J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “book review”

Two More Five-Star Reviews for Double-Edged Sword

My new novel, Double-Edged Sword, received two more five-star reviews! This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series, and tells the story of a family torn apart by the Civil War. Thank you so much, Evelyn and Chelsey McQuitty, for your awesome reviews!

Evelyn

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!

Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2022

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It’s a suspenseful book that had me gripped, especially in the second half. I’ve always felt attracted by history. In this novel, the Civil war’s period is perfectly represented and this was an extra point, in my opinion.
The plot is interesting and richly descriptive. The settings are portrayed in such a good way that I could feel inside the book in more than one opportunity. The flow just worked nicely.
The characters surprised me from the very beginning. I had estimated a guess at which was the ending of the book and I was completely wrong; it was a real shock!!
I’m already looking for another piece of work from this author.


Chelsey McQuitty

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend this series!

Reviewed in the United States on July 12, 2022

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I’ve always been intrigued by this period in history, which is why I picked up the book. I went into the story thinking that it was going to be like most of the other books that I’ve read before. That is, bits of war mixed in with a few details that have been stretched to suit the narrative. Not the case here. The author creates a wonderful story with characters that are so real that they grow on you. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a series that will make you want to binge read.

Another Outstanding Review for Double-Edged Sword

I received another review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Pacific Book Reviews and Arthur Thares, for your flattering review!

J.D.R. Hawkins has done it again with the next chapter into David and Anna’s lives. There is always a worry that bringing back established characters will not have the same spark as their first story, but that was never going to be the case for as gifted a writer as Hawkins. Instead, we get a direct sequel (and fourth in a series) to her fantastic novel A Rebel Among Us.


After a rocky start to their lives together, David and Anna leave the North to stay with David’s family in Alabama, but the couple soon finds that living in the South won’t be any easier. Just making it to David’s family is harrowing enough, but the challenges continue. With the turmoil of southern reconstruction after the Civil War, David and Anna eventually make their way back North, but not everyone is happy about their return. The two struggle to fight for each other while battling the outside world, but even their love may not be enough to protect them.


J.D.R. Hawkins is a gifted writer who creates compelling characters which feel real. It isn’t the more prominent aspects of their personality which make her characters unique; it is the subtle gestures that make them seem like complete beings. Something else she does remarkably well is sliding in historical references wherever they fit without making it feel forced. Her knowledge of the period shows not only with her historical references but the speech and actions of her characters. It is genuinely fun to follow David and Anna throughout their story, even if it is not always a pleasant one.


One of the strongest characteristics of this book is how it toes the line of multiple genres, opening it up to a broader audience. While there is plenty of romance, it isn’t a “romance novel,” and the balanced addition of action and humor places it in its own category. Hawkins touches on plenty of mature subjects but does so in a way that does not make the book too mature for younger readers. There is some language in the book that is not socially acceptable, but it was unfortunately commonplace during the period this book takes place.


Hopefully, this book is not the end of David and Anna’s story, as these characters have so much more life. J.D.R. Hawkins is an exceptional writer, and her talent should be appreciated no matter what genres of books a reader usually gravitates toward. It would be hard for anyone to read this book from cover to cover and not fall in love with the characters and the author that brings them to life.

Double-Edged Sword Receives Another Stellar Review

My new novel, Double-Edged Sword, has received a review from US Review of Books. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Gretchen Hansen, for your marvelous review!

Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction – Book Four of the Renegade Series
by J.D.R. Hawkins
Book review by Gretchen Hansen

“All of his ideas, however, ended the same, with him being tried, convicted and strung up for murder.”

The U.S. Civil War’s aftermath and the painful period known as the Reconstruction era are at the center of the narrative in this fourth installment of the author’s sweeping saga. David Summers brings home his bride, Anna. He also carries with him scars —physical and mental— from his years fighting in the war. As their train travels deeper into the South towards his native Alabama, the visible destruction of his birthplace begins to weigh him down. The newlyweds hope to start a new life together and create something beautiful out of the horrors they have survived.

Anna, originally from Pennsylvania, is excited to meet her new family and start one of her own. David’s mom and sisters welcome her, incorporating her into the household. To the rest of the community, she is a constant reminder of their devastation at the hands of the North. Being an intelligent young woman full of Moxie, she contributes to the family finances by selling pies to the soldiers at the fort.

As beautiful and idyllic as the countryside seems, the harsh reality sets in. The war brought absolute destruction to the South’s infrastructure, economy, and society. It would obviously take decades to recover. Many people simply walked away, either starving or having lost their families. To add salt to the wounds, Union troops remained in Alabama.

With all this turmoil, David is desperate to help his community regain s ome of its splendor. He joins a group of men who intend to push back. At first, the intent is to scare people, primarily the freed slaves. However, it quickly morphs into something frighteningly violent. His participation will have consequences. Events are happening too fast. David must find a way to heal himself and keep his family intact.

Hawkins had a tremendous challenge in crafting a novel that carries the story forward with the same level of excellence found in the other volumes. However, she has acco mplished this and has written a book that could easily stand alone. The narrative is fully formed and engrossing, showcasing the author’s poetic, colorful writing style.

The endearing, true-to-life characters provide a unique perspective into a side of the Civil War story that is usually disregarded. Hawkins does not shy away from the heartbreaking truth or pain of the people experiencing the ruin. Rather, she treats these with honesty and emotional intelligence. The result is neither a plea for pity nor a glorification.

Hawkins is an award-winning author with several best-selling volumes focusing on the Civil War and Reconstruction period. Her works have been well received by critics and readers alike. They have a particularly unique role in modern culture, balancing the narrative about U.S. History. These works remind readers that those who lived in and fought for either the South or the North were not as different as one might want to believe. One simple yet profound example from the book is the immense joy apple pies brings to the soldiers. The author’s deep knowledge of history and passion make this book an exceptional pleasure to read. It is certain that fans who have been anxiously awaiting this newest volume will be delighted and that it will also undoubtedly appeal to many new readers.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Double-Edged Sword Receives New Review

I received another wonderful review from Hollywood Book Reviews for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and tells the story of a family from Alabama who experience the horrors of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Thank you, Manik Chaturmutha, for your review!


J.D.R. Hawkins’ historical fiction Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction delves into the American Civil War which has destroyed cities and livelihoods. Amidst the tense atmosphere of conflict, a family attempts to recover socially and emotionally. However, the post-war continues to affect the many relations within the family; also, the external forces threaten to complicate their relationships even more. The prologue introduces the novel’s background and is ominous about the tangled story that lies ahead.

David Summers is an ex-confederate soldier who fought against the government, the Yankees, for his state of Alabama in the war. Recently released from prison, he travels home with his newly-wedded and pregnant wife, Anna. When he meets his family after a long time, he hopes it will provide him with some much-needed respite from the trauma of war, but not quite. David’s mother is disappointed that he ran away to the north to fight, leaving his family behind. Moreover, he married Anna, a Yankee. As his familial relations get strained, so does his marriage. Anna is desperate to return to her home as she faces a gruelling pregnancy, making her resent David. Furthermore, a sort of love quadrangle between David, Anna and their former suitors/friends threatens to crack their marriage.

Anna’s close friend Stephen is envious of David for having married her. David’s friend, Callie, is heartbroken since she assumed they would be married. Callie’s friendship with David causes a rift in his marriage, prompting Anna to leave for home. However, when David joins Anna in the north, he has a violent falling out with Stephen. This lands him in jail and the midst of a precarious court case. Will David be able to prove himself and live a life with his family? This is what remains to be found out.

Hawkins’ world-building through her vivid, imagery-filled text is sublime and compelling. She evokes a sense of nostalgia for a world that had been built before the war, and regrets for the way it exists after. The narrative consists of many strands–the post-war recovery of David and his family, marriage troubles with his wife and suspense regarding his future when he is jailed. Likewise, enough space is provided to fully imbibe the impact of all the unfolding plot themes. The characters of David and Anna are well-fleshed out, and their relationship is honestly written. The dialogues have been reported in the typical Southern-American dialect, thus providing a remarkable genuineness. It is a fascinating read. Readers of historical fiction with a dash of war drama, romance and suspense will enjoy this book.

Double-Edged Sword Receives Another Five-Star Review

I recently received another five-star review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Grady Harp, for your flattering review!

Grady HarpTop Contributor: Children’s Books

HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER

5.0 out of 5 stars The aftermath and scars of the Civil War

Reviewed in the United States on July 9, 2022

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Author/singer/songwriter JDR Hawkins writes novels and articles for newspapers, magazines, e-zines and blogs about the Civil War from the Confederate perspective. Her RENEGADE Series is rapidly winning multiple awards and there are four volumes – A REBEL AMONG US, A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE, A BECKONING HELLFIRE, and this volume DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD. These novels relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war.

Though a novel of the past, at this particular time in our history, when questions are being raised about the validity of statues and memorabilia of the Civil War, creating heated discussions and confrontations, this book offers a fresh view of the Civil War from the Southern, and Confederate, stance. Hawkins makes this revisit to the Confederate South lively with her eloquent prose as she opens this volume four: ‘ The constant ric-atata, ric-atata of the wheels rolling against the rails lulled him. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and he found it difficult to breathe in the warm, humid, almost unbearable air. The soft whispering breeze of his wife’s handheld fan gently whispered against his cheek. His mind eased. Voices seeped into his conscience, growing louder as they neared him. ‘Over here!” a man yelled. “Bring that torch!” A flame came into view. It quickly exploded into a fury of fire against the night sky. What appeared to be phantoms floated around burning buildings…’The scene established, the novel begins.

The plot is outlined as follows: ‘The Civil War has ended. Confederate cavalryman, David Summers, returns home to Alabama, taking his new wife, Anna, with him. Upon arrival, he understands how much the war has changed him and has scarred his homeland. Faced with challenges of transition, he learns how to navigate his new world, along with the pain and trauma of his past. He is also forced to confront his foes, including Stephen Montgomery. Their hatred for one another inevitably boils over into a fierce confrontation, whereby David is arrested. Will the jury believe his side of the story, even though he is an ex-Confederate? Or will he be hung for his crime?’

This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars. Grady Harp, July 22

Five-Star Review for Double-Edged Sword from Readers’ Favorite

I received another five-star review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Readers’ Favorite, for the wonderful review!

Reviewed by: Romuald Dzemo

Review Rating: 5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!


Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction by J.D.R. Hawkins is a mesmerizing historical novel set against the backdrop of the years following the Civil War in Alabama. The protagonist is a Confederate cavalryman, David Summers, who returned home to Alabama after the war as a broken man. While his past and the horrors of the war still haunt him, he also has a broken land before him. As he struggles to fit into the new reality, he quickly understands that he still has many enemies to face. A confrontation between David and his long-time arch enemy, Stephen Montgomery, leads to David’s arrest. When he faces the jury, will he find favor with them or will they hang him?

J.D.R. Hawkins’ evocative writing and a strong sense of imagery are two elements in this narrative that help to paint a fascinating, credible picture of Alabama following the Civil War. The author shows readers compelling glimpses of the effects of the war, writing beautifully about the relationships and family dynamics. Characters like Kit are appealing and the author uses Kit to redefine friendship. I loved the beautifully crafted dialogue and Hawkins’ deft handling of conflict. Another character who will instantly gain the interest of readers is Anna, who accompanies David to Alabama. While they are in love, she is conflicted as she is from the north and her apprehension shines through the narrative. Double-Edged Sword is a brilliantly conceived novel that examines the challenges during the reconstruction period after the war. It is a formidable tour de force and a gem for fans of historical novels set around the time of the Civil War.

Another Wonderful Review for A Rebel Among Us

I just received another great review for my novel, A Rebel Among Us. This is the third book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Pacific Book Review, for your wonderful review!

A Rebel Among Us
Title: A Rebel Among Us
Author: J.D.R. Hawkins
Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-64803-079-6
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 485
Reviewed by: Arthur Thares


Sometimes a book comes along and catches you completely off guard. A Rebel Among Us seems, on the surface, like a run-of-the-mill period romance novel, but it is so much more. By the time you finish this book, you will have a vested interest in it and its characters.


When Confederate soldier, David Summers, shows up on the Brady Farm wounded and weak, there is no way he can imagine how much his life will change. Anna and her sisters nurse David back to health, but with the Civil War raging, they know trouble is right around the corner if anyone ever finds out they are harboring a traitor. While their intentions seem generous initially, the Brady girls have a secret that spurred their kindness and generosity toward their enemy.


What starts as a relationship of convenience grows and changes, and Anna and David fall in love. As their forbidden love grows, the couple faces trial after trial until a scorned would-be lover threatens to tear the two apart forever. While the two face the most challenging times of their young lives, they learn a lot about themselves, but their happily-ever-after may not be meant to be.


Hawkins is an extraordinarily talented writer born for this work. The character building in this book is second to none. By the end of the story, you will find yourself rooting out loud for characters in a book. One of the many aspects which makes this book so appealing is, while it is a work of fiction, there is a certain realism to it, thanks to her knowledge of the civil war era.


A Rebel Among Us is a captivating story that will capture your imagination and your heart. The attention to detail in this story will subtly draw you in and not let you go until you’ve read the last word. This is far from the traditional romance story, as Hawkins trades in cheesy romance scenes for a relatable story with actual substance. Although this story takes place almost two hundred years ago, it will still resonate with readers today. A Rebel Among Us is easily a must-read title that will entertain, tug at the heartstrings, and ultimately leave the reader satisfied.

Another Five-Star Review for Double-Edged Sword

I just received another five-star review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Celeste, for your review!

Celeste S

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel

Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2022

In this absorbing novel, Double-Edge Sword, the author J.D.R. Hawkins has fictionalised and captured in a riveting way the main character’s journey through the turbulent waters of the Civil War in the USA and his return to his home in Alabama.


The story follows David who has survived the war and comes back home only to start struggling with the trauma of his past and enemies that are waiting to make his life really difficult.


This fascinating, powerful and thought-provoking story is very well written. The author has described with great mastery the challenges the main character has to face in order to get a normal life back after the terrible events of the war. This book is truthful and realistic in reflecting all those complex feelings and emotions. I strongly recommend it.

New Review for Double-Edged Sword

I recently received an awesome review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Phil Bolos, for your review! (BTW, this book is not the final one in the series.)


Phil Bolos

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling end to the series

Reviewed in the United States on June 29, 2022

Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction Book Four of the Renegade Series by J.D.R Hawkins is the final book in the series and does a great job of bringing the characters back to their origins while forcing them to confront the enemies of their past. The Civil War is over and David Summers is headed home with his wife. Alabama has changed a lot since he left, and David can see that in the people and in the landscape. While David is looking to put the past behind him and move forward, a long lost enemy soon shows his face and a new type of war begins. Soon David’s life is on the line again, but this time it is in a court of law. Will David be going to jail, or will the truth come out and save him?

This book does a great job of bringing together a great fictional story while also giving us some hypothetical historical fiction. I think that fans of thrillers will enjoy this book and the series that it is a part of.

New Review for A Rebel Among Us

I recently received another amazing review for my novel, A Rebel Among Us. This is the third book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, US Review of Books, for your fantastic review!

A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series Book 3)
by J. D. R. Hawkins
Westwood Books Publishing
book review by Mihir Shah


“The anguish in her eyes broke David’s heart. He gazed down at her and, as reassurance, gave her a sorrowful smile.”


How one acts in the face of adversity is often a true reflection of one’s character. This is no different for the protagonist, Anna Brady, a teenager who harbors a soldier from the Confederate Army as the Civil War is reaching its most pivotal point. Despite fears of being labeled complicit in a crime, Anna finds herself mesmerized by Alabama native David Summers. More than that, though, she recognizes that he is near certain death after being wounded at Gettysburg, and if she doesn’t help, his blood will be on her. As the story unfolds, Hawkins does a masterful job of using the Civil War as a stage to highlight the torturous choices faced by those who lived through these times.


Centered around the dichotomy between love and war, the entirety of the premise revolves around a forbidden love story that clashes head-on with the throes of war and egos. Using strong character development to showcase the instant bonds that Anna and her two younger sisters, Abigail and Maggie, form with Summers’ horse, Renegade, the author does a commendable job of keeping the plot flowing with energy. The work is largely driven by the developing relationship betwwen Anna and David (a teenager blossoming into a woman and a perceived traitor to his country) and the inevitable chaos that will ensue when the truth comes out.

The antagonist of the story, Stephen Montgomery, ironically a Union sergeant, is a thorn in the side of Anna and David’s love story. But in reality, the thematic question that the author tests to its limit is at what point and at what cost can love still reign supreme? That internal battle pits Anna and David against their individual duties. For David, the burden of filling the void left behind by his father and supporting his family weigh heavily against his desire to be with Anna, while Anna is mired in caring for her sisters after the loss of her father.


With one obstacle after another continually in their way, the couple’s resolve is almost endlessly tested, whether it is by Anna’s aunt, Sarah, who encourages David to understand the ramifications of his and Anna’s union, or Maggie, the sister who refuses to accept David. In the story, readers are exposed to the perspective of the Confederacy, how they would have viewed President Lincoln, and the ruthlessness of Union soldiers toward captive soldiers. As historical fiction, Hawkins’ work is especially intriguing because of the raw, authentic settings and tension that is being created. Conjuring the palpable feeling of a nation divided amongst itself is downright harrowing, and the contentious dynamic between Stephen Montgomery and David Summer is simply the epitome of that.


While Anna and David are front and center, numerous other storylines are simultaneously heartwarming and gut-wrenching, such as Claudia and Abigail’s expression of childhood innocence and exuberance and the genuine friendship formed between David and Patrick, a neighbor in whom Anna confided wholeheartedly. Above all else, what makes this story so intriguing is the purity of a love story grounded in the faith of the human spirit and unwavering resolve, come what may. Acceptance, or the lack thereof, is a strong theme that resonates universally in Hawkins’ work. Against the backdrop of the Civil War, the duality of war and love create a riveting environment that holds the reader’s attention from cover to cover.


RECOMMENDED by the US Review
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