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The Courier of Caswell Hall (American…
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The Courier of Caswell Hall (American Tapestries series) (American…

by Melanie Dobson

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256661,882 (4.5)None
As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted. One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages -- a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires. As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.… (more)

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Standalone novel The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson is the fifth book in the American Tapestries line, a series that sets romance against the backdrop of epic moments in American history. This is an extremely well-written and moving novel, one that I highly recommend.

I've enjoyed books by Melanie before, so I was expecting this to be another great read, but I was surprised at the depth of characterization, historical detail, and emotion found within its pages. The Courier of Caswell Hall is an interesting and moving read that captured and held my attention from the first page, but it's not a light read. Yes, it's a beautiful and touching romance, but Nathan and Lydia's love story is secondary to the themes of divided loyalties, courage, deceit, sacrifice, and the realities of war.

The story opens with a prologue that sets up all that happened 45 years earlier, beginning in 1781 on the banks of the James River and the Caswell Plantation, when Lydia risks all to rescue an injured Patriot courier who will only reveal his first name, Nathan. Lydia knows that "right and wrong can be muddied during a war" . . . and Nathan sees Lydia as "a beautiful young woman with a penchant to heal what had been destroyed and to help those who had been wounded."

Melanie brings women's roles during the war to the forefront through the courageous actions of Lydia and Sarah. Though the methods associated with their spying might seem rather innocent - listening to conversations, memorizing details, retrieving notes from behind bricks and passing them through the exchange of books - the penalty if caught was unthinkable.

It was a time when, rather than people being united against a common enemy, families and neighbors were divided and no one knew who to trust. Lydia's brother, Grayson, realized that the British "had no love of freedom, no hope for the future; they just wanted to stop those who did."

And freedom certainly had different meanings, depending which side you were on. Men like Nathan, who refused to ever use slaves, were rare at this time. The Patriots fought to be free from a king's tyranny, while keeping slaves in submission - and the British granted freedom to slaves willing to fight with them, while denying Americans theirs. Nathan reflected: "It was a strange world. The Americans purported freedom for some men while the British talked only of freedom for the Negro slaves."

In The Courier of Caswell Hall, Melanie has created a superb blend of rich characterization, great storytelling, and historical detail. This is a moving story that I highly recommend to all readers.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Summerside Press in exchange for my honest review. ( )
  PianoLady831 | Oct 19, 2013 |
I loved this book! I love it when a story reaches out and grabs my attention from the very first pages! The Prologue sets the scene and makes you want to know the whole story. I really enjoyed the history that filled the story. This story was set in 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. I guess I never thought about those living in the colonies that were loyal to the King, and how they would of felt about the Rebels. Being an American and proud of our independence, I only ever thought about all that the Rebels went through to throw off the bondage of Great Britain. It's always interesting to read a story set during a familiar time in history as it makes that time period come alive. So if you're looking for a great historical fiction book that is filled with excitement, mystery and a little romance, then this is the book for you!

** I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinons are my own. ( )
  MandaT | Oct 15, 2013 |
This book was one of those I was excited to order since I really liked "Queen of the Waves" which was the first American Tapestries book that I read in this series. I Loved that book! Then I received the book and I just didn't connect with it and I put it on the back burner.

Last night for some reason I couldn't sleep and I picked up The Courier of Caswell Hall to read in bed while I was waiting for morning to come and boy am I glad! The book starts slow - even though it jumps right into the story. There is enough descriptive paragraphs in the story to make you feel like you are right there participating in the lives of Lydia, Sarah, Nathan and everyone else in the battle for the Freedom of the Colonies.

The story isn't about the battle of the freedom of the slaves - it's about our fight to free ourselves from the tyranny of the British King. It takes place over the space of almost a year and you watch as Lydia becomes a spy and ends up falling for Nathan who has everything to lose as he travels the countryside for his Uncle (he has connections you don't expect until you find out WHO his Uncle is) ferreting out information against the British Troops, tracking down and delivering supplies to the struggling Patriots. I found myself cheering on the Patriots, Nathan and Lydia - as well as grieving the story of Sarah and her love.

This is a wonderful story for anyone who enjoys reading historical novels based on real historical events. Yes, it's fiction - but loosely based on The American Revolution. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It would make a great Christmas gift for anyone who enjoys history, action and romance.

Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to have a positive review and no $$$ exchanged hands. Thanks for reading! ( )
  tiinaj1 | Oct 14, 2013 |
The Courier of Caswell Hall is sure to be a winner with history lovers as well as romance fans. There is even some breath-holding suspense! Melanie Dobson has a winner in her An American Tapestry series offering that highlights the last years of the American Revolution.

Lydia Caswell is not really concerned with the politics of the Rebellion against Britain and King George. As the privileged daughter of a loyalist planter in Virginia, she merely yearns for the end of the war and a return to life as usual — the dinners, teas and balls her family was accustomed to hosting. The war has killed her beloved grandfather, taken away her betrothed and estranged her family from old friends and neighbors. But when Lydia finds an injured and half dead man on her family’s plantation, her views on the Rebellion begin to change. She soon finds herself a part of the patriots’ spy network and her heart turned toward the mysterious man that is a big part of it.

The historical aspects of The Courier of Caswell Hall are spot on — from the military maneuvers to common customs to slavery in the colonies. I found all of this fascinating and learned quite a bit as well. The characters are very well-devoloped and realistic — from dedicated patriots, slaves, British soldiers to loyalist citizens. Their emotions, motives and actions portray the nature of both sides of the American Revolution. Historical figures and events are included to give this novel a feeling of truth. The great sacrifice by our founders to achieve freedom is profoundly portrayed; a great lesson for all Americans today.

The Courier of Caswell Hall is a great read — check it out today!

Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

(Thanks to Summerside Press and LitFuse for a review copy of this book. The opinions expressed are mine alone.) ( )
  vintagebeckie | Oct 7, 2013 |
This was an enjoyable read about the stresses and strains placed on families and friendships during war. In this case it's the Revolutionary War that threatens to tear things apart for Lydia Casswell. She is a daughter of privilege and the child of a staunch supporter of the British Crown. While not as ardent as her father, Lydia also leans towards England in the battle until she finds a man half frozen by the river on her property. He brings her around to the other side and she soon joins her friend in spying for the nascent United States.

The book is well researched and brings out the fear that underlies any spying mission. These girls weren't trained. They weren't anything other than society girls yet they put it on the line for a cause. The characters are well developed and the romance takes a back seat to the history which makes it an interesting read. It was a tumultuous time in this country's history and I'm sure many families were torn apart with different feeling towards how it would all come to play. Ms. Dobson expresses that very, very well. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Oct 6, 2013 |
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Original title The Courier of Caswell Hall; reissued title The Imposter
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