Clingstone by Marti Ziegler

A Civil War romance unlike any other you may have read before.

What’s it About? 

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What if you were counted among hundreds of civilians wrongly charged with treason? Creighton Branagan is one of the few men still residing in the mill village of Roswell, Georgia, at the closing stages of the American Civil War. His deafness excludes him from military service and condemns him as an outcast.

Mae Parrish’s dissatisfaction extends to a life of too much work and too little joy. She forms a wary alliance with Creighton when they are included among hundreds of southern textile workers arrested for treason and deported to northern prisons under Federal guard. Their crime: manufacturing Confederate uniforms.

Clingstone chronicles their arduous journey by wagon and train, followed by an emotional internment rife with privations and disease. It is during the course of these hardships that their resilience is repeatedly tested, and their pact of survival deepens into a steadfast love that withstands even the deepest self-inflicted wounds of war.

First Impressions

When it comes to Civil War romances, you can’t help but draw to mind one of the most well-known of all time, Gone with the Wind. What I absolutely loved about this novel was that it’s about as far removed from Gone with the Wind as you can get. Instead of a high-class lady for a heroine, we have a lowly mill worker who isn’t a virgin, or afraid to speak her mind. Instead of a suave and debonair male lead, we have a deaf man who cares for his ill-mannered nephew as his ward. And yet, our characters are unbelievably dynamic, and like Gone with the Wind, we see how all their lives are affected and worsened by the ravages of war. However, in the end it also this terrible war that brings them all together.

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Travels and Travails

This novel takes us on an unbelievable journey, where we see our lead characters start off as enemies in a southern mill, but grow closer as they are sent north with their fellow mill workers to a prison for producing Confederate uniforms. It was amazing to see these characters start to rely on one another throughout all of their difficulties. No matter what troubles they encountered, they could always find their way to each other again.

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I personally found Mae to be an extremely unique, yet complicated female lead. I’m not gonna lie, when the novel begins, you kind of dislike her. In a word, she’s basically a brat. She joins a friend of hers to pull an unkind prank on the deaf Creighton. She whines and complains, yet we quickly discover that she’s a strong character who’s had to adapt because she’s been on her own for so long. Mae has built up a tough exterior to survive, but it is Creighton and his unruly nephew, Owen, who let her connect and trust others again.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? Yes! I absolutely love Mae’s relationship with both Creighton and his nephew. They all have this bickering and bantering exchange on the surface, yet underneath you can see how much they all care about each other. They are an unlikely, yet loving family.

Smut Level: Their banter turns into flirtation, which eventually turns into something more intimate. A few scenes in particular are utterly delectable.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 383 Pages.

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The Soldier’s Secret by Heather Osborne

This was definitely a unique approach to a Civil War era romance. On the one hand, it is similar to Gone with the Wind in that the story mainly focuses on a female heroine. And yet, we are also witness to a woman’s first-hand account of the grisly carnage related to war.

What’s it About? 

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A picture of pure shock and curiosity, Emma placed her empty glass down, “Surely, you are not suggesting I dress as a man and enlist in the Union Army!”. “That is precisely what I am suggesting.” In an era when women are adornments, Northerner Emma Mansfield finds it challenging to fit the mold. It becomes an impossible task when her country is torn apart by civil war. Knowing she must take action, Emma finds herself in the midst of danger and intrigue when she takes up the guise of a young artillery soldier for the Union Army. Desperately trying to find out if her two brothers are alive, Emma must maintain her anonymity as she fights for survival.

First Impressions

While Emma’s bravery to disguise her appearance to go and fight on the front lines is commendable, her motivation for doing so was questionable. Her brother Will is fighting for the Union Army, while her younger brother Harrison has shamed the family by running off to join the Confederacy in order to fight for some cause, whether he believes in it or not. Emma and her family haven’t heard word from either brother in a long time, which is what pushes her to enlist.

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It wasn’t that she was fighting to stand behind her beliefs, or even that she was a Mulan-type character stepping in to take the place of a family member in the war. She just wanted information. Now, I understand the desire to find out what has happened to your loved ones, but couldn’t she have just become a nurse or something? It seemed a little foolish to me for her to put herself in such unnecessary danger.

It Keeps You Guessing

One thing that this book definitely has going for it is that it’s far from predictable. The majority of the story takes place in 1863, which means that the war is far from over, and you are kept guessing who will make it out alive in the end. Sadly, not all of the main players in this saga do make it out alive. But unfortunately that is the tragic reality of war which the novel brings to the forefront. The Civil War is often described as the war which divided families, and pitted brother against brother. This novel highlights the harshness of those statements.

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The book is an interesting mix of historical detail, deathly grudges, and untimely romance. Before enlisting, Emma falls for a handsome doctor, Colin, who is also sent to the front lines. When Emma finally joins the troops disguised as a young soldier, it isn’t long before Colin and her brother Will discover her true identity. To avoid further discovery from people higher up in the Army, as well as an evil Colonel with a seemingly unexplainable grudge against Emma, she and Colin run away into the wilderness. This is when the story takes on another level of suspense, as the loving couple desperately tries to hide out in the woods and avoid capture until this terrible war comes to an end.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-Alone

Should you read it? The writing was rather simplistic at times, but it’s a story which will hold your interest, and would probably be a good, short read for all of you history buffs out there who don’t have time to read all of Gone with the Wind. 

Smut Level: There are a few sex scenes throughout the book, but they are all very tame. One scene though happens before Emma and Colin are married, which is oh so scandalous.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 194 Pages.