A HOPE DIVIDED - Alyssa Cole
REVIEWER: Brenda Larnell| RATING: A
REVIEW: Author Alyssa Cole sets her Historical Romance during the Civil War. The year is 1863 and this intriguing story starts in North Carolina where the hero, Ewan McCall, is in prison for his opposition against the Confederacy. However, unlike the men there, Ewan is not a regular prisoner, but a philosophy reading, French translating interrogator for the Union cause. He is indeed a complex individual living during complex times. His counterpoint and heroine of this story is Marlie Lynch, a woman of color, who during this divided period in US history, not only lives freely at Lynchwood, the home of her white father, but also actively works as a member of the Loyal League, “a group of Negroes and others dedicated to helping preserve the Union”. In addition to being a spy, Marli is also gifted as a healer. She learned the healing benefits of medicinal herbs from her mother, Vivienne who sent her to Lynchwood to have a “better” life. Marli’s relationship with her father’s side of the family is complicated and a reflection of this period in history.
Intricate relationships, strange alliances, and unusual circumstances are issues that drive the storyline, and characters in this book. Kudos to author Cole who presents a fascinating, fresh and factual view of the Civil War. In A HOPE DIVIDED we encounter white Southerners who diligently fight against the Confederacy and its movement to succeed from the United States. One such character is Sarah Lynch, a Southern Belle, who is also a Unionist and Marli’s aunt. While Marli is actively involved in bringing down the Confederate cause, Sarah is also doing her part.
Marli first meets Ewan while he is in prison, and as fate would have it, he eventually ends up hiding at Lynchwood where their relationship, in spite of the chaos around them, flourishes. Lynchwood, the epitome of a Southern plantation, is paradoxically a haven for runaway slaves, abolitionists, and anybody who is down for the Union cause. That is, until Confederate sympathizer and supporter, Melody Lynch, Sarah’s sister-in-law, and Sarah’s brother, Stephen, are forced to leave their home in Mississippi to take up residence at Lynchwood. Life at Lynchwood takes a turn for the worse, because not only does Melody bring her “the South will rise again” beliefs, she also invites the notorious Cahill, a leader of the Home Guard to make Lynchwood his headquarters. The ruthless Cahill’s chief purpose in life is to destroy all draft dodgers, ‘skulkers’, runaway slaves and Unionists. Life at Lynchwood becomes convoluted, volatile and no longer a safe place for Marli to live. Subsequently, Marli and Ewan escape. I’ll stop here, and allow you to follow the harrowing adventures of Marli and Ewan. It’s a page turner.
A HOPE DIVIDED is an impressive, well-written novel that successfully blends historical facts, romance, intrigue and unforgettable characters. I highly recommend it because not only is it an entertaining story, but it also has great educational value. Get the book; you can thank me later.