I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.For the Brave by Holly Bush
Series: The Gentrys of Paradise #1
Published by Holly Bush Books on May 16, 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Source: the Author
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1869 – Matthew Gentry joined the Confederate Army at eighteen years of age after an argument with his father, leaving Paradise, his Virginia home and famed horse breeding stables, for the fields of Gettysburg. Having survived the War Between the States, Gentry is haunted by the violence and inhumanity of the war. He continues to roam the country long after the conflict is over, finding solace in the arms of soiled doves and at the bottom of whiskey bottles. Finally traveling home after learning of a family tragedy, he nearly loses his life in a spring-flooded riverbed.
Annie Campbell, lone survivor of her family, lives at a remote farm near the North River, raising pigs and trying to grow enough to feed herself, and to stay out of the cross hairs of the Thurmans, violent men who run the town of Bridgewater. Annie’s secrets threaten her safety, even as she rescues and nurses Matthew Gentry.
Matthew knows he must return to Paradise, to grieve with his family. Will his heart lead him back to Bridgewater and Annie Campbell?
Matthew (Matt) Gentry left home at 18-years old, angry with his father, and promptly joined the Confederate Army. Six years later, the war is over and a disillusioned Matt has drifted aimlessly for two years through a haze of whiskey and women until he’s called home. However, on the return, he and his family’s emissary get caught in the aftermath of rains and a swollen river and are discovered near death by Annie Campbell. She’s living alone in the outskirts of Bridgewater, Virginia, a tragic figure in her own right and her life is forever altered when she decides to come to Matt’s aid.
I was riveted by this story from the onset. On the surface, Matt seemed self indulgent and adrift. As his story is revealed, I found him to be a man of substance, tormented by the ravages of war. Annie’s story is a bit murkier but the tension begins the moment she lands on the page. She’s tough and resourceful but I feared for her at just about every moment, with absolute justification. I was just as enthralled with her developing relationship with Matt.
Annie and Matt’s journeys, together and individually, were compelling. The historical backdrop also offered unique insights into post-war realities and its toll on the men who served on both sides. Bush doesn’t try to lighten the situations for purposes of a happy ending, which is her signature. I had reason to be fearful throughout the story and it just made it an outstanding tale.
I loved this story and am excited about this series. The introductory novella (see the story Into the Evermore in the anthology Christmas in America) set this one up perfectly. While it helped to introduce Matt’s parents, it’s not essential to be read before this one. However, I highly recommend it before or after as it is really, really good.