A Heart on Hold by Sara Barnard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am a romance junkie, and Sara Barnard’s historical romance set during the Civil War satisfied my addiction. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a romance set during this time in America’s history. A Heart on Hold was a very enjoyable read from cover to cover. The pacing of the book was just right, juxtaposing suspenseful situations with sweet moments of romance. Ms. Barnard has a smooth narrative voice that is easy to read. The author adds just enough descriptive details to give the reader a good idea of living and loving in a war torn country.
On the brink of the Civil War, Sanderson returns to Arkansas from the east and pledges to marry his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte. Before they can arrange their wedding, the country is embroiled in a Civil War. Sanderson leaves with his regiment only to return home nearly dead from pneumonia. Charlotte nurses him back to health, and the two are married before he returns to the front lines. When Sanderson is captured and imprisoned at the prisoner of war camp in Alton, Illinois, Charlotte packs a few provisions and heads north to find him. The book relates her adventures and misadventures on her journey to find him, as well Sanderson’s adventures and misadventures in escaping from the prison camp.
The narrative is filled with secondary characters Ms. Barnard weaves in and out of the story line, giving the book texture and interest. From Sanderson’s brother Jackson who enlisted in the Union army to the band of traveling gypsies hired as healers at the prison camp to the Irish noble woman wandering around in the woods to the encounter with Harriet Tubman in an isolated area of Arkansas to the mixed race boy who can’t find his place in the white or Indian community, the author presents a group of memorable characters.
But it was the two main characters, Charlotte and Sanderson, I found myself cheering onward. I felt Charlotte’s joys and fears, her longing for her beloved Sanderson, and especially her determination to find him even when looking for him seemed hopeless. I experienced the prisoner of war camp right along with Sanderson. The relationship between the two brothers, Sanderson and Jackson, was touching. The author wrote compassion and humanity in their personalities, something I often find missing in the typical alpha male romance hero. This book as a stand alone truly has a happily ever after ending. But there are two more books in this series, so I’m very interested to know what happens to Charlotte and Sanderson after the end of the war. I would recommend A Heart on Hold to lovers of the historical romance genre.
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