Published by Kensington on November 28th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The Civil War has turned neighbor against neighbor--but for one scientist spy and her philosopher soldier, war could bind them together . . . For three years of the War Between the States, Marlie Lynch has helped the cause in peace: with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings in her Carolina woods, tisanes and poultices for Union prisoners, and silent aid to fleeing slave and Freeman alike. Her formerly enslaved mother's traditions and the name of a white father she never knew have protected her--until the vicious Confederate Home Guard claims Marlie's home for their new base of operations in the guerilla war against Southern resistors of the Rebel cause. Unbeknowst to those under her roof, escaped prisoner Ewan McCall is sheltering in her laboratory. Seemingly a quiet philosopher, Ewan has his own history with the cruel captain of the Home Guard, and a thoughtful but unbending strength Marlie finds irresistible. When the revelation of a stunning family secret places Marlie's freedom on the line, she and Ewan have to run for their lives into the hostile Carolina night. Following the path of the Underground Railroad, they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle that could dash their hopes of love--and freedom--before they ever cross state lines.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Marlie Lynch was born free to a white man, and a former slave, Vivienne. When she was thirteen, Vivienne sent Marlie to live with her white relatives, Marlie’s half-sister Sarah and half-brother Stephen, thinking she would be safer. Ten years later, the Civil War rages on in North Carolina, and Marlie and Sarah have made Lynchwood, the family estate, an Underground Railroad station. Ewan McCall had enlisted in the Union army and had been vegetating in Randolph Prison until the opportunity to escape presents itself. Ewan and Marlie had met while he was in prison; Marlie was bringing books to the convicts, and she and Ewan had exchanged ideas on books and philosophy. Ewan thought Marlie the loveliest woman he had ever met, regardless of her skin colour. After Ewan’s break out, it turns out that his hiding place is Lynchwood, where he will have to stay for a while, in the same home as Marlie, until the fateful day when his mortal enemy, Captain Cahill, requisitions Lynchwood for the Confederates.
A HOPE DIVIDED is much more than a romance, as it is also quite educational. Ms. Cole’s research pays off as the War Between the States comes alive on the page, as it touched the lives of ordinary people. The author has also done her homework on herbal medicine, and she also obviously knows her philosophy. The only hiccup consisted of the few sentences written in atrocious French, which I hope will be corrected in the final version of the book. In view of the political situation – and race relations – the romance between Ewan and Marlie goes surprisingly smoothly, the hurdles consisting mostly of the parts they both play in the game, as both Marlie and Ewan work against the Confederacy, as well as being out of the public eye for the most part and their interacting mainly with escaped slaves and Freemen.
The events leading to Ewan and Marlie fleeing Lynchwood are pretty terrifying and give another outlook on the Civil War, and this is really the moment when their budding romance is challenged. I wonder if their romance will continue in subsequent instalments, because as far as their love story goes, A HOPE DIVIDED covers merely the beginning, in my opinion, as their love as a mixed race couple will surely be tested. I felt the romance progressed realistically, the doubts they experienced were logical even though Marlie was stubborn at times, although it was understandable. A HOPE DIVIDED is beautifully written, flows very well, and although it is the second book in the series, can easily be read as a standalone, as I didn’t feel I had missed anything of import. A HOPE DIVIDED presents a lovely and unusual romance in what feels like an accurate portrait of a difficult era in American history.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.