J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “historical romance”

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
©2022 All Rights Reserved • The US Review of Books

Another Awesome Review for A Rebel Among Us

I just received this review from Hollywood Book Reviews. Thank you so much for the amazing review!

Title: A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War (A Renegade Series) Author: J.D.R. Hawkins 

Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing 

ISBN: 978-1648030796 

Pages: 493 

Genre: Romantic Action & Adventure / War & Military Action Fiction Reviewed by: Jack Chambers 

Hollywood Book Reviews 

One of the things that people rarely ever think about or consider when discussing the impact of war throughout history is the immediate aftermath. There are many books written about the long-term effects war has on things like the economy, a nation’s power on the world stage, and politics as a whole, but the study of how we as individuals interact with one another in the wake of war and the mental struggle which occurs with those who fought in wars is rarely given enough attention. The need to advocate for peace in the wake of war is essential, and as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.”

In author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War, the author brings readers back to the popular A Renegade Series with the third book of the franchise. The protagonist, David Summers, finds himself in a whole other world when he wakes up from his injury-induced slumber. After his dreams of chivalry and heroism are quashed by the horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg, a wounded David and his horse are taken in by four sisters in enemy territory who help restore him to health. Deserted by his Confederate brothers in arms, David struggles between his desire to avenge his father’s death and the love he begins to feel for the oldest sister, Anna. As she presents him an interesting offer, he must also contend with his identity being revealed lest he be labeled a traitor by the Union while also coming face to face with Anna’s longtime neighbor, now a Union soldier, who has been in love with her for years, and will stop at nothing to have her heart, even if it means having David arrested. 

The author crafted a truly beautiful, heartbreaking, and emotionally complex narrative. The balance struck between historical fiction and romance was eloquently written here, as the author brought enough of the historical setting and events happening around the cast of characters into their daily lives without sacrificing the personal conflicts or intimate developments that they made with one another. The concept of two very opposed sides of a bloody conflict such as this coming together to find common ground is something which feels more relevant than ever in our modern age, and the ability of the author to showcase all of the underlying causes of the conflict, and the lies and illusions that many average soldiers fell under from their leadership in the war made this story so fascinating to read. 

This is the perfect read for those who enjoy romantic stories, especially those set in a historical fiction setting and who enjoy, in particular, stories surrounding the American Civil War. As a fan of history, I was fascinated with the authors ability to get into each side’s perspective so equally and bring the setting and tone of the era to life so 

naturally, especially without sacrificing the natural character growth and story beats overall. Powerful, thought-provoking, and entertaining, author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War is the perfect historical fiction romance novel and a great new book in the A Renegade Series franchise. The rich dynamics that are presented between David and Anna especially are great to see, and how these very different groups of people find a way to work through their differences and find common ground in an era filled with untold violence and hatred is amazing to read.

Excerpt from Double-Edged Sword

I’m very excited about my new book, Double-Edged Sword, and I wanted to share an excerpt from the novel. This is from the first chapter. It will give you an idea of what it must have been like to see the South after the Civil War ended.

Excerpt from Double-Edged Sword

He turned and drove several blocks, trying to recall the direction of the house where he had stayed on his first night away from home. Everything appeared so different, and bluecoats were everywhere, swarming like flies. Down the street, a row of sutlers’ shops had been erected for the benefit of the Union troops. The newlyweds turned a corner and continued on, past structures that were once beautiful homes, but now sat empty, the glass in their windows shattered, their walls crumbling. Tent cities and clapboard structures cluttered vacant lots. Some of the boards were still adorned with wallpaper, an obvious declaration that the walls had been torn from citizens’ private dwellings. David recognized a two-story house, even though the paint was peeling around the window frames and the yard was filled with knee-high weeds.

“This is it?” Anna asked. “It isn’t quite how you described it.”

“It ain’t how I remember it, either,” he said.

He jumped down and tied the mule, then assisted his wife. They climbed the steps together. David tapped on the door. The brass knocker that had been there before was gone; holes from the bolts that had held it in place were all that remained. There came no response, so after a few moments, he tapped again.

“Last time I was here, she had a butler. Tall black feller, name of … Henry.” David nodded as he recalled. “He didn’t take to us much.” He flashed Anna a grin.

“He’s long gone by now, no doubt,” she said.

David tapped once more, but still no response came, so he tried the knob. The door stuck in the jam at first, but then creaked loudly on its hinges.

“Do you think we should go in there?” asked Anna.

He stepped inside. The long hallway was as dark as he remembered, but the lavish paintings that had adorned the walls were missing. Anna followed him down the hall to a large room that was empty except for a solitary wooden stool that squatted in the center. The ornate draperies David remembered had been ripped down, and a transparent gauze sheet had been draped across the broken windows in an attempt to keep insects out. The fireplace stood dark and empty, and the tapestries David remembered seeing were all gone, along with the furniture and knick knacks.

“I don’t think anyone’s here,” Anna whispered.

David walked to the window and looked outside. The back of the house was just as neglected as the front, and the stable doors yawned open with a passing breeze. There was nothing inside. He heard a thump and reeled around to see a small man standing behind Anna. She turned and gasped at the same time before rushing to her husband.

“Can I be of service to y’all?” the man asked feebly.

“Josiah?” David said, taking a step closer. “Is that you?”

The little man held his hand out to him. “That would be me. How may I help y’all?”

“Don’t you remember me?” asked David, trying to keep his voice quiet. “I’m David Summers. I came here with my friend, Jake Kimball. We met on the train from Huntsville, remember?”  

The man didn’t seem to recall, so David went on.

“Your wife, Miss Martha, she had us stay the night. And her sister was here. Miss Mattie?”

“When did you say this was?” The old man shuffled to the wooden stool and sat down.

“It was in April of sixty-three. We were on our way to jine up with Jeb Stuart.”

The words seemed to register. Josiah looked up and smiled. “Yes. Yes! I believe I do remember you!” He stood up and vigorously shook David’s hand.

“This here’s Anna, my wife,” he introduced.

She stepped toward him. “Sir,” she said, taking his bony little hand in both of hers.

“Where’s Miss Martha? I’d surely like to see her.” David chuckled. “She made me promise to stop by the next time I was in town.”

The smile vanished from Josiah’s furrowed face. Suddenly, he looked very old. “She’s gone,” he said flatly.

“Where did she go?” Anna inquired.

Josiah sank back down onto the stool. “She left me … when the Yankees came. She got so upset with the occupation that one day, she …” His voice trailed off.

David exchanged glances with his wife. “She what, Josiah?”

He looked up at them, his eyes filled with grief. “She took the pistol out from under the mattress … and put it to her head.”

“Dear God!” exclaimed David.

Anna’s mouth dropped open.

“It was more than the poor darlin’ could bear, havin’ Hooker’s army come in here and take everything we owned. They took the nigger, they took the horses, they even took the rugs out from under our feet. Stripped clean, jist like a plague of locusts.” He paused, the silence overwhelming, then said, “Wilst they were fightin’, there was a lunar eclipse. Do you reckon it was some kind of omen?”

David gulped. “What happened to Miss Mattie?” he asked, afraid to hear the reply. “Where’s Miss Martha’s sister?”

“She’s gone too. Ran off before they got here, and I haven’t seen nor heard from her since.”

“Do you know where she went?” Anna asked, taking her husband’s arm to steady herself.

“No idea. I’m all alone here. Have been for quite some time now.”

David was at a loss, not knowing what to say. “We could take you somewhere. So you ain’t alone,” he suggested.

“And where would that be?” Josiah stood, slowly straightening. “The whole of the South is like this now. And besides, this here’s my home, and I’ll be damned to leave it.”

“Can we do anything for you?” Anna inquired.

“Jist leave me be, young’uns. I can fend for myself. Nice of y’all to stop by, though.” He sashayed into the parlor, or what David remembered to be the parlor, and closed a dark oak door behind him.

“We should go,” suggested Anna.

David glanced at her, unable to speak. He felt helpless, like he should do something, but was at a loss as to what. She took his hand and led him outside, where they boarded the wagon in silence and rode back to the depot. Chattanooga, David understood, had aged tremendously, just like Josiah. The town of two thousand was now overrun with bluecoats who seemed unconcerned with the annihilation they’d caused. What was once an elegant town was now demoralized by Yankees, and the whole city appeared beaten down and ancient.

A Few Updates

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time last Tuesday to check out my post on the b00k r3vi3w Tourss book tour for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. If you’d like to check out the other bloggers who participated, here is the link:

https://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2022/04/bookblitz-double-edged-sword-renegade-4.html

Some of the bloggers even posted a mini book trailer for the novel. Here’s the link to it:

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0?ui=2&ik=dcfad889c4&attid=0.1.1&permmsgid=msg-f:1731331053967453250&th=1806ec6bac552c42&view=att&disp=safe

The last time I checked, there were over 600,000 views! That was last Tuesday, so it’s probably over a million by now.

In other news, the book is now available for free on Kindle Unlimited (Amazon) for a limited time. And if you are interested in writing a review, I’d be more than happy to hear from you! Thanks again for all your support!

Excerpt from Double-Edged Sword

I’m very excited about my new book, Double-Edged Sword, and I wanted to share an excerpt from the novel. This is from the first chapter. It will give you an idea of what it must have been like to see the South after the Civil War ended.

Excerpt from Double-Edged Sword

He turned and drove several blocks, trying to recall the direction of the house where he had stayed on his first night away from home. Everything appeared so different, and bluecoats were everywhere, swarming like flies. Down the street, a row of sutlers’ shops had been erected for the benefit of the Union troops. The newlyweds turned a corner and continued on, past structures that were once beautiful homes, but now sat empty, the glass in their windows shattered, their walls crumbling. Tent cities and clapboard structures cluttered vacant lots. Some of the boards were still adorned with wallpaper, an obvious declaration that the walls had been torn from citizens’ private dwellings. David recognized a two-story house, even though the paint was peeling around the window frames and the yard was filled with knee-high weeds.

“This is it?” Anna asked. “It isn’t quite how you described it.”

“It ain’t how I remember it, either,” he said.

He jumped down and tied the mule, then assisted his wife. They climbed the steps together. David tapped on the door. The brass knocker that had been there before was gone; holes from the bolts that had held it in place were all that remained. There came no response, so after a few moments, he tapped again.

“Last time I was here, she had a butler. Tall black feller, name of … Henry.” David nodded as he recalled. “He didn’t take to us much.” He flashed Anna a grin.

“He’s long gone by now, no doubt,” she said.

David tapped once more, but still no response came, so he tried the knob. The door stuck in the jam at first, but then creaked loudly on its hinges.

“Do you think we should go in there?” asked Anna.

He stepped inside. The long hallway was as dark as he remembered, but the lavish paintings that had adorned the walls were missing. Anna followed him down the hall to a large room that was empty except for a solitary wooden stool that squatted in the center. The ornate draperies David remembered had been ripped down, and a transparent gauze sheet had been draped across the broken windows in an attempt to keep insects out. The fireplace stood dark and empty, and the tapestries David remembered seeing were all gone, along with the furniture and knick knacks.

“I don’t think anyone’s here,” Anna whispered.

David walked to the window and looked outside. The back of the house was just as neglected as the front, and the stable doors yawned open with a passing breeze. There was nothing inside. He heard a thump and reeled around to see a small man standing behind Anna. She turned and gasped at the same time before rushing to her husband.

“Can I be of service to y’all?” the man asked feebly.

“Josiah?” David said, taking a step closer. “Is that you?”

The little man held his hand out to him. “That would be me. How may I help y’all?”

“Don’t you remember me?” asked David, trying to keep his voice quiet. “I’m David Summers. I came here with my friend, Jake Kimball. We met on the train from Huntsville, remember?”  

The man didn’t seem to recall, so David went on.

“Your wife, Miss Martha, she had us stay the night. And her sister was here. Miss Mattie?”

“When did you say this was?” The old man shuffled to the wooden stool and sat down.

“It was in April of sixty-three. We were on our way to jine up with Jeb Stuart.”

The words seemed to register. Josiah looked up and smiled. “Yes. Yes! I believe I do remember you!” He stood up and vigorously shook David’s hand.

“This here’s Anna, my wife,” he introduced.

She stepped toward him. “Sir,” she said, taking his bony little hand in both of hers.

“Where’s Miss Martha? I’d surely like to see her.” David chuckled. “She made me promise to stop by the next time I was in town.”

The smile vanished from Josiah’s furrowed face. Suddenly, he looked very old. “She’s gone,” he said flatly.

“Where did she go?” Anna inquired.

Josiah sank back down onto the stool. “She left me … when the Yankees came. She got so upset with the occupation that one day, she …” His voice trailed off.

David exchanged glances with his wife. “She what, Josiah?”

He looked up at them, his eyes filled with grief. “She took the pistol out from under the mattress … and put it to her head.”

“Dear God!” exclaimed David.

Anna’s mouth dropped open.

“It was more than the poor darlin’ could bear, havin’ Hooker’s army come in here and take everything we owned. They took the nigger, they took the horses, they even took the rugs out from under our feet. Stripped clean, jist like a plague of locusts.” He paused, the silence overwhelming, then said, “Wilst they were fightin’, there was a lunar eclipse. Do you reckon it was some kind of omen?”

David gulped. “What happened to Miss Mattie?” he asked, afraid to hear the reply. “Where’s Miss Martha’s sister?”

“She’s gone too. Ran off before they got here, and I haven’t seen nor heard from her since.”

“Do you know where she went?” Anna asked, taking her husband’s arm to steady herself.

“No idea. I’m all alone here. Have been for quite some time now.”

David was at a loss, not knowing what to say. “We could take you somewhere. So you ain’t alone,” he suggested.

“And where would that be?” Josiah stood, slowly straightening. “The whole of the South is like this now. And besides, this here’s my home, and I’ll be damned to leave it.”

“Can we do anything for you?” Anna inquired.

“Jist leave me be, young’uns. I can fend for myself. Nice of y’all to stop by, though.” He sashayed into the parlor, or what David remembered to be the parlor, and closed a dark oak door behind him.

“We should go,” suggested Anna.

David glanced at her, unable to speak. He felt helpless, like he should do something, but was at a loss as to what. She took his hand and led him outside, where they boarded the wagon in silence and rode back to the depot. Chattanooga, David understood, had aged tremendously, just like Josiah. The town of two thousand was now overrun with bluecoats who seemed unconcerned with the annihilation they’d caused. What was once an elegant town was now demoralized by Yankees, and the whole city appeared beaten down and ancient.

Cover Reveal!

Here is the cover for my new book, Double-Edged Sword. I’m so excited that I wanted to share! This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series. I will post the purchasing link in a couple of days. Please let me know what you think!

A Rebel Among Us Wins B.R.A.G. Medallion

My novel, A Rebel Among Us, has recently received the B.R.A.G. Medallion. This book is the third one in the Renegade Series. Now all three books in the series are recipients of the B.R.A.G. Medallion. According to the IndieBRAG 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.”

My book is featured on the homepage of their website, https://www.bragmedallion.com/. It is also on its own page: https://www.bragmedallion.com/award-winning-books/historical-fiction/a-rebel-among-us/

The first two books in the Renegade Series, A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire, have also received the honor. Thank you, indieBRAG, for this distinguished recognition!

Book Teaser #4 for New Novel

As promised, I’d like to share one book teaser each week over a four-week time span. Last week, I posted the third teaser for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword, which will be available in a few weeks. This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series. Please let me know what you think! Does it spark your interest?

Double-Edged Sword describes the perilous desecration of the South following the Civil War, and how one newlywed couple navigates through the turmoil left behind, both in the South and in the North. Sure to be a bestseller, Double-Edged Sword discusses many controversial topics. It is edgy, profound, and alarming enough to pique anyone’s curiosity. Soon available at Amazon and from Westwood Books Publishing, LLC.

Book Teaser #3 for New Novel

As promised, I’d like to share one book teaser each week over a four-week time span. Last week, I posted the second teaser for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword, which will be available in a few weeks. This book is the fourth one in the Renegade Series. Please let me know what you think! Does it spark your interest?

Double-Edged Sword describes the perilous desecration of the South following the Civil War, and how one newlywed couple navigates through the turmoil left behind, both in the South and in the North. Sure to be a bestseller, Double-Edged Sword discusses many controversial topics. It is edgy, profound, and alarming enough to pique anyone’s curiosity. Soon available at Amazon and from Westwood Books Publishing, LLC.

Awesome Review for A Rebel Among Us

I received the March/April 2021 edition of the Confederate Veteran. Inside was a review for my novel, A Rebel Among Us. What an exciting surprise! I sent the book to the magazine about two years ago for a review, and I finally received one. However, since the time I sent a copy of the novel for review, I acquired a new publisher for the book, Westwood Books Publishing. The novel also has a new cover. Here it is:

Because the magazine is mailed out to Sons of Confederate Veterans members, it isn’t published on a website. So I copied the review and am posting it here. Thank you, Cathy Hanford West, for your nice review! (Spoiler alert: much of the plot is revealed in this review.)

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