Cover Image: A Ballad of Love and Glory

A Ballad of Love and Glory

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

When I first began reading this, I definitely couldn’t put it down. The going back and forth between the perspectives of the main character were nice and kept me interested. But the overall story was dry and started to get me uninterested. Maybe because romance type of novels aren’t my thing. Maybe because I felt that it was going slow and I needed something to happen for it to pickup and it felt as if it were never going to come. For me, I didn’t love this nor finished. But for other that are big fans of romance, this could definitely be a favorite or a good book.
Was this review helpful?
This book detailed a part of history that I was unfamiliar with, the Mexican-American War. It is based on true characters and is amazingly told. This book will keep you reading deep into the night with the emotions it engenders, the ending you need to know. Very descriptive and illuminating. Perfect for lovers of Historical Fiction.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the ARC (kindle edition) in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I found this to be a well-researched story of the Mexican-American War. I personally did not find it comparable to A Long Petal of the Sea nor Cold Mountain. Of course, Cold Mountain is one of my most favorite books ever so it would take a spectacular book to bump that out of it’s all time slot. 
The descriptions of the battles were very well told and the atrocities done by the American officers was absolutely horrendous. I am always appalled when I read about what takes place during times of war, not always by the enemy, but by the officers that are supposed to be setting the example. I admired Ximena Salome’, what a brave woman. The other main character, John Riley did the best he could do with what he had to endure. 
If you enjoy this time period or want to know more of this war in the 1840’s. I would highly recommend. 
Received an ARC from Atria Books and NetGalley for my unbiased review – This one comes in with 4 stars.
Was this review helpful?
Keep your eyes peeled for this beauty of a book that comes out on March 15, 2022! If you love historical accounts of war infused with romance, you will enjoy this novel! I found this novel to be very interesting as I learned about the battle for land between the USA and Mexico. Reyna Grande’s vision for telling this story and important piece of history came together beautifully. ❤️ I especially loved the descriptions of the 19th century Mexican cities, culture and fierce loyalty of the soldiers. 

A Ballad of Love and Glory is a historical fiction about war and love. The region along the Rio Grande river is under siege as the USA attempts to expand their territory into Mexico. John is an Irish immigrant serving the US army. He later defects due to the poor treatment of the immigrant soldiers. He makes a daring move and swims across the Rio Grande to join forces with the Mexican army in return for promised land and citizenship. Conditions on the Mexican side are much better for John. John meets Ximena, a healer and visionary, who nurses wounded soldiers. The attraction to one another is instant. As Ximena and John fight for Mexico, their love grows deeper but so does the turmoil around them. Will their love withstand the devastation of war? 

Thank you to @netgalley and @atriabooks for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 🙏🏻 I throughly enjoyed this book and will be recommending it! Great job @writerreynagrande ! 👏🏻 

#bookadoration #bookstagram #canadianbookstagram #aballadofloveandglory #reynagrande #historicalfiction #netgalley #atria #atriabooks #writerreynagrande
Was this review helpful?
A classic historical fiction, this is perfect for fans of authors like Isabel Allende. This novel initially drew me in because it was about an event and group of people in history I was not aware of. I love stories that teach me something new and also make you realize that there are so many connections in this world that unite the most unexpected of people. 
A tale of two lonely people in the midst of war, John Riley and Ximena are admirable characters on their own as well as together. I really loved that there were a lot of character exploration outside of their romance and that the author spent a lot of time talking about the political situation at the time, making this novel just as great for history lovers.
Was this review helpful?
“A Ballad of Love and Glory” and an epic historical fiction cast against the Mexican-American War in 1846. The story follows John Riley, an Irish immigrant who has seen his fair share of war- fighting with the British army before coming to the US to eventually be drawn back into battle in hopes of making enough money to move his wife and son to the US too. But as the campaign wears on, and under constant discrimination and disdain as a second-class person, John realizes he may be on the wrong side of the US-Mexican fight. 
Ximena is a Mexican healer, who has also seen her fair share of death and destruction. She has no love for the US and their continued push southward into sovereign Mexican territory. Her husband goes to fight back the Texas Rangers bent on destroying their ranches and homes… but perishes. As she and her grandmother flee, it sets off a chain of events integrating her presence into the war and into John’s life. 
The author’s descriptions are strongest when expanding on the natural beauty of the landscape and in the earnest pain and suffering of the soldiers. It heightened the atmosphere of the story to practically smell the air and see the colors around every scene. Truly though, the research and integrity of the storyline is what is most compelling for this novel. The author has done a phenomenal job creating her characters inside of the context of the time/place. It is difficult to read at times, knowing that so much of the events and letters are based in fact, and feeling the despair and regrets of choices made and consequences received.  But it is a fantastic addition to historical fiction - and fills a gap in time that has not been so thoroughly addressed before.
Was this review helpful?
Such a fabulous book with incredible writing. It really swept me away. Rarely do I read books like this but I thought I would try something different. I am so glad I did. A Ballad of Love and Glory is a book set against a historical backdrop and tells the story of a Mexican army nurse and an Irish soldier who fall in love. They have to beat the odds and ultimately do everything they can to be together. An amazing love story that will spark your imagination and pull at all your feelings. High recommendation from me!
Was this review helpful?
There are two main elements of A Ballad of Love and Glory that piqued my interest in it story. One is that it highlights such an important (and under-discussed) time in history. Like Reyna Grande herself, who describes not learning about the Mexican-American War until college, I don’t believe I learned about it until college either. My first memory of hearing much about it was in a novel I was assigned during my junior year, George Washington Gómez by Américo Paredes. However, my knowledge of of the war was still lacking, and I’ve always found fiction to be an immersive way of learning.

A Ballad of Love and Glory is set during a real event, and it stars two real-life people, fictionalized here. As Mexico faces a looming war with the United States, Ximena is a curandera – a healer – who wants to help her country as she can. Dangerous as it may be, she works to heal the soldiers injured in battle. John Riley, an Irish immigrant, was fighting on the American side until he decided to switch and fight on behalf of Mexico. He was joined by numerous other immigrants – from Ireland, Germany, Poland, and more – who deserted the U.S. Army in favor of Mexico.

The second element that drew me to A Ballad of Love and Glory is that it highlights an intercultural, interracial couple. Ximena is a Mexican woman and John is an Irish immigrant, yet they bond over their shared beliefs. Both are Catholic, both believe in Mexico’s right to freedom from oppression, and both believe in their duty to serve their countries. I love seeing how two people who seem so different can have so much in common. (This is like my husband and me: He’s Peruvian and I’m an American woman of mainly English and Irish descent.)

In some ways, A Ballad of Love and Glory is a love story, but that romance generally takes a backseat to the war between Mexico and the U.S. Indeed, much of the focus is on the soldiers, battles, strategies, weapons, and so on. While we follow John and his role during battle, we also follow Ximena and her efforts to save and heal as many soldiers as she can. The reader gets plenty of detail on the different battles, who was leading the Mexican army during each one, and the politics of the war. We also get John’s perspective as an Irishman whose own country has been controlled by England for far too long. He draws comparison between Ireland and Mexico and their respective fights against the English and the Americans.

Early on, it was painful to read about how terribly John and his fellow immigrants were treated by the American soldiers they fought alongside. The Americans were so hateful and unforgiving, treating the immigrants with immense disrespect, hatred, and violence. Sadly, the U.S. does have a history of racism and aggression, something we still see to this day. It was no wonder when John and his immigrant compatriots deserted the U.S. Army to fight alongside people who gave them respect and kindness. Further, Mexico was more in line with John’s Irish beliefs and morals.

In the midst of all this hardship, John and Ximena do find solace and love in each other. It is a bit taboo at first. Ximena’s husband dies shortly before she meets John. However, John still has a wife and son back home in Ireland. He feels guilty for his growing feelings for Ximena, delaying a relationship between them. Is it wrong for him to find comfort in Ximena? His guilt plays a large role in A Ballad of Love and Glory – not just in his potential relationship with Ximena, but also in his role in leading his fellow immigrants to desert the U.S. Army and fight alongside Mexico. Is it his fault if they get killed in battle?

Although the book explores a lot of emotional depth and the turmoils of war, something about A Ballad of Love and Glory does also feel a tad distant, like we’re always kept just at arm’s length. I found myself wishing it was a bit more involved with the characters’ inner lives and feelings. Getting a first person narrative rather than the third person used in the novel may have made it more connective. This is no slight against Reyna Grande’s writing; she’s clearly talented and offers a contemplative novel here. But my personal preference is generally for something more immersive in the characters.

A Ballad of Love and Glory is ultimately a bittersweet novel. Given its wartime setting, and given the outcome of that war, you should go into this book knowing that it will dive into sadness, pain, and suffering. Some beloved characters won’t survive to the end; seeing Mexico torn apart, bit by bit, is horrible. But despite all of that, the novel also offers hope and love, and it ends with a light at the end of the tunnel. There is some happiness to be found even in the harshest of circumstances.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Ballad of Love and Glory, from its setting in Mexico to its intercultural examination. I learned a lot about the Mexican-American War, and I discovered eye-opening comparisons between two seemingly disparate countries. This is a book worth reading as soon as it’s available.
Was this review helpful?
5 stars
Not at all what I expected. I do feel there is a audience for this book. It is not for me. Thanks for the ARC of this book.
Was this review helpful?
This is a richly told historical-romance fiction that reveals some little known facts about the Mexican-American war. The time and setting are 1846 at the border of the Rio Grande where Mexico and the US are battling for control. The two main characters are Ximena, a Mexican healer and John Riley, an Irish immigrant. John is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the cruelties enacted by the Americans against the Irish in what he views as an unjust war. He swims across the river to Mexico and eventually meets up with Ximena on the front. This is where their story begins. He ends up forming the St. Patrick's Battalion......a band of Irish soldiers willing to fight for Mexico's freedom.
What surprised me the most was learning that John Riley and the existence of his mexican army were true. Knowing how cruel some Americans were(and still are) to immigrants it shouldn't shock me at all. The author's researched must have been deep and thorough. I really enjoyed the beautiful prose and the pace of the story. A big thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc.
Was this review helpful?
A historical fiction and romance set in the Mexican-American War in 1846. A time period I am not very familiar with, so reading this was like a breath of fresh air. Inspired by true events, an eye-opener, and a true gem.

Full review to come and rating may change!
Was this review helpful?
FOCUS ON A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande

Grande, Reyna. A Ballad of Love and Glory. Atria Books (an imprint of Simon and Schuster), New York, NY. Publication date March 15, 2022. 
[Historical fiction; ISBN 978-1-9821-6526-0].

According to a November 26, 2021 article in the New York Times called “Burial Ground Under the Alamo Stirs a Texas Feud,” the Alamo is built on top of the Tāp Pīlam Nation’s cemetery. That means that all the people visiting the site of the battle--where Americans who wanted to be independent from Mexico and become part of the United States--are unknowingly perhaps, until now, treading on the Native American’s ancestor’s graves, as well as those of additional Native American tribe members and Spanish and Mexican colonists buried there. Since Texas is planning a massive 400-million-dollar makeover for the Alamo, naturally, the successors—which the Tāp Pīlam Nation believes to be about 100,000 from their tribe--seek to preserve the integrity of the cemetery.

Now, this seems like a monumental historical find and an outstanding opportunity to begin to heal a nation or two or three concerning these matters, as well as add considerable value to the Alamo. But maybe 185 years or so is not long enough to overcome the beliefs that are maintaining the conflicts.

A Ballad of Love and Glory is about the Mexican American War as experienced by Ximena Salomé, whose grandmother taught her how to heal using herbs, and how to interpret and use her prophetic dreams. 

I could say that this story has a strong female protagonist. But if I told you the commander-in-chief of the Mexican Liberating Army of the North said that Ximena Salomé had more pluck than all of his chiefs…well, you get the picture.

I could tell you that Ximena is hopelessly in love. But if I said this Irish man leading the artillery unit of Saint Patrick’s Battalion (San Patricios) is married to fighting for independence—Mexico’s and Ireland’s--and practiced in the art of self-punishment, you may get a better feel for Ximena’s affections.

I could state that Ximena made lemonade out of lemons. But if you see through the eyes of her beloved the way she got the aristocratic women to let go of their biases about her, you may sense his admiration for her.

I can say how appealing the sensory-based language is in the story. But if I tell you that you can almost smell and taste the tortillas and beans, you may be tempted to say, “I’ll have what they’re having!”

The novel said that the Yankees (Yanquis) punished immigrant soldiers (primarily privates who were Irish, Germans, Italians, Scots, French, et. al.)  more severely than their American counterparts for the same infraction. If memory serves me well, the novel did not depict any punishment for American soldiers. According to the narrative,  immigrant soldiers who, for example, failed to acknowledge American officers in the approved manner or who were repeatedly intoxicated, were punished by being bound, gagged, branded on the face, or worse. 

I could say that Ximena could hold her own as well as anybody in edgy situations. But I could communicate to you that the commander-in-chief of the Mexican Liberating Army of the North tried to paint himself in a better light by telling her that seven times he gave those at the Alamo a chance to wave the white flag and they didn’t. Further, he said that the Norteamericanos only honor men like Travis, Bowie, and Crockett and not the original Texans who died at the Alamo. Ximena is astounded by his haughtiness yet continues to confront him about his assumptions. And then you begin to see the complex nature of some of the problems leading to and maintaining the Mexican American War.

A Ballad of Love and Glory is an engaging love story—love of another, love of country, love of a way of life—and  an absorbing war story. I would have liked to have seen additional insights about the lingering influence the Spanish Monarchy may have had as well as the Native Americans of Mexico. For those who like historical fiction about war and are curious to learn more about this part of history, I recommend this novel.


A Dream Called Home (2019, memoir)
The Distance Between Us (2013, memoir, for young readers ages 10-14)
Across A Hundred Mountains (2007, cultural heritage fiction)

For  additional titles, please see her Website:
Peggy McGibney is a performance enhancement consultant, professional and personal development coach, and published author of numerous articles about healthcare, education, and business. She also served as chair and member of Writers’ Bloc.  This organization provided information about writers and writing in the Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties in Florida, and sponsored lectures and workshops. PM has a master’s degree in educational psychology and in systemic studies with expertise in cognitive, behavioral, systemic, and linguistic disciplines and was a previous faculty member in health sciences, communications, and faculty development disciplines. She is a NetGalley member and professional reader. Her interviews and reviews may be found at Peggy McGibney Authors and Books on Facebook.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Atria and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande is a fantastic historical fiction and romance set during the Mexican-American War in 1846.  The story revolves around Ximena, a Mexican nurse, and John, an Irish immigrant and soldier.  Ximena has enlisted to serve as a nurse following the death of her husband at the hands of the US army.  John enlisted in the army to help his family who are enduring the Irish famine, but ends up deserting and joining the Mexican army.  How will Ximena and John's relationship develop?  And will their love survive the war?

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 that sets up the setting of the novel:

"When the three steamships came into view, undulating on the shimmering open waters of the gulf, the villagers grew quiet and still, in the way Ximena had seen meadowlarks freeze when hunted by a hawk. Standing on the shore of the Laguna Madre, the water soaking into her skirts, she squinted from the glare as she watched the ships passing through the entrance of the inlet, the smoke rolling out of their funnels dark as storm clouds. She trembled inside. These vessels were not traders or merchants bringing goods to market.
As the steamships anchored in the harbor, she caught flashes of red and blue in the air and something glinting on the decks in the afternoon sunlight. Though she couldn’t see clearly what they carried, an image formed in her mind: bronze cannons and blue-clad soldiers."

Overall, A Ballad of Love and Glory is an amazing historical romance that will appeal to fans of Velvet is the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  One highlight of this book is the immense amount of research that the author must have done in order to write this book. I was astonished by the author's note that reveals that John Riley was a real person in history and not just a made-up character. I had never learned about an Irish battalion that fought for Mexico against the US before.  I am so happy to have learned something from reading this book.  If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in March!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book. The history of the battle for the border between the US and Mexico. The people, the fighting,, the blood, and the sacrifices that were made. I believe the way the immigrants were treated and, why they would want to desert the US military. I believe that the people of Mexico treated the immigrants so much better. I cringed and wanted to cry for what happened to the people of Mexico and the immigrants who proudly fought for them. I kept wanting more and more of this love story. It is love story wrapped in a historical story of war. I didn’t want it to end.
Was this review helpful?
I think this would be a hit for those who enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing.  That said, I was not one of those folks.  Some interesting historical notes, for sure.  The romance took center stage, but I prefer my romance contemporary.  An enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
This story is set between 1846-48.  Ximena is a Mexican healer whose life was practically destroyed in the Spring of 1846.  The dispute lead to a full-out war over a strip of land between the Rio Grande and the Rio Nueces Her husband was killed by Texas Rangers, her home ruined and with no placed else to go she becomes an army nurse going from battlefield to battlefield.   This is her contribution to help Mexico and honor her late husband.

John Riley is an Irish immigrant serving in the U.S. army.  However, dealing with the horrible and disgusting treatment of his fellow immigrant soldiers, he deserts the army and joins the Mexican cause.  He is not the only deserter, there are more Irish who follow him into Mexico to fight the Yanquis.  So determined were these soldiers they were actually honored by Santa Anna with their own unit, Saint Patrick's Battalion.  For John it was a war similar to that of his native land, Ireland, a place where loyalty was questioned, where the English treated the Irish harshly with false promises.  

Together John and Ximena meet on one of the battlefields and are quickly drawn to one another.  Their love slowly evolves.  Each one giving Mexico their loyalty...for her wanting to keep Mexico out of foreign hands; for him the freedom to eventually live in peace and wanting a piece of land to call his own.

This story is filled with emotions...friendships, loyalty, courage and love...not just romantic love, but the love of your fellow compatriot, especially in the time of war and peril.  When I picked up the book I wasn't quite sure what I would find inside... how it was written, would I enjoy it.  It has left me with a story that will resonate with me, filling me with a bit of history I haven't explored before.  This is an outstanding novel and beautifully written, one that I would highly recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction.
Was this review helpful?
A Ballad of Love and Glory is a great historical fiction novel that has it all: history, action, suspense, and romance wrapped up into one book that kept me engaged and entertained. 

I have to admit that I did not know a lot about the Mexican and American battles and events around 1846. Through the author’s gifted talent of storytelling, she was able to inform and introduce me to an area of American history that is sometimes glossed over, misunderstood, and missed. However, with the gripping plot and character cast, I did not for one moment feel as if I was in a classroom. 

It was real, raw, and honest. We can see events often missed by seeing it all from the eyes of Ximena, a Mexican army nurse, and John, an Irish American that ends up experiencing a sobering realization that what he was involved in as part of that segment of the American Army was at odds with his conscience and heart. The stakes are increased with the relationship that develops between the two. What then follows is a gripping and suspenseful story that truly captivated me until the end.  

I most certainly will be following this author in her future endeavors and will be researching this time period to learn more. 

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and Atria for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. 

I am only posting this review to NG at this time and will post it to my GR, Bookbub, Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 3/15/22.
Was this review helpful?
A Ballad of Love and Glory is inspired by actual events and explores the conflicting meanings of courage and loyalty.

Gulf of Mexico, 1846. Ximena, for eight months, has been hearing rumors of war between US and Mexico, after the Republic of Texas became the twenty-eighth state in the Union, thus leading to a dispute over this strip of land between the Rio Grande and the Rio Nueces. As long as they remain away from her and don’t disrupt her daily life, then life feels normal. But things change when her husband dies from the hands of Texas Rangers and she sees a deserter risking his life and fighting for her country. She feels as she needs to contribute to the same cause by caring for soldiers with her gift of healing.

Fort Texas, Rio Grande. John Riley has been enlisted for seven months during which time he’s seen his Irish countrymen suffer all manner of punishments at the hands of the Yankee officers. As Yankee’s ambition grows to capture the Mexico’s northern lands such as Upper California and New Mexico, John Riley sees leaflets claiming US government’s aggression against the Mexican nation and enticing men to desert. Riley quickly realizes that the US Army treats him exactly the same way as English one. They would never advance him. He’d always be a common solider. The leaflets put notions into his head.

The story is very rich in historical background, bringing many interesting facts. Half of the US Army is filled with immigrants, who are promised of a wholesome diet, comfortable quarters, and the finest medical care. None of it happens. What really happens is a lot of bullying from Yankee officers toward the immigrant soldiers. In turn, desertion follows. Who will make it across Rio Grande, how the battles will turn out and its effects keep a reader in suspense.

It was interesting to read about the formation of The Saint Patrick’s Battalion. Riley gets an opportunity to organize a battalion which is composed of foreigners and with its standards attracts more deserters. But even with the superb training, Riley knows that his crew’s equipment is no match for the range of the Yankee guns.

With poignant storytelling, the buried pieces of history come alive, weaving the lives of Irish men who just wanted to have a piece of land to call their own and not be indebted to foreign landlords on their own land. It’s also a story of a courageous woman who didn’t want her land to go under control of a foreign power. Those two colliding stories question what courage and loyalty truly mean. There is also a love nuance to the story, but it doesn’t overwhelm the story.

There are some moments when it feels as there is some telling, but at the same time there are some hooks and tensions that make it an interesting story. However, I found the first half of the story to be stronger and having a faster pace. The second half has a lot of bottles and with that it offers action, but I still found the pace slower. I wished that among all those battles, it continued with character-development to make it more engaging.

Review originally posted at
Was this review helpful?
A novel about a little-explored era of USA history, this is a real gem. Read it for the love story, read it for the exposure of American "nativism" in the 1840s, and read it to better understand the events of what is called in our history books "The Mexican-American War." But definitely read it.
Was this review helpful?
This was the first book I have read by this author. And I must say, I enjoyed reading a historical fiction book set at the Mexican-US border (which is not my normal area of focus). All in all it was a good story, a love story with excellent research detailing the life of an army nurse in the 1800s when medicine wasn't the greatest...and it was even worse on a battlefield. A little slow at times, but it did keep my interest. 4 stars
Was this review helpful?