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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"The Courier of Caswell Hall" by Melanie Dobson

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.

This is the best historical fiction I've read since the last time I've read a Melanie Dobson novel.  There's just something about this author who is able to transport me completely to whatever time and place she chooses.  Her unique perspective helps to set her books apart from others; The Courier of Caswell Hall focuses on the many roles women played in the Revolutionary War - and I don't mean from inside their kitchens, either.

I loved Lydia's story.  I can't imagine just how scary it must have been, knowing that to choose a side and lose, all principles aside, could mean the loss of your family's security and social standing - things which mean little eternally but which can mean a great deal as you live through their loss.  I feel as if I can relate just a tiny bit more now for having read this story.

Lydia's wasn't the only fascinating one here, however.  I've always been interested in the role of women in early American wars since reading about Deborah Sampson as a kid, and Dobson included many such stories discreetly throughout this book.  It is fascinating to know that there were women, people who society completely ignored militarily, who felt so strong as to step out in courageous ways to fight for their country.

The Courier of Caswell Hall has found its way onto my bookshelf.  My children will be reading this when they're older and studying the Revolution - not only to put themselves into the position of choosing which side to take, but also to use as a research starter - to take the details of this story and go find which ones are true.

I'd like to know that myself.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Melanie Dobson is the author of twelve novels; her writing has received numerous accolades including two Carol Awards. Melanie worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full-time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides with her husband and two daughters in Oregon.

Connect with Melanie at:

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

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