The Spy of the Rebellion by Allan Pinkerton

by Sandra Merville Hart

Being A True History of the Spy System of the United States Army During the Late Rebellion

Allan Pinkerton had established the Pinkerton National Detective Agency before the Civil War. General George McClellan hired Pinkerton, who used his detectives to spy on the Confederates.

This book reads like a fiction novel. The book was published in 1883, and Pinkerton’s formal ties to the United States Secret Service ended in 1862. Pinkerton also admits that most of his records were burned in the Great Chicago Fire and he wrote the book from memory. The passage of 21 years since the events as well as the loss of precious written records led to some inconsistencies.

I read this to research Pinkerton’s agency for a novel I’m writing. Subsequent research from nonfiction sources have referenced Pinkerton’s The Spy of the Rebellion as part fiction. I’ve learned from other sources which provide specific names and dates not to trust all the details in this book.

Either way, I must say that this is a fascinating story that I couldn’t put down. The author tells an enthralling story. It’s true to the language, customs, and beliefs of the period and is well worth the read.

On Cue by Bettie Boswell

Elementary school teacher Ginny Cline has written a musical set in her city and hopes to raise money for the local historical museum.

Professor Scott Hallmark’s experience in the theater makes him the perfect person to help Ginny with this massive undertaking, but she can’t trust him. James, her college sweetheart, had broken her heart by betraying her and she’d learned she can’t trust men. She won’t give Scott a chance to repeat the past.

In this light-hearted novel, the two of them overcome their differences for the good of the play … and the romance that’s growing.

The characters were likeable. The action sometimes dragged a bit, but I still enjoyed this inspirational story.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Widow’s Weeds and Weeping Veils, Revised, by Bernadette Loeffel-Atkins

An interesting book!

The author has included fascinating traditions about mourning the death of loved ones during the nineteenth century.

For instance, locks of hair from the deceased family member were often woven into pictures and paintings or used in needlework samplers. Birds, angels, flowers, and weeping willows were some of the symbolic images portrayed.

The book also shows that the traditional period of time to wear mourning clothes or “widow’s weeds” depended on one’s relationship to the deceased.

I also was fascinated to learn that images depicted on gravestones hold symbolic meaning. An image of dog meant courage, vigilance, and loyalty. Calla lilies were symbolic of marriage.

Definitely recommend for lovers of history and authors of historical novels!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Marriage Conversations by Cathy Krafve

From Co-existing to Cherished

What a wonderful book about communicating in marriage relationships!

Krafve compassionately tackles tough topics in her book such as divorce, abortion, pornography, self-worth, and the definition of marriage. She writes specifically to women yet men will also benefit from reading the book.

Krafve ends each chapter with thought-provoking sections geared to shift readers’ focus to their own situation: Understanding your needs, Identifying your worth, and Envisioning your future. I was touched by the prayers she has written for her readers at the end of every chapter.

I love the honesty in which the author shares examples from her own family to illustrate her points. Gems of wisdom are sprinkled throughout the book. Insightful advice on how to make small changes to improve communication makes it a great learning book.

I highly recommend this book to married and engaged couples seeking to improve their communication skills.

-Sandra Merville Hart


A Rifle by the Door by Dan L. Fuller

What a great book!

Twelve-year-old Dave Foster is proud of the way his pa stands up to the men threatening him when he refuses to sell their ranch. Then his pa is shot in the back, leaving him and his older sister, Jenny, to face the future alone. They know nothing about surviving Colorado’s brutal winters. Jenny worries they’ll starve.

Help arrives when John Beck, an old friend of their father’s, comes to the ranch. Jenny isn’t certain they can trust the tough man who knows how to fight and handle a gun, but Dave figures they need him.

I love the characters in this book. John is complex, courageous, and keeps to himself. He’s as believable as the brave boy who finds himself in an impossible situation. Jenny is a Christian, and is as spunky as she is beautiful.

Told from the boy’s perspective, this story is filled with one adventure after another … as well as tragedy.

If you love Westerns, you will enjoy this story.

Definitely recommend! I will look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows by Burton W. Cole

Beamer stays at his aunt’s farm for a week and Bash, his adventurous cousin, is full of schemes. This just happens to be the week of April Fool’s Day. Bash doesn’t just plan tricks for the actual day and Beamer joins in on some of the planning.

One crazy prank follows the next as the boys and some neighborhood friends edge closer to their biggest trick of all—getting chocolate milk from cows on the farm!

I have to confess that snagged my attention, even as an adult. How were they going to pull off that trick?

This is a fun novel for elementary children.

One of the grils is thinking about getting baptized as the story talks about in the Farmin’ and Fishin’ Book (other folks call it a Bible) and it starts Beamer to thinking about it too.

The book is geared to children 8 – 12. As a chapter book, it also is a great book for parents to read to their children at bedtime.

I will look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Three Little Things by Patti Stockdale

Hatti Waltz comes to town to cheer for and say goodbye to local soldiers. It’s 1917, and Arno Kreger is one of the brave men heading for boot camp. She wishes she could forget him as easily as it seems he forgot her.

Arno wants to carry Hatti’s promise to write him. He wants to court her but her father doesn’t like him. He’s been warned away.

The war in Europe is against the Germans. Arno, an American with a German heritage, doesn’t have an easy time with fellow soldiers. His fists have landed him in trouble in the past, but that’s not the way to win Hatti’s heart.

This story highlights the conflict German-American soldiers faced on the home front and the power of letters to connect two hearts that long for one another.

The characters are believable with plenty of surprising twists that are true to the time. What intrigued me most was learning that the story is loosely set on the author’s grandparents.

A good book for lovers of American history and World War I.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Southern Gentleman by Yvonne Lehman

Book 2 of Finding Love in the Low Country series

Norah Brown just lost her sister in a tragic accident that also claimed the life of her sister’s boyfriend. Grief for both of them pales in comparison for their infant daughter, who must now grow up without them. Norah vows to take care of sweet Camille as she has done since the baby was born three months ago.

Thornton Winter lost his brother in the accident and he’s not about to shirk his duty to the niece he learned of as his brother lay dying. The beautiful Norah isn’t the type of woman his brother typically dated. No matter. He takes both of them into his home until custody is awarded.

Sparks fly as neither wants to give up Camille. Thornton believes Norah is the baby’s mother … why not allow him to keep believing it?

This story is tragic because of the real needs for the care of a little baby who will grow up not knowing her biological parents. It’s also thought-provoking, as both families want to raise her.

The characters are believable and likeable. There are twists and turns that kept me turning pages.

I’ve read other books by this author and she’s become one of my favorites.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Traces by Denise Weimer

Kate Carson has been invited to compete in a reality TV show where she and a partner will evade the show’s hunters for days. Her company, which recently installed a surveillance camera in Atlanta, encourages her to participate for the publicity. A breakup with her boyfriend prompts her agreement. Also, her brother will be her partner. First, she has some information about shady dealings at her job for a reporter friend to investigate.

Alex Mitchell works at the same company but he barely knows her when the reality show pairs them up to go on the run together. The ex-military man is determined to win the prize money and has little patience for Kate’s decision to back out before the game begins.

But the greatest danger they face isn’t from the game …

This fast-paced story kept me turning pages. The characters were likeable but Kate’s refusal to see the mounting danger frustrated me. Her choices escalate the danger.

Suspenseful! The growing romance along with plenty of twists and turns held my interest. This one cost me some sleep as I had to stay up late to find out what happened.

I’ll look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Death of an Imposter by Deborah Sprinkle

Bernie Santos never expected to begin a murder investigation her first week as detective. After all, this was the quiet community of Pleasant Valley. Nor did she expect to meet a handsome doctor. Bad things seem to happen around him. Is it a coincidence?

Dr. Daniel O’Leary comes to town to help his aunt with autopsies—at least that’s his story. He’s really an undercover FBI agent working on a case. He doesn’t expect to fall in love with the police detective who suspects him.

This story grabbed my attention and held on. Suspenseful. Fast-paced. Action-packed. Real, believable characters. I had no idea of the killer’s identity until just before the detectives discovered it.

This book was a page turner for me. I recommend this book to those who love action-packed romantic suspense novels.

I’ll look for more books by this author!

-Sandra Merville Hart