Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

by Sandra Merville Hart

A Newbery Honor Book

Jethro Creighton is nine when the War Between the States begins. As the youngest, he listens as his older brothers plan to join the fighting. They’re excitement is contagious, yet the older folks are concerned.

Folks who live in Illinois where Jethro’s family farms for a living are for the Union. All except one brother supports the Union. Jethro is closest to Bill, his quiet brother. Though Bill can’t abide slavery, he doesn’t feel right about telling the Southerners how to live. It divides the family.

There is tragedy, danger, and hardship for the young boy to overcome in this compelling story.

I couldn’t put the book down. The struggles of the characters tugged at my heart. I understand why this well-written story of how one family endured the heartaches of a war that seemed never-ending won the Newbery Honor Award.  

I loved the history of this book. It gives an overview of the Civil War from April of 1861 to April of 1865, when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

An overview of the main events of the war is woven into the story through the eyes of a young boy who must grow up too soon.

As an author of historical novels set in American history, I enjoyed learning details of everyday farm life in the 1860s.

Recommend for children 9 to 14. Also recommended for lovers of American history and those who enjoy novels set during the Civil War.


Announcing an Upcoming Civil War Book Release!

I’m thrilled to announce that Avenue of Betrayal, Book 1 of my new “Spies of the Civil War” series will release February 8, 2022! Not only that, it’s already on preorder!

Though the series is about a fictional family, there are actual historical spies who touch the stories.

Avenue of Betrayal is set in Washington City (Washington DC) in 1861, where a surprising number of Confederate sympathizers and spies live.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Betrayed by her brother and the man she loves …

whom can she trust when tragedy strikes?

Soldiers are pouring into Washington City every day and have begun drilling in preparation for a battle with the Confederacy. Annie Swanson worries for her brother, whom she’s just discovered is a Confederate officer in his new home state of North Carolina. Even as Annie battles feelings of betrayal toward the big brother she’s always adored, her wealthy banker father swears her and her sister to secrecy about her brother’s actions. How could he forsake their mother’s abolitionist teachings?

Sergeant-Major John Finn camps within a mile of the Swansons’ mansion where his West Point pal once lived. Sweet Annie captured his heart at Will’s wedding last year and he looks forward to reestablishing their relationship—until he’s asked to spy on her father.

To prove her father’s loyalty to the Union, John agrees to spy on the Swanson family, though Annie must never know. Then the war strikes a blow that threatens to destroy them all—including the love that’s grown between them against all odds.

Preorder your copy today on Amazon and other retailers.

The Widow of Rose Hill by Michelle Shocklee

Book 2 of The Women of Rose Hill Series

The weight of running a plantation after the deaths of her husband and father-in-law is hard enough for Natalie Ellis without Union troops arriving on the doorstep of her Texas plantation. Not only does Colonel Levi Maish bring news that the war has ended, but also that the Confederates lost.

Levi takes pleasure in hearing the plantation owners read the proclamation that frees the slaves. The widow’s beauty and spirit can’t change the joy that spreads throughout the crowd. Though she offers them a job, most of them pack and leave within minutes.

Everything changes in an instant for Natalie and her young son. She adapts and even begins to change her mind about the handsome colonel who seems to want to help.

This honest, gripping story deals with the difficulties faced by Southerners and abolitionist Northerners as well as formerly enslaved people.

Well-written. Poignant. Tragic. Believable characters that pull readers along a difficult journey with them.

I’ll look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Civil War Novel Turns 1!

I am thrilled that my third Civil War romance, A Musket in My Hands, has its first anniversary this month!

The novel is 2019 Serious Writer Medal Fiction Winner and a 2019 Selah Awards Finalist.

Two sisters have no choices left. Callie and Louisa disguise themselves as men to join the men they love and muster into the Confederate army. It’s the fall of 1864 and the situation worsens for Southerners as they march closer to the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.

This month is also the 155th anniversary of the tragic Tennessee battle that claimed so many lives. The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864. The fierce fighting was over within hours but left thousands dead and wounded. Six Southern generals were killed, including General Patrick Cleburne, and others wounded–losses the South could not recover from.

The sisters in our story find themselves in the thick of this battle. No one can emerge from such an event unchanged.

I’d love to know what you think of the story!

Announcing Sandra Merville Hart’s next Civil War Romance Release!

Releasing November 8th!

Two sisters disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864 to join the men they love. But the situation grows desperate for Hood’s Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Franklin.


“Can I count on you in times of great need?”

 Callie Jennings reels from her pa’s decision that she must marry his friend, a man older than him. Her heart belongs to her soldier hero, Zach Pearson, but Pa won’t change his mind. Callie has no place to hide. Then her sister, Louisa, proposes a shocking alternative.

Zach still hears his pa’s scornful word—quitter. He’s determined to make something of himself as a soldier. He’ll serve the Confederacy until they win the war. If they win the war.

Callie and Louisa disguise themselves as soldiers and muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864. Times are tough and getting tougher for their Confederacy. For Callie, shooting anyone, especially former countrymen, is out of the question—until truth and love and honor come together on the battlefield.

Endorsement for A Musket in My Hands:

 I don’t always read Civil War novels, because I’m not into graphic battle scenes. Sandra Merville Hart’s A Musket in My Hands is a wonderful book. The characters grab your heart right from the beginning and they take you through a unique story line right into battles, where I followed willingly. The book isn’t battle-driven. It’s character driven, and the reader becomes intimately acquainted with these people who had to face things they never dreamed about happening. This is my favorite Civil War novel. I highly recommend it.

Lena Nelson Dooley – bestselling, multiple-award-winning author of Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides.

A Musket in My Hands releases November 8th by Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas!

Available for Preorder on Amazon!