Friday, December 11, 2009

Dawn's Early Light: Volume Three of Free Men and Dreamers by L.C. Lewis--Book Review


I love American history. And I love good historical fiction with a dash of romance. I'm a little particular because I don't care for books that give me so much detail that I feel as though I've learned the history of dirt while the author merely tells a story around a ton of research. So with a little trepidation I picked up L.C. Lewis's new novel Dawn's Early Light: Volume Three of Free Men and Dreamers. My concerns were quickly evaporated as this book delivers a great story with just the right blend of historical facts!

Here's the back liner of Lewis's new book.

In the spring of 1814, a temporary calm settles along the Patuxent. While the British Navy skulks in the Chesapeake Bay, the Willows families and their neighbors enjoy a brief season of peace.

That is until Napoleon is subdued. Britain's navy re-enters the Patuxent and now prepares to loose her triumphant European conquerors on America, even as peace negotiations commence in Belgium. But weeks of relentless British attacks along the waterfront soften the will of the American Militia and citizenry, leaving the voracious British military confident that victory is within their grasp. And their primary target? Washington.

While attentions turn to the defense of the Capital, Sebastian Dupree and his band of mercenaries strike the Willows. Not everyone survives, despite former enemies becoming allies, fighting side-by-side with the Willows' freed slaves to defend their homes and families.

Mere miles away, the Capital lies in peril, its defense now resting primarily upon citizen soldiers like Jed Pearson, and a most unlikely naval force--Commodore Joshua Barney's rag-tag fleet of barges called the Chesapeake flotilla--and the courage of Markus O'Malley and the other men who built it.

But Britain's house is also divided over the war, and as the cost mounts in blood and money rifts widen in her families and government, wearying the mind of the Earl of Whittington and threatening to destroy Arthur Ramsey.

Experience the pain and passion of five families--American, slave and British--as they endure three of the darkest days in American history--the week Washington burned.

Now what did I really think of the novel? From page one I was hooked. Lewis has the ability to write wonderfully well-rounded characters who become living, breathing people in your mind. I came to understand the motivation behind Britain's need to go to war and felt sorry for the Earl of Whittington. I'll never forget his dream of cradles turned to coffins and the sorrow the man held in his heart for the lose of most of his family.

I also felt the love between Jed Pearson and his wife, Hannah. I understood how the love she felt for her husband could temporarily make her want him to run away and not fight. I also understood Jed's need to stay, knowing that he would never find rest if he didn't fight for the home he loved and the people who meant so very much to him. I felt as though I was with Hannah as she sat on the "worry porch" waiting for her husband to come home. The scene reminded me of the many times I've waited for a loved one and how often I've looked out the window praying all was well.

Lewis's use of fictional characters to show readers the trials and tribulations of the historic events of America is masterfully done. It certainly made this reader more appreciative for those who gave so much to keep our nation free.

If you're worried that buying the third volume in the series would make it hard to understand what is going on, don't be. Lewis again shows her masterful writing talent and feeds pertinent information to you in a very subtle way making it part of the story line. BUT if you don't like only having one book of a series, by all means pick up her other two books: Twilight's Last Gleaming and Dark Sky At Dawn.

The books can be bought online at Amazon.com, Seagull Book, Deseret Book, and other retailers. For more information about Lewis and her novels visit her website: http://www.laurielclewis.com/.

(Note: A copy of Dawn's Early Light was provided to me free of charge so I could do this review.)

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