war fought inside their hearts led to me being riveted once again by the latest Loyal League story.
A Hope Divided is book two of the series. It features the brother to the hero in book one and late in the story brings another character from book one into the mixed, but for the most part, it can be read standalone or out of order.
This book like book one, An Extraordinary Union, told a fantastic historical romantic suspense story set against the backdrop of America’s Civil War. But it was so much more than that. The author dug deep into lesser known historical events and produced a war story set behind Confederate lines and showed how much divisiveness there was in the South beyond their war with the North. She had a big picture and a smaller picture set inside it with the individual stories of her characters. Details were authentic in feel and the plot was well balanced between character and action driven plot.
The war was tearing people apart because of their greatly differing beliefs and forcing smaller fights between Southern abolitionists and anti-war Quakers and militant state sanctioned forces like the Home Guard. And it wasn’t just the south, the Union’s people were just as divided about the war- several were not fighting against slavery and were as bigoted about the blacks as some in the South.
The story is broad in scope, but the focus stays on Marlie and Ewan. She’s a free half-black living with her white relations in comparative comfort and had/has opportunities to an education and career field in studying botany and natural medicine. She’s caught between two worlds and it all comes crashing down on her as she is exposed to the cruelties around her and a deep family secret. Ewan is darker with the work he does in counter-intelligence and self-loathing. He’s brilliant, but tortured. They didn’t label autism back then, but the way the author wrote his character, I felt he might have been on the spectrum.
They were fantastic characters and I loved seeing their tentative friendship and secret longings grow into love and need. Both must struggle with how their pasts shape their thinking and how their present situation will likely push them apart, particularly since they are attempting to bridge the gap between black and white.
I have to say that the author can write some vile, loathsome villains. The leader of the Home Guard and Marlie’s relation by her brother’s marriage, Melanie turned my stomach. I so wanted them both to come to a bad end.
This was another fabulous story in the series and I can’t recommend the Loyal League series enough. The author can see perspective and gets right into the minds of the people of the day while writing a riveting storyline. I’m left with a good story, curiosity about history, and a thought provoking issue that is still true today.
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