I’m very excited and happy to announce that my new novel, Double-Edged Sword, has received the Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion! This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and now all four books have received this distinguished award!
According to their website, “BRAGMedallion.com is owned and operated by indieBRAG, LLC, a privately held organization that has brought together a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located throughout the United States and in ten other countries around the globe. The word “indie” refers to self-published books, while B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. The name “indieBRAG” and the B.R.A.G. logos are trademarks of indieBRAG, LLC. The B.R.A.G. Medallion is a certification trademark owned and controlled by indieBRAG, LLC.”
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to receive this award! Thank you, indieBRAG, for giving my book the distinction it deserves!
I am frequently asked how I came up with the title for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie (the first book in the Renegade Series). I derived it from this wonderful quote, which a Confederate soldier wrote in his journal.
“For it was the first Field of Glory I had seen in my May of life, and the first time that Glory sickened me with its repulsive aspect, and made me suspect it was all a glittering lie.” – Henry Morton Stanley, C.S.A.
It is difficult to imagine what went through the young soldiers’ minds when they finally “saw the elephant” – horrifying, no doubt, and exhilarating at the same time. But soldiers weren’t the only ones who experienced such terror. This excerpt describes how their loved ones must have felt. Some of them never received word of what had happened to their brave soldiers. War always involves tragedy, but I think not knowing would be the worst part.
Word of the battle quickly spread to Huntsville, and within days, filtered down into Morgan County. Caroline had mentally prepared herself for what she anticipated would happen, but when the first battle finally did take place, she found herself ill-equipped. She did her best to shelter her brood, but realized it was just a matter of time before they learned of the event.
The following week, she found out that a list of fatalities had been posted, and knew she had to drive to Ben Johnson’s mercantile to have a look, but all the while, her heart felt as though it was breaking. She dreaded the list, dreaded the result of the terrible fighting, and especially, dreaded what the war might be doing to her home. Going alone, she reached her destination, climbed down from the wagon, hitched her draft horse, and approached the two-story wooden structure, her ankle boots clunking up the wooden steps and across the porch’s floorboards as she walked. She pulled the front door open, and a tiny bell above it announced her arrival. As she entered, she saw several others gathered around a notice that had been tacked to the wall. Ben Johnson nodded. He threw a glance toward the posted list. She knew what it meant.
Slowly, feeling as though she was floating, she passed by the dry goods, glass cases displaying pottery, clothing and sewing notions, and under farm equipment hanging from the ceiling rafters, approaching the others. Some of the women were sobbing, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, while others turned away and stared at her with vacant eyes. As they drifted off, she stepped toward the ominous poster, held her breath, and forced herself to gaze upon the names. When she had reached the bottom, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hiram’s name wasn’t on the list, although she recognized one who was. Turning toward the counter, she wiped a trickling tear from her cheek as she walked over, and requested a copy of the Southern Advocate.
Initially at a loss for words, Ben cleared his throat. “I reckon Hiram’s name ain’t on there,” he finally said.
The revelation had started sinking in. Caroline smiled. “No, thankfully not.”
Ben returned the smile. “Right glad to hear it.” He handed her a newspaper. “The editor of this paper, Mr. William Figures, has a son who’s with your husband’s regiment.”
“Oh?” she replied cordially. “He’s all right ain’t he? I mean, I didn’t see …”
“Yes ma’am, far as I can tell.”
“That’s mighty fine. Well, I’ll be on my way. Good day, Mr. Johnson.”
She turned to leave, and as she opened the paned-glass door, Ben called out, “When you write to that man of yours, tell him I said hello.”
“I surely will,” she replied. Walking out to the wagon, she untied Joe Boy, climbed aboard, and slapped the reins. She drove out of view from the mercantile, and pulled the vehicle to a stop. Uncontrollably, she burst into tears, sobbing convulsively until the ache in her heart finally subsided. She couldn’t show her weakness to her children: for them she had to be strong. After wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, she drove on toward home.
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!
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.
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.
I was recently featured on AllAuthor. Here is the interview. Thanks for checking it out!
Tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up.
I was born in Sioux City, Iowa. When I was one, my parents and I moved to Phoenix, but we moved back to Sioux City when I was six. I have one sister who is two years younger than me.Were you a big reader as a kid too?
I was not much of a reader when I was a kid, although I did like some books that are banned now, like Animal Farm and The Outsiders.At what age did you begin writing your first story?
I started writing stories when I was in junior high, and they were mostly about my friends. Before that, I wrote poems and songs.Which of your childhood dreams was the first to die?
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a jockey because I love horses. But my family lived in the city and I ended up being way too tall.Who all are a part of your family?
I have a wonderful husband who I have been married to for over 40 years. We have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two grandsons. My husband and youngest son are not really readers, but my older son has helped me out tremendously with my books. He helps to edit them, helped me come up with catch phrases, and even came up with the title for my most recent book.How did you come up with the idea for your book, A Beckoning Hellfire?
The idea came to me as I thought about what my protagonist must have felt, experiencing his first battle. He wants to be part of the excitement, but once he is in it, he realizes it is hell.What are the challenges of writing a nonfiction book?
Lots of research and precise descriptions. I try to incorporate dialogue where I can, so it is not such a boring, textbook read.As a writer, what consumes most of your time?
Research and plotting out the story lines.What is the best review you have gotten for your book, Rebel Among Us?
I have received numerous five-star reviews for this book, as well as some very flattering reviews from editorial reviewers.What is your writing dream? How close do you think you are to achieving it?
I recently became a bestseller, which was a dream. I would like to find an agent so that I can potentially sell more books.How many hours in a day do you write? Typically, 3-6 hours. Have you ever pulled an all-nighter writing?
YesWhat did being an author mean to you as a child?
It meant being an exceptional storyteller. What does it mean to you now? The same thing, only being able to incorporate elaborate detail and character arcs.Do you ever leave book reviews on other authors’ books?
Yes. What do reviews mean to you? They help the ranking of my books, and give me insight into what my readers think.How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written?
So many! Can you tell us about one? I am in the process of writing the fifth and final book in the Renegade Series. The story will open with my protagonist traveling out west in search of his pot of gold.When did you join AllAuthor? Several years ago. What has your experience been like?
My experience with AllAuthor has been fantastic. They support authors and provide tools that help us get the word out about our books.
Bestselling author Julie Hawkins was born in Sioux City, Iowa. She started writing stories when she was in junior high. She is one of a few female Civil War authors. Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, A Rebel Among Us, and Double-Edged Sword. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Read full interview…
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.
One is a brave soldier, the other a deadly terrorist. A camera will decide which man survives.
The Major is a seasoned field agent, and neutralising a target is routine for him. But everything about Operation Turquoise, from the target to the weapon, is disturbingly unconventional. Alone in a foreign country, the Major must execute each stage of his mission with utmost precision. There is no Plan B.
The Poet has a way with words—and warfare. His voice echoes in thousands of homes worldwide, yet few have ever seen him. Endowed with a sharp mind and evil intent, the Poet has orchestrated many spectacular terror attacks in Asia and Africa. His latest mission has the Indian intelligence fraternity on its toes.
Ridden with risks, Operation Turquoise will bring the two men head to head—and only one will survive.
The Major, 6.2’ lean and fit with short black hair, was like any regular Indian man, unless he was on duty; then he became the job.
Along with hundreds of pumped up youth in their late teens, he became a gentleman cadet at the National Defence Academy (NDA) just before the 80s decade ended. It was a career decision like becoming a doctor or engineer for him. But his training at the academy transformed him for life. His profession became more than a mere job to him.
Every time he donned the crisp green army uniform, his soul took on a new life. Any task assigned to him become a responsibility he had to fulfil, irrespective of the odds.
As a young lieutenant, eager to challenge his own abilities, he volunteered to become a Special Forces Paratrooper. This required another year of intense training.
The opportunity to join the Special Group, India’s secret special force unit that took on assignments that the government could not acknowledge, came soon after. Completing the additional training and becoming a member of Col Bhatti’s team of Special Group soldiers known as the Mavericks was the single most cherished accomplishment of his life.
It was also the decision that put an almost definite expiry date on his life.
Now the tasks that he undertook were not only dangerous but also top secret. The day he failed at an operation, that day he ceased to exist. But this reality didn’t deter him or weaken his resolve because his failure also meant the success of a serious threat to India’s national security. As long as he breathed, he could not let that happen.
For Operation Turquoise, he found himself in the land of the Pharaohs disguised as a tourist but he had no time for sightseeing. He had to hunt a man who had not been sighted in years.
From his NDA days, he was known for his ability to disguise himself. On this mission, this skill was put to the ultimate test. His disguise had to work for his mission to succeed. Being a Krav Maga expert, hand-to-hand combat was another one of his strengths that came in handy when an unexpected development threatened to derail the mission.
While among friends and colleagues, he was a regular person who cribbed about cancelled leaves and poorly planned field operations. He criticised aspects of the armed forces he found wanting and had realistic expectations about what the government of India could offer him in lieu of field support.
He was single, and had always worked in an all-male environment. Even the mention of a woman in the background made him doubt the credibility of the plan for the mission. But no matter what his misgivings, once given a responsibility he makes it his mission to complete it.
About the Author:
Rani Ramakrishnan writes contemporary thriller novels. In another lifetime, she was an entrepreneur, a management professional, a trainer, even an author of study materials for distance education. She is an occasional blogger and a regular bookworm. Two things influence her writing: people she met and the places she has visited.
She lives in Coimbatore, a picturesque city on the foothills of the Nilgiri Mountains, in South India. She loves the outdoors and of late, she has developed a healthy passion for marathons.
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.
A moment of passion, a devastating scandal and a marriage between sworn enemies…
Aakash Thakkar knows his path. Family, duty, responsibility, tradition. His path does not lead to madness, chaos, wild passionate steamy nights, and her. Or so he tells himself.
Kanak Shourie lives for the present. Friends, fun, work, life. Her present does not include the weight of other people’s judgement, stuffy societal mores, discovering desire with uptight businessmen, and him. She refuses to believe otherwise.
What happens when the one you hate is the only one you want? What happens when you try to right a wrong but end up in something that feels more right than anything ever has?
Can Aakash and Kanak bury a lifetime of distrust and forge a life together? Or will the reasons that had them battling each other for years bury their tentative new beginning?
Kanak gasped as his lips trailed a slow, sensual line of kisses down her neck. Her eyes closed and her head fell back giving him better access.
He growled in approval, the sound thrumming through her. She fumbled with the buttons of his white shirt, her hand slipping through the gap and finding hard, firm, muscled skin. Her fingernails did a slow circle around his flat nipple making him nip her on her shoulder.
Her dazed eyes met his stormy ones, disbelieving, intense and confused. He lowered his head and took her lips in a kiss that solved her confusion, once and for all.
She wanted this man, more than she’d ever wanted another. And she couldn’t deny it anymore. She fisted her hands in the thick, rough silk of his hair and pulled him impossibly closer.
Their tongues met, dueled, and stroked making her moan, the breath of sound disappearing between his lips. He ground his hips against her, the movement making her legs fall apart, the better to cradle him with.
The rough concrete behind her back scraped her skin but she couldn’t have cared less. But his hands slipped between the wall and her and flipped her over so his back was against it. She landed against the hard length of him, her hips doing an unconscious roll that had his head falling back.
She unzipped his pants, her fingers slipping in, searching and finding the hot silken steel of him. He cursed brokenly, his hips arching into her touch. She smiled, the heady rush of power over such a powerful man spooling through her.
Until his hands cupped her breasts and her eyes rolled back in her head, pleasure swamping her and making it hard to focus. He dipped his head and took her breast in his mouth, the material of her flimsy dress damp in seconds from his attentions. His other hand pinched, fondled and stroked the other breast until her legs quivered.
Kanak stroked harder, desperate for him to not stop what he was doing. He didn’t seem to want to anyway. He pulled her dress up, above her hips, the cool night breeze caressing her thighs and making her shiver.
Kanak shoved frantically at his pants, pushing until she got what she wanted. It sprang free and she wrapped her hands around it, fisting it.
The flash when it came lit up the darkness around them. Their small corner suddenly blindingly bright. He reacted with startling swiftness, spinning her so she was covered by the bulk of his body, unseen by whoever was out there.
“Get the fuck out of here,” he growled over his shoulder, his furious laser like gaze sending a shiver down Kanak’s spine even though it wasn’t directed at her.
Nervous laughter was the only answer. And then, another bright flash.
“I am going to kill you,” he said conversationally to the person behind him.
In a matter of seconds, he tucked himself back into his pants and straightened Kanak’s dress with a deceptive calm. When he turned, still keeping Kanak hidden behind him, she heard the photographer squeak.
“Give me your camera.” The words were soft, calm and deadly. The tone usually what you heard before you died.
“No.” The man with the death wish giggled and moved back, out of his reach. “This is going to make me rich. And not just the photographs man. I got video too and it’s not on this camera. It’s with my friend who is already gone. You can’t catch him.” Another giggle.
And before either of them could react, he disappeared into the dark.
Ice slid through Kanak’s veins. What had she done? What had she allowed to happen? A sex tape of her on the internet, splashed across the tabloids, a sex tape with him…
“I will fix this,” he said, the same ice in his voice except his was directed at the mystery photographer. “I promise you.”
She wanted to believe him. She almost did but Kanak knew that some things were out of even his control.
A sex tape. Her head spun at the enormity of this fiasco. A sex tape with Aakash Thakkar, big shot industrialist, rising political power, and her number one enemy.
She was screwed and she knew it.
About the Author:
Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.
An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.
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.
Goodreads is giving away 100 ebook copies of my new novel, Double-Edged Sword! This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and has already received several five-star reviews. The giveaway is going on now, and will run through August 3. Here is the link so that you can enter to win. Best of luck!