Romance on the River by Mary Ellis

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Romance on the River by Mary Ellis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Emily, a young Quaker woman, has a lot to handle while running her family’s farm on her own, not to mention her duty as the mistress of a safe house along the Underground Railroad. It may or may not be too soon for Emily to anticipate a marriage proposal from a young farmer nearby, but besides that, war in her country and news regarding her farm may plunge her into a future she isn’t ready for in Romance on the River by author Mary Ellis.

Now, despite the title, I wouldn’t call this short read a romance. The focus of this prequel isn’t centered on Emily’s relationship with the farmer she loves but rather on Emily’s overall situation as an orphan who’s suddenly had the weight of so much responsibility placed on her shoulders while war has broken out in the country.

Even though the circumstances are dire (even more dire than the characters could know, as the Civil War has only just begun), the read makes a little room for comedy, and there’s sass in Emily’s sense of humor. And I appreciate her conviction that no matter how “well” some masters treat the enslaved people in their charge, the institution of slavery itself is still “an abomination.”

This prequel isn’t a short story so much as its a prelude to a story. There’s no resolve to this layered and intriguing setup—a setup for the novel that follows. I’m not ashamed to say that if I’d first come across the cover of the novel, The Quaker and the Rebel, I would have skipped right over it, as there’s nothing about a man in a Confederate soldier uniform that attracts me, particularly if the image is made to look romantic.

But now being familiar with who Emily is (and hearing that the hero in the following story isn’t what he seems), I might check the novel out sometime.


The Civil War Heroines Series


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