As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.
One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages—a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.
As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.
Part of the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.
My take: In The Courier of Caswell Hall, Melanie Dobson takes the reader into the Revolutionary War. In the acknowledgements at the back, she thanks a friend for reminding her when the story needed to be "felt" as well as told—and she certainly accomplished it! In the opening pages, set at the 50th Anniversary celebration for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, this novel comes alive. I was pulled completely into the story ... even though I knew the Patriots would come out on top, I still worried about the outcome!
As a born and bred American, I've always believed the colonists were right to fight for freedom. After reading this novelization of the Revolutionary War, my opinion is only strengthened. I felt like I was at Caswell Hall while the British soldiers wreaked havoc on the surrounding community, with Sarah as she risked her life to save men held captive by the British, and hiding out with Nathan as he longed to deliver an urgent message. Dobson does a wonderful job of pulling the reader directly into the action.
I also appreciated the historical details included. For example, one of the characters becomes diabetic, which was an automatic death sentence in the 1700s. As someone with an extensive family history of diabetes, I'm so thankful for modern medicine! My dad has lived more than 40 years as a diabetic; the character in this novel lived only a short time following the diagnosis. I had never before taken time to consider how diseases we just live with today would have been a death sentence in the past.
I enjoyed The Courier of Caswell Hall more than I expected to—more than I've enjoyed a book in quite a while. A word of caution, though: read with a box of Kleenex nearby! (And, preferably, don't read it in a room full of teenagers. I made the mistake of reading the last quarter while monitoring a study hall. I don't think any of the students noticed my tears!)
My rating: 5 stars
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Read my reviews of Dobson's Where the Trail Ends (also part of the American Tapestries series), Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan, and Refuge on Crescent Hill.
Connect with Melanie at http://melaniedobson.com.
About the giveaway: Melanie Dobson's latest release, The Courier of Caswell Hall, is a riveting story you won't want to miss. The newest offering in the American Tapestries™ series, it follows an unlikely spy who discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."