“Hold the line! For the love of God, hold it!” Not for the first time, Joshua Wheeler wondered if he’d descended into hell. The sun blazing fierce enough to make his head ache even through a cap.”Opening lines of The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear
In this continuation of the Daughters of the Mayflower, Shannon McNear places us at the centre of the American civil war. The Rebel Bride opens with our leading man, and Unionist, Joshua, being injured, taken captive and delivered into the care of our leading lady, and rebel, Pearl.
Both Pearl and Joshua have made little room in their lives to comprehend how the other side perceives the war and how similar the feelings of the two sides are as they all watch family friends and fellow soldiers suffer and die. With Christianity in common, the two build a bridge of mutual respect and kindness, as they are determined to heed God’s command to love one another.
Digging into each side of this war on a micro-scale, as it affects two people, is fascinating and moving. The hurt and fear on both sides is so similar even as the two armies fight against one another. I enjoyed how carefully and intelligently Shannon unpacks it through characters with whom it is easy to empathize. There is no right and wrong but rather a very muddy middle.
By the end of the novel, I was so curious about the history discussed, I picked up several non-fiction books and podcasts to understand it better. Having enjoyed those, I see now how well Shannon has done in creating a thoroughly riveting historical fiction which so eloquently captures the turmoil of the time.
In addition to this complex history, romance and friendship are explored. To share too much of the interesting characters introduced would be to spoil the delight of the surprise in meeting them but suffice to say it is a colourful cast! Pearl takes the cake with her spunk but I appreciated how multifaceted each person in the book is.
It is a compelling tale and I read it from start to finish in one sitting! If you love historical fiction, this is one to read! It’s a five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale and highly recommended!
From the back cover:
Can Love Form Amidst Tensions of War? During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.