Published by Lyrical Press on March 21st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Risking it all for love and valor . . .
When Corporal Sean MacBranian awakens after being injured in battle, he is sure the luck o’ the Irish has run out on him. Or that he’s died and gone to Heaven. There can be no other explanation for the blond-haired, blue-eyed angel standing before him. But his “angel” is a truehearted lass named Ashlinn, and she wears a nurse’s uniform. Her tender ministrations have brought him back from the brink of death—and have given him a new reason for living.
Ashlinn knows their parting is inevitable; her handsome hero must return to the 69th infantry of the Union army, and there are no guarantees of his safe return. With most of her family already destroyed by the war ravaging America, she is sure she cannot survive another loss. Yet she feels powerless against the draw of Sean’s strong and steady heart. Neither time nor distance nor the danger of battle seems to lessen their bond. But when their secret letters are intercepted, the devoted nurse’s love will face the ultimate test . . .
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
Honor Before Heart is the first book in the Emerald Belles series by Heather McCorkle. This author is new to me, this is the first book I have read of hers and I can categorically state that it won’t be the last!
Set in America during the civil war the action begins immediately, and from the very first sentence I was hooked.
Corporal Sean MacBranian is injured and left to die amongst hundreds of victims from both sides of the war. He hasn’t been in America long enough to lose any of his accent, and although in time he might be expected to lose it, right now it is still strong. He has a shameful secret that he makes him feel unworthy, but he hopes that by fighting the fight for the Union, and especially to help free slaves, that he can earn some respect back in his own mind. He didn’t expect to be on his deathbed quite so soon. Thankfully he is discovered by a grey Irish Wolfhound, whose owner isn’t far behind.
Ashlinn is officially a nurse in the army, but acts more as a doctor thanks to learning all she knows form her father. He was a fore-thinking man, and in a time when doctors thought more of the speed of treatment rather than the cleanliness of hands, surgical instruments etc; those lucky enough to be treated by her tended not to lose limbs or their lives. She too has her demons, one of which is the feeling that she has that her youngest brother, missing at war, might actually be a deserter. She hopes she is wrong, and she constantly searches longer than anybody else amongst the dead or injured on battlefields with the hope of finding her brother, and finding him alive. If it weren’t for spending the extra time on the field this time, and if not for her faithful wolfhound, she wouldn’t have come across Sean. His relief to not have met his maker so soon is palpable, not to mention the light hearted moment when he says that Ashlinn is a beautiful angel come to rescue him.
There starts a very emotional, beautiful, deep, relationship between the couple. In a time of war they both know that every time Sean leaves with his regiment, the 69th Infantry of the Union Army, he may not come back. Knowing that, and having lost most of her family to the war already, Ashlinn acknowledges her lustful feelings towards Sean, but fights the good fight to not let her heart get involved. She couldn’t bear to lose somebody she loves again. Sean understands, and he agrees that he would like to court her properly when the war is over and they are back in New York. They share a mutual lust for each other, but it’s so sweet, and Sean is so sweet in as much as he doesn’t want to ‘ruin’ her. They both want to give in to their attraction, but if he dies, Sean wants Ashlinn to have a chance to find somebody to marry which she wouldn’t if she wasn’t a virgin. He is a real gentleman through and through.
I absolutely adored this book, I loved the respect and all the emotions running wild between our main couple. The era the story is set and the perfection of the description of time at war, made me run the gamut of emotions. So much research must have gone into it. It is such an emotional and riveting story, I couldn’t read it quickly enough. I think it was amazing how Ashlinn was determined to practice medicine her way and how she won the loyalty and respect of the soldiers because of it. Her hound, well he deserved a medal for all the wonderful things he did, from dragging injured men to safety, to protecting Ashlinn, he was just a star in the book. I can’t think of one single thing that I didn’t like about this story and I want to write so much more, but can’t because of spoilers. I can sum up the whole book, and my feelings on it with one word though……WOW!!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.