The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear is the tenth book in the Daughter of the Mayflower series, though each book is a standalone and does not feature characters from other books. As it’s been my privilege to read most of this series, I’ve followed all the stories through American history and I’ve learned quite a lot, though the main focus are of course the characters and their personal struggles.

I’ve been a fan of Shannon McNear’s other novel in this series, The Cumberland Bride, and this novel doesn’t disappoint either. First, the author states the problems of writing about such a problematic and complicated time, and she does it with care in a very loving way, and I think this has been very well done and explained. I can honestly say I see a bit of her in the main character, both have an inexplicable kindness about them.

Joshua is a bluecoat, who finds himself in a rather precarious position, as he lost his hand at the battle of Chickamauga, and on top of that is imprisoned by the Rebels. He, and a few other man, are dropped off at a house, where they either will recover enough to be placed in a prisoner camp, or well... won’t recover.

Pearl suddenly finds herself with half a dozen Yankees in her home, when she has just recently heard the tragic news that 3 of her brothers have been killed in the war. Her father is suffering from a form of dementia (this is not specified but indicated as this was of course not known at that time period), her younger brother is running wild, and with a swindling food storage and too much to do she’s quite overwhelmed. She reluctanctly takes in the prisoners, because she’s given no choice, and struggles to care for them, as she wants to keep viewing them as the enemy. However this proves quite hard when they are human beings too, and in her care, so she cares. A lot. She can’t help but being kind... Pearl is such a strong woman, she does the impossible, really, and always keeps her faith. And yet, she’s very human too, and overwhelmed by it all, seeing no way out, and slowly she might be unexpected feelings for a handsome handless soldier who questions her loyalties and views, as she questions his.

What I love about this story, is that is really shows both sides, and that it is not as simple as good and evil, but extremely complicated and we’re all flawed and it usually comes down to a much smaller scale, protecting your loved ones and make choices best way you can. You can see the characters struggle, and each may have his and her own path, and you can understand all the choices. That is what makes this a good story, the empathy.

Also, you know a writer is really talented when she can write in the same scene for almost the entire book. Everything is centered around Pearl’s house, and I wasn’t bored for a minute, as there was so much going on! And Josh was also a very interesting character. Still recovering from the loss of his hand, he tries to make himself useful. I personally would have liked to see a bit more of his trauma, as it feels like he just accepts it and immediately pushes to his limits. While admirable, and it can be seen as a coping strategy to keep busy and not think about it, but most people go through grieving stages and I would’ve liked to see this a bit more, it feels like this would have made the story have more depth of character and very encouraging to see him struggle and (hopefully) overcome and accept his new reality. But despite that, he’s a very honorable, kind and thoughtful man, and everything you wish for in a hero.

The story itself was thought provoking, with a lovely slow burn impossible romance, and I really loved it and wanted to keep reading. The secondary characters shone too, especially Pearl’s sister in law, a POC named Lydia. There was quite a bit of diversity in this novel and that made me happy.

All in all, I really loved this story, and I can really recommend it to anyone!

I received a free copy through netgalley, and though I’m really grateful, it hasn’t influenced my opinion on this book.

Reacties op: Thoughtful book with an original angle on the Civil War

The Rebel Bride - Shannon McNear
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