Member Reviews

Great book! Historical fiction about the end of the Civil War. This story also has romance and family drama,.

The Civil War is formally over but peace has not had time to heal all of the hard feelings between the people of America. Becoming united is going to take time. This book gives you a feel for some of the issues that people had to deal with in the south after the war was over. Losing is hard and the Union troops did not let the south forget that they had lost the war. Then on top of all of that, Lincoln was assassinated.

This story is set in 1865 in Arkansas and about the sinking of the steam boat Sultana that was carrying prisoners of war home to the north.. The Sultana disaster remains one the most deadly maritime accidents in U.S. history. The wooden steamboat exploded and caught fire while going up the Mississippi River overloaded with these Civil War Vets. So they had to be rescued and cared for by southern sympathizers after the explosion. So this was a very awkward and difficult situation for all involved. The characters in the book were well developed and engaging. I really enjoyed the love story. The family drama and issues of the southern sympathizers was enlightening.

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When Hope Sank: April 27, 1865. The day the steamboat, the Sultana, went down and over 1,100 people died.
The book is the third in the series, A Day to Remember.

Such research went into this book. Like many history buffs (I’m one via my genealogy research and no, I didn’t have anyone on the Sultana.), I’ve read about the Sultana tragedy and wondered if it was an accident, poor judgment, or what we would call today a terrorist act. This is a novel based on a historical event. The Sultana remains the worst maritime disaster in United States history.

The novel, When Hope Sank, is a window into what happened, the survivors and those who cared for them. The Civil War had ended only days before (April 9th). Soldiers were coming home. Those who hated still hated — whether Union or Confederate.

One passenger on board the Sultana was a doctor, Lt. Cade Palmer, who was freed from Andersonville Prison. His best friend, James Caldwell, had also survived and Cade knew he wouldn’t have made it without James. The ship was overcrowded. Massively so. The upper deck had been braced with heavy wooden beams. A blast tore through the boat and Cade stopped worrying about the sick & injured on board. Now it was about getting as many off the ship as he and James could do plus saving themselves. The fires were moving fast and time was of the essence.

Those ashore heard the blasts and ran toward the Mississippi to see what happened. Those who thought a moment came more prepared with wagons and blankets to transport the injured. Lucy Livingston’s Uncle Chad was one of those. Lucy worked at her uncle’s establishment, River Rest, an inn with a private room where meetings were not always ones where what was discussed was meant for anyone outside the room to hear.

Dr. Palmer was taken along with many others including James to River Rest with a badly injured hand, the hand that he needed to continue to do surgery. Lucy became Dr. Palmer’s primary caretaker. Lucy worked at River Rest, but was treated, especially by “aunt” Susanna like a servant, not as a niece. Lucy held her tongue because she had no way to provide for herself and her younger brother, Jacob. Also part of River Rest were Martha and her daughter Mika now freed but nothing had changed about their lives and working conditions.

Before you jump to the conclusion this is a romance …
This story has that element but is far more. There’s the older doctor who is caring for the injured and considers Dr. Palmer an upstart and his insistence about the treatment of his hand to be wrong. Wrong. Wrong. There’s the daughter of Uncle Chad but who is more like her mother Susanna. A girl whose jealousy has her make bad decisions which impact others. The young man who everyone thinks is Lucy’s “intended” returns from the war uninjured in body but is not the same man she knew. And most important, a mystery entwined throughout that could cost Lucy her life.

I highly recommend When Hope Sank. A novel but an educational one. This book is number three in the “A Day to Remember” series. I am now eager to read the previous two books. The series features “historic American disasters that transformed landscapes and multiple lives. Whether by nature or by man, these disasters changed history and were a day to be remembered.“

Barbour Publishing’s mission is “to inspire the world with the life-changing message of the Bible” and this story meets that goal. Faith brings the doctor and Lucy together. You will feel with the doctor his concern about his best friend James, an unbeliever. The words are never hammered at the reader but are gently part of that person’s persona. To this reviewer, the best way to present our Lord’s message.

I received a complimentary DRC (digital review copy) of When Hope Sank via NetGalley from the publisher, Barbour. A positive review was not required; the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Rating: 5 stars
Series: A Day to Remember, #3
Cover: Absolutely perfect!!!!!!!
Pages: 259
Publish Date: 1 May 2024
#WhenHopeSank #NetGalley #DeniseWeimer

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Another good book in Barbour’s A Day to Remember series focusing on historical disasters, this one the post Civil War sinking of the Sultana. The characters are engaging and well written. The story moved along at a good pace and kept me intrigued with lots of interesting facts beautifully woven into an emotional tale of tragedy, loss, second chances, redemption and love.
Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for the opportunity to read for my honest review.

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The war is over but is forgiveness within reach....

Wow! I vaguely remember reading something about the devastation of the Sultana in my history book but Denise Weimer really brought the true horror and trauma of the disaster to life in When Hope Sank. The fact that it involved hundreds of survivors of both the Civil War itself and the unimaginable suffering of Andersonville who were finally on their way home is even more tragic.

This third novel in the standalone A Day To Remember series was a very moving story. The characters struggles to put life together after four years of hardship, fear, and loss and find some semblance of both stability and a new normal only to have it jerked out from under them really tugs on the heartstrings.

Denise Weimer's attention to historical detail is as exquisite as ever and When Hope Sank more than lived up to my expectations in that department. Without bogging the reader down in minutia one knows that those were the things that they really wore, ate, and where they lived and walked a hundred and sixty years ago. And it's those things along with her storytelling ability that keep me coming back whenever I spot the author's name on the covers of her own series and shared ones such as A Day To Remember.

When Hope Sank was a good read and very enjoyable. The mystery and romance against the backdrop of a real historical event was both interesting and entertaining. And, as I rather expected this third A Day To Remember book also sparked some internet searches to find out more about the Sultana. And now that I've finished I will definitely be looking for more from this series as well as from Denise Weimer herself...

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are entirely my own.)

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When I discovered this series, I immediately thought it sounds like an adult version of the “I survived” books. I have really enjoyed those! I enjoyed this book and learning about The Sultana. I loved the characters and getting a little glimpse at how people felt shortly after the Civil War. I also loved the faith content! Really, my only complaint is that it was short - I felt like I could have learned more and connected more with the characters. It wasn’t as action packed at the “I survived” books, but it did have some action! I am pretty easy to please when it comes to Historical Fiction, especially Christian Historical Fiction. I am looking forward to reading more of this series!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book to read and review.

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When Hope Sank tells the story of the fateful day when the Sultana ship was carrying the POWs of the Union side back north. What happened was devastating as the ship blew up sending many of these soldiers to their deaths. What happened? Was it sabotage? Negligence? Or just a freak accident? As always, the author's notes at the back give us some insight as to what history says.

The war is over, but Lincoln has been assassinated, and the country has been torn apart. Reeling from its wounds we get a fictional account of the lack of trust on both sides of the North and South. Lieutenant Cade Palmer was a Union army surgeon and POW on his way back to the Union side, when his already turned up life becomes more so. Suffering from agonizing wounds, he is saved by the pretty Lily Livingston and taken to her Uncle's Inn in Arkansas.

Overhearing something she shouldn't have; Lily feels guilty about what happened. She is in a tough spot as all her immediate family accept her younger brother, has died. Now she is responsible for herself and him. When she saves Cade's life, little does she know her life will be forever changed.

This story really showed the realism of people's feelings when the country was just beginning the healing process from its war wounds and how could anyone trust the other side again. Both sides were devastated from death and war, and to have this unbelievable disaster that caused more tragic deaths and harm, was unthinkable. Who was at fault? Understandably this tragedy still showed how vulnerable the country still was. And for both Lily and Cade, some big decisions needed to be made and a lot of forgiveness needed to begin.

I have really been enjoying this series. I like that the authors are bringing one day disasters attention again, so that we may learn a bit more about history and what others had gone through before us.

I was provided a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

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Right away we see danger explode on the page as a steamboat starts to sink. Many lives were lost and those that survived tried desperately to get to safety. This starts an epic adventure where emotions run high and action spreads across the pages. The images of these men dying from the hot steam or drowning was so horrible to read. I can’t imagine what pain they felt as they fought to survive.

Lily works for her uncle at the River Rest Inn and overhears a conversation one day. A mention of a ship that could be destroyed by a boiler explosion gets her attention. She doesn’t tell anyone but when the steamboat explodes days later, she begins to wonder if she should have warned someone of what she overheard. Working alongside her uncle, they try to help the injured.

Cade finds himself trapped out in the waters in a whirlpool. Lily jumps in to save him but I think she may have put herself in danger. With her brother screaming her name from shore, Cade does everything he can to help Lily. What an exciting scene to see a man who is severely injured help Lily. He thinks Lily is a hero for coming to his rescue. What would he think if he knew Lily might have been able to prevent the tragedy he was just in?

I liked when Lily prayed for Cade even though she wasn’t convinced that God was listening . Perhaps she needs some alone time to get her relationship back on track with God. It was interesting to find out why Cade enlisted. He did it thinking it would convince his dad how committed he was to medicine.

There is a lot of emotional moments in the story and I like how faith flowed throughout. Enemies were everywhere it seemed but Lily and Cade were able to put their differences aside. Cade became more protective of Lily especially when her aunt was so mean to her. To find out what happens to our main characters grab a copy of the book and explore a part of history.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

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I thought this was a well written story about an event that I had heard about but didn’t know to much about. I thought the author did a great job incorporating facts into her story. I also thought that she did a great job helping us feel what the characters were feeling and helping us to feel their grief or guilt. I liked how she wove her romance between Cade and Lily into the aftermath of the sinking of the Sultana. I also liked how she showed us what life in the South would have been like at the end of the Civil War. I found the story to be engaging and very interesting. I would recommend this book.

I received a complimentary book from publishers, publicists, and or authors.  A review was not required and all opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

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I’ve always been drawn to stories that take place during or post war. I just love these stories show the strength of the human heart and soul’s ability to overcome tragedies. I’ve read and enjoyed all the books in the A Day to Remember series. Each story is written by a different author and features an American historical disaster.

“When Hope Sank” is a memorable and meaningful redemption story with a Civil War setting. I love how the story opens with action and dialogue instead of dumping me in backstory or superfluous descriptions. I was quickly drawn in by Lily, her personality, and the 1860s era.

I was captivated by the historical elements, wonderfully fleshed out characters, the mystery of what sank the Sultana, romance, and the spiritual thread throughout. Lily was easy to connect with and Cade was interesting, flaws and all.

This story pulled me through my emotions, and I learned so much about the explosion of the Sultana. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end!

First Line: “Free Arkansas.”
Series: A Day to Remember, book 3
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Author: Denise Weimer
Page Count: 256

#CoverLoverBookReview received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions are 100% mine.

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When Hope Sank is book three in the Day to Remember series. The series is written by multiple authors and are all tied together by the historic event theme. This book is written by Denise Weimer. The author has done some careful research to bring this historic event to light.

The Civil War is over. Prisoners of War are being bused back where they can muster out of the Army. Tensions are still high, especially in the Southern states. Lily lives with her uncle and helps with his business. Her parents have passed and she is grateful to have somewhere to live. Her feelings about the war are different than her uncles, but she has learned to do as she is told. Her cousin, Beth, is a little more outspoken. She is sleeping one day when she is awoken by screams and shouts.

Cade is a doctor in the army. He is so happy to be released and cannot wait to get back to Northern soil. He is on the steamship coming home when suddenly it blows to pieces. His medical training kicks in and he tries to get as many to safety as he can.

Lily and her brother go down and try and help. When they find Cade and an unconscious man on a door Lilly sheds her garments and jumps in. She helps to bring them to shore. Cade has broken bones and burns all on his backs. However it becomes clear he does not want to be in the company of Southern Sympathizers. He buts heads with the towns doctor. Lily and her calming nature continues to try and help Cade.

I really liked the characters. They had hurt and pain from the war that has effected how they feel about people. I loved Lily's patience. She has great attention to detail and understands different medical terms to assist.

I love how the author captured how those might have felt after the war. Tensions were still high. I went and looked up this event and the author did a great job at keeping in important historical details. The book is well written. The storyline is engaging. I have been loving this whole series.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own.

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The setting of this exciting novel is Mounds City, Arkansas, shortly after the Civil War. I didn’t realize that even after the war ended, espionage and sabotage were still actively pursued by disgruntled Southerners. I appreciated reading about the area and people, and saddened by the explosion and sinking of the Sultana, the worst maritime disaster in the United States.

Lily and her younger brother Jacob lived with their uncle and aunt, Thad and Susanna, after their parents died. Their cousin, Beth, was about Lily’s age, but the two girls weren’t close friends. Susanna and her daughter Beth were strong Southern sympathizers. Thad was moderate, as the parents of Lily and Jacob had been. Thad and Susanna owned River Rest Inn that included a kitchen, bar, and dining room. A good businessman, Thad stayed out of arguments about slavery and secession.

One night Lily went to the private dining room with drinks for a special group. Beth was already there, showing an interest in the men’s conversation. One man talked about ships that were carrying Northern POWs homeward from confederate prisons, and how easy it would be to cause a boiler explosion that could kill most soldiers on board. Lily was shocked, but Beth insisted it was just talk.

A couple weeks later, the steamship Sultana was going up the river, heavily overloaded with several paying passengers and many released Union POWs. Carrying double its capacity, the steamship was destroyed by a boiler explosion late at night, in the river at Mounds City. People were killed from the steam, the fire, by drowning, or being crushed from collapsing ship components. Anyone who could, went to the river to help get survivors from the water and get medical and other needs met.

People were taken to River Rest Inn until all its rooms were full. Lily and James helped Cade Palmer and his friend James out of the river; Lily had even fallen in an eddy trying to help. They didn’t know it, but Cade was a skilled surgeon who enlisted with the Union after college. Cade had stopped talking with God quite some time ago, as had Lily, each for their own reasons. Cade’s right hand was severely damaged when trying to save his friend, and he worried if he would ever operate again. Lily is convinced the accident and deaths were her fault as she didn’t tell the provost marshal about the conversation she overheard.

The characters almost come to life as we learn about them by their realistic conversations and behaviors. I especially like Lily and Cade, and appreciated their spiritual and life struggles. I could well understand how Lily could pray for others but not herself, and liked how she began to encourage, then nurture, Cade’s return to faith and how she tried to understand Beth rather than hate her.

This novel was very well written, with suspense, history, and two people who became willing to seek the Lord again. I appreciated how the assassination of President Lincoln was included, and how the author explained the plots and espionage. I enjoyed reading about how messages were changed into codes, also. There were surprises with the resolutions of circumstances, including Uncle Thad’s actions throughout the war. I highly recommend this novel to fans of women’s Christian fiction, sweet romance, and those who enjoy real historical events in America.

From a thankful heart: I received an uncorrected ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley and Celebrate Lit, and this is my honest review.

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When Hope Sank is a story that draws deeply on a historical event from the Civil War era–the explosion and sinking of the Sultana. But it’s more than that. It’s a story that explores ordinary people caught up in a tragedy beyond their control. When Hope Sank looks at the emotional side of the Sultana’s fall.

Denise did an incredible job in researching the details of this story. One aspect that I especially loved was all the 1860’s medical talk and the battles over which treatments would be best for patients in the long run. The information is fascinating.

Cade and Lily are both loveable characters. More than that, they are characters that come alive in your mind and linger. Their hearts pour into the story, and the climax will steal your breath. Of all the points in the book, that is the spot where Cade and Lily shine brightest.

Content for potential concern: There was one point where a man kidnaps a woman and almost treats her in a wicked way. He doesn’t have his way–but it’s close. Sensitive readers will want to keep this in mind.

When Hope Sank has all the elements of an enduring tale. A unique take on history. Love. Struggle. Sacrifice. It’s a story I highly recommend for anyone who loves Christian fiction with a strong historical theme.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book, but was not required to leave a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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When Hope Sank is a wonderful historical fiction novel taking place during the Civil War that you are going to love!  I love a good historical novel.  The Civil War is an all-time favorite of mine.  I have spent a lot of time studying it and learning as much as I can.  I have enjoyed learning more about history through this novel. 

This is book three in a six-book series.  I have not read all of them.  I know that's a shocker since I normally read books in a series in the order they're written.  This series really is all stand-alone novels.  

The characters were wonderful.  They pull you in and make the story come alive.  It's like watching a historical fiction movie but on the pages instead of a screen.  I think you'll really enjoy this book.  I know I did.  So, let me know what you think after you read it. 

I have voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from Celebrate Lit. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.

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Historical fiction based upon true events is the basis for A Day to Remember series and they way that author Denise Weimer has written this story truly causes you to feel that you are part of it. The details that are woven into the story were well done as you see the division between the Confederates and the Unionists after the Civil War.

The romance between Lily and Cade brought home the fact that differences have to be put aside in order to bring true healing. The faith that both of them exhibited was am integral part of the story and well done. I’d recommend reading this book if you enjoy clean, faith-inspired historical novels.

I received a I received a complimentary copy of the book through Celebrate Lit. I voluntarily reviewed this book, and all opinions are my own.

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“Who said anything about love?” She stepped around him, passing close as she reached for the door. “It’s not something I’ve dared to even hope for … until now.”

Barbour has come out with some of the best series! This one, A Day to Remember, involves six different obscure American tragedies. Each can be read without reading the others, but if you read one, you’ll want to read the rest!

Book three, When Hope Sank, is NOT about the Titanic! Rather, Denise Weimer recounts the disastrous 1865 journey of the steamboat the Sultana. The Sultana is carrying pardoned Union POW soldiers from Southern prisons up the Mississippi River. Cade Palmer, a doctor, and his close friend, James Caldwell, are two men on that ill-fated, massively overloaded boat, made to carry 500, but carrying over 2,000. A sudden explosion sends many men straight into eternity. Others are lost in the flaming boat and river debris as they try to escape.

Lily Livingston, living with her strongly Southern sympathizing aunt, cousin, and more moderate uncle, finds herself helping to rescue Cade and James from the river. As she cares for Cade’s injuries, she begins to care for the man himself.

Personal growth comes for both Cade and Lily, but painfully, slowly. Cade comes to realize evil is not just in those whose hatred causes untold death and destruction, but even in his own choices he makes that are self-serving. “…God allowed people a choice, and many in every generation chose evil. Because serving oneself was, in reality, serving evil instead of God.”

“He always thought his optimism and good works would get him into heaven. He never seemed to realize there are no good people, just as my father used to say, only bad people who can either choose justice or grace.” I found this quote from Cade describing someone else ironic. Yes, Cade has already chosen God’s grace of salvation. But… the crux of the novel is… will he choose to extend God’s grace or try to visit His wrath on others he deems unworthy?

Conflict and great personal angst threaten as Lily and James deal with things they failed to do in the past. Their failures affect the people around them and guilt bears down. Will their faith rise to the occasion or will they sink under the enormity of all they’ve lost? Can God really use such a horrendous tragedy for good?

I highly recommend this novel! I received a copy from Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. I also bought my own ecopy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Pain is pain. It just hurts.” … “But it hurts a little less if you share it.”

“It’s hardly a crime to want others to think well of you.” He dropped her hand and lowered his gaze. “Not until you want it so much you put that above what God thinks.”

“By her own admission, she shared his ideals, and more importantly, his faith. Both of them clung to their spiritual heritage despite all they’d been through, and somehow, they strengthened each other in it. Believed for each other where they no longer could do so for themselves.”

“Better to be alone than to keep company with the wrong people.”

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My favorite genre: historical fiction. One of my favorite time periods: the Civil War era. Based on true events: a huge bonus. When Hope Sank covers them all! Add in Christian faith, and a touch of romance, and this one hits it out of the ballpark!

Since I lived near the Mississippi River for several years, it was easy for me to feel immersed in this story. Being a Northern-born girl myself, who has lived a large portion of my life in the South, I understand the tension (which sometimes still exists today). Lily's story resonates with my heart.

If you enjoy Christian historical fiction, with a touch of romance, be sure to grab your own copy!

I received a complimentary copy. These opinions are my own.

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This is a well-researched, interesting story filled with tragedy and hard decisions. While also showing how divided our country still was even at the end of the war, full of hope and faith in God, and sweet romance.

Lily and Cade sure had a crazy introduction, all formality was swept right down the river. Cade found out very quickly that being a patient was much harder than being a doctor. Lily learned that sometimes doing the right thing involves sacrifice.

This ARC was provided through NetGalley by the publisher. I was not required to give a positive review, rating and opinions are my own.

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This series has been enlightening, drawing attention to long forgotten disasters. I appreciate the Author Note at the end explaining what was known about this disaster and what remained a mystery.

Weimer explored the deep feelings still rampant at the end of the Civil War, even affecting family relationships. We also see the reasons for those heightened emotions and why some attempted sabotage. That attempted sabotage provided a mystery and some post disaster suspense. A romance is added to flesh out the story and there is a good faith message included. The characters were believable and well developed.

This is a good book for those who like a very readable novel informing readers of a disaster long ago.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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This book takes the reader back to the end of the Civil War, when prisoners of war were to be returned home. With meticulous research and detail, Denise Weimer recreates a historical event and how it may have affected those involved. Countrymen are still divided by the War and with a massive explosion on the steamship carrying servicemen back home many questions arise about possible sabotage. But what would the purpose be, why target a steamship overly loaded with former prisoners, and how to prove it one way or the other. But when one question seems to be answered it arises a myriad of further questions that pull the characters into a deadly hunt for truth and freedom.
The characters bring this story to life with the wide swing of palpable emotions and exploring relationships and how they in turn affect others. One decision can have wide reaching consequences for everyone around. Denise Weimer sews faith into the fabric of the story with grace and redemption a focal point. Learning to lean on God and the plan He ordains for each life, if only you have the strength and faith to follow Him.
I loved to see a historical event brought to life with wonderful characters that made the story feel more real to the present day. Denise Weimer has penned a wonderful tale with amazing detail and research. I look forward to the continuing series. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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This historical fiction novel about the critical time at the end of the Civil War with prisoners of war released from Andersonville flowed easily and Cade and Lily were characters I easily connected with.

Apart from the physical and emotional healing Cade was going through, there was also a danger and mystery thread involving Southern sympathizers who did not want to accept the end of the war.

The author also did a good job of showing different viewpoints of the people involved, those who supported the southern beliefs, those caught in the southern world but was behind what the north fought for, and the slaves caught om the middle.

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