My latest book, A Becharmed Callie Christmas, has received a wonderful review from The U.S. Review of Books. Thank you so much, Toby Berry, for your review!
A Becharmed Callie Christmas: A Story of the Civil War (The Renegade Series) J. D. R. Hawkins
Book review by Toby Berry
“It seemed the war wasn’t as glamorous as she had been told.”
In this novel of historical fiction, the author delivers the flavor and essence of high society life in the South during the Civil War era. The charmed and unfazed young belles get glimpses of the outside world, though they tend to quickly look away. They are a living portrait of joyful naïveté and innocence. The main character, Callie Copeland, plans parties and thinks about boys. She is a privileged and sheltered sixteen-year-old beauty, and she is well aware of it. Her cares about the war are usually remote, but sometimes bubble to the surface, “She suddenly realized how fragile life was. So many soldiers had died, and so many families had lost their loved ones. She was one of the lucky ones.”
This book could serve as a companion to the novel Gone with the Wind with respect to its focus on the cares of young, privileged ladies of the 1860s:
“There would be no more worries until after the Yule, and she would make happy, even if it meant appearing insensitive.”
Perhaps the best elements within the narrative are the artful descriptions that take readers right into the life of the South’s elite with their details of the antebellum homes, rooms, and decor. “A thick pink quilt covered her four-poster bed. A fire crackled in the white marble fireplace at the opposite end of the room.” The message is subtle but obvious that war is unspeakably terrible, even amongst those who are living more remotely and are less aware of the ugliness of military conflict directly. As all good authors do, Hawkins shows rather than tells, never preaching. The book ends each chapter with a letter home from the war front. It brings the juxtaposing viewpoints to the forefront. In short, Hawkins’ novel is exquisitely done.
I have a new release! I’m very excited to introduce A Becharmed Callie Christmas, a short story that goes along with the Renegade Series, and takes place approximately between book 1, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, and Book 2, A Beckoning Hellfire. This is the story of Callie Mae Copeland, a minor character in the series, and how Christmas 1862 affects her. Here is the back cover blurb:
Christmas comes but once a year … but will it be different this Christmas?
Callie Mae Copeland is the only child of affluent landowner, Sullivan Copeland, and his wife, Faye. Because Callie has been doted on her entire life, she is pampered and outspoken. Although the Civil War is looming and is in its second year, it hasn’t affected the Copelands or their neighbors in north Alabama too much … yet.
Once she turns sixteen, Callie realizes the influence she has over boys her age and uses her flirtatious graces to her advantage. She turns her sights on Christmas and is determined to do everything in her power to make the Copeland’s annual Christmas party a success. Although money is tight, she convinces her father to buy material for her stunning new Christmas gown. She can’t wait for the party so that she can impress her beau, his best friend, and all the other guests who are invited.
But following the party, Callie is abruptly faced with the realization that the war is closer than she imagined, and everything is uncertain. A terrifying thought consumes her. Will this be the last Christmas she will ever see in her family’s old antebellum home? Will anything ever be the same again?
My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, received this five-star review recently. The book is the first one in the Renegade Series, which tells the story of a family from north Alabama, and how the Civil War impacts them. Thank you so much, Michele Klawitter, for your wonderful review!
This book is a historical fiction centered around the Civil War. Not for the weak hearted. The POV in this is from the south so keep that in mind. Not for everyone but a good read. Great job to the author.
I just received this amazing review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. This book is the first one in the Renegade Series, which tells the story of a family from north Alabama, and how the Civil War impacts them. Thank you so much, Seth Fishman, for your very in-depth review!
“Upon coming across your book, I was immediately drawn in, and I believe that its message has been effectively communicated to me. Please allow me to discuss the strengths of the book as I share my assessment of it.
Book Review: “A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War” (The Renegade Series Book 1)
“A Beautiful Glittering Lie” offers a compelling and immersive journey back to the tumultuous period of the American Civil War. The novel paints a vivid picture of the country’s division, with its rich historical backdrop and a poignant exploration of the toll the war takes on a family and their community. Through well-drawn characters and detailed storytelling, the book presents an emotionally charged and historically accurate portrayal of a nation torn apart.
Civil War Setting: The book expertly captures the atmosphere and tensions of the American Civil War, transporting readers to the spring of 1861 when the nation is on the brink of a devastating conflict. It provides historical context, illustrating the fracture between the Confederacy and the Union.
Character-Centered Narrative: The novel revolves around the Summers family, with a particular focus on Hiram Summers, a father who makes the difficult decision to enlist in the Confederate Army. The characters are multi-dimensional and relatable, making it easy for readers to connect with their experiences and emotions.
The Impact on Families: The story delves into the personal and emotional toll the Civil War exacts on families and communities. It underscores the sacrifices and hardships endured by those left behind as well as those who go to war. The anguish of separation and the longing for news from loved ones are central themes.
Adventures and Sacrifices: The narrative offers a dual perspective by following Hiram’s journey to the frontlines and his son David’s quest for adventure at home. These parallel storylines allow for a broader exploration of the war’s impact, revealing how both father and son face challenges, make sacrifices, and experience personal growth.
Exploration of Naïveté: The book highlights the innocence and naïveté of a young nation, showing how the outbreak of war forces individuals and communities to confront the harsh realities of conflict. It explores how preconceived notions of war and its glory are shattered by the grim truth.
Historical Authenticity: The novel is well-researched and offers a historically accurate portrayal of the Civil War, from battles and strategies to the social and emotional aspects of the time. This authenticity adds depth and credibility to the storytelling.
“A Beautiful Glittering Lie” is a historical novel that successfully blends an engaging narrative with a poignant exploration of the American Civil War’s impact on a family and a nation. It provides a window into the sacrifices and challenges faced by individuals during this tumultuous period in American history. This book will resonate with readers who appreciate historical fiction that brings the past to life and offers a personal perspective on a defining moment in the nation’s history.
My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, has received more five-star reviews! This is the first book in the Renegade Series, which tells the story of a family from north Alabama, and how the Civil War impacts them. Thank you so much, Jeannine Wickliffe and Anne-Marie Goyette, for your fantastic reviews!
Loved this story of one family’s life during the Civil War from the Confederate side. The Summer’s family lives in Alabama and the father joins the Confederate Army. I greatly appreciate that even though a work of fiction the author makes sure that historical accuracy is given on specific events. The author brings out fact that even though emancipation proclamation was given after war started it only freed slaves in Confederate states and not Union states. The author provides many details that are overlooked by today’s history. This book should be read by all high schools.
This book takes you back in time. You feel the effects the Civil War had on families. You enjoy this well written book as the characters and the time setting come to life.
J.D.R. Hawkins, acclaimed author of the Renegade Series, unveils another remarkable chapter, a masterpiece of historical fiction that captivates readers with its compelling narrative and profound exploration of the human spirit. Double-Edged Sword, released on April 18, 2022, has garnered widespread acclaim and solidified Hawkins’ reputation as a master storyteller.
Focusing on the enduring themes of courage, survival, and the consequences of war, Double-Edged Sword takes readers on a transformative journey through the post-Civil War era. Hawkins expertly weaves a tale that immerses readers in the complex aftermath of the conflict, capturing the essence of a nation grappling with the scars of its past.
From the opening pages, readers are drawn into the world of Confederate cavalryman David Summers, who returns to Alabama with his new wife, Anna. As they navigate the challenges of a society trying to rebuild, they soon discover that the wounds of war run deep. Hawkins skillfully portrays the emotional turmoil experienced by her characters, allowing readers to witness their struggles with empathy and understanding.
The Renegade Series has resonated with readers across the globe, and Double-Edged Sword is no exception. Hawkins’ ability to breathe life into her characters and transport readers to the heart of the Civil War era has earned her a devoted following. Her meticulous research and attention to historical detail further enhance the story’s authenticity, giving readers a captivating glimpse into the past.
The success of Double-Edged Sword can be attributed not only to its engaging storyline but also to Hawkins’ exceptional storytelling prowess. Her vivid descriptions, poignant dialogue, and richly developed characters leave an unforgettable impression on readers.
As the Renegade Series continues to unfold, readers are left with a profound sense of satisfaction and a renewed appreciation for the power of storytelling. Through the pages of Double-Edged Sword, J.D.R. Hawkins reminds us of the indomitable strength of the human spirit and the enduring quest for freedom and justice.
About J.D.R. Hawkins:
J.D.R. Hawkins is an acclaimed author known for her captivating novels on the Civil War era. With the Renegade Series, she has established herself as a master storyteller, blending historical accuracy with compelling narratives. Hawkins’ dedication to her craft has earned her a loyal readership and numerous accolades. Her ability to bring history to life through her characters and stories is a testament to her exceptional talent as an author.
I wanted to share an excerpt from my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, which is the first book in the Renegade Series. This book is an award winner and a bestseller. It is constantly getting rave reviews as well. In this scene, which takes place early in 1862, the protagonist, David Summers, and his best friend, Jake Kimball, set out for adventure, since they are missing out on the fighting.
Ormsby Mitchel’s Union army marched into undefended Huntsville early the following morning. Once David and Jake found out, they couldn’t wait to investigate. They finally found the opportunity to sneak off early one crisp spring morning a week later.
Devising a plan, they told their parents they were staying at each other’s homes for two nights, thus buying themselves extra time for their adventure. With Jake on Stella and David on Cotaco, they stealthily made their way up to Huntsville. Once they arrived at the outskirts of town the following day, they were awed by the spectacle that lay before them. Union soldiers were everywhere, like blue ants on a picnic, swarming about the city streets. No civilians were in sight. David and Jake tied their horses behind a shed half a mile out and headed into town. They slinked past sentries, cowered behind wagons, barrels, and buildings, and hid in the shadows, making their way toward the courthouse. As they crouched behind a cluster of budding shrubs in front of an enormous white Greek-revival house, peering out at a patrol of Yankees marching down the street, they muttered to each other in hushed tones.
“Lookee, there, Zeke,” Jake said, pointing his index finger. “That must be a general. See all them bars on his sleeve?”
“He ain’t a general,” replied David. “He looks too young. Maybe he’s a corporal.”
“Is that a rank jist below a general?”
“Reckon so. I dunno.”
The boys both jumped in astonishment. Whirling around, they saw a young woman, attired in a pastel-colored calico dress, standing in the doorway of a house. She reacted to their wide-eyed surprise by stifling a snicker.
“Come here, boys!”
Sweeping her arm toward herself, she motioned for them to approach, which they did with anxious enthusiasm by quickly bounding up the steps of the portico.
“Miss, how-do,” said Jake. Removing his slouch hat, he swept it across his body, taking a bow. “How may we be of service?”
“What are you two doin’ lurkin’ ’round my mother’s rosebushes?” she asked, thrusting her fists onto her hips in obvious irritation. “I wish you Yankees would jist—”
David and Jake threw glances at each other.
“We ain’t Yankees!” exclaimed Jake. “Whatever gave you that notion?”
She stared at them for a moment before her expression softened. “Oh, kind sirs, beggin’ your pardon, but all I’ve been seein’ this past week is Yankees. I thought y’all might be out of uniform.”
“No, miss,” David said kindly. “We came up to Huntsville because we heard the Yankees took over the town.”
“Well, in that case, please do come in.”
They followed her through the doorway, and once inside, David took in his surroundings. The receiving room opened up with high ceilings, and stained-glass windows occupied the upper echelon. A dark oak winding staircase, complete with an elaborate banister, spiraled upward. Overstuffed red velvet furniture filled the front room, and the floor was draped with oriental tapestries. On the walls were scenic paintings. Brass candlesticks, crystal chandeliers, and dried floral arrangements displayed under glass bell jars accented the décor. The room-length paned windows, framed by heavy burgundy velvet drapes, allowed bright light to beam in. He noticed a box piano in one corner and wondered if the elegant swan in female form standing before him ever graced its ivories.
“Have the Yankees caused y’all much trouble since they arrived?” he innocently inquired.
She nodded mournfully. “That they have.” Unexpectedly, she let out a little sob.
“Don’t cry, miss,” said Jake reassuringly. “I’m sure everything will be all right.”
She forced a smile. “Thank you … Oh, please do forgive my inhospitality. My name is Emily Levinsworth.”
She held out her slender hand, so Jake graciously took it, and kissed the back of it while she watched his movements.
He released her. “I’m Jake Kimball, and this here’s David Summers.”
Taking his cue, David kissed her hand as well.
“We came up to see what y’all have had to tolerate,” Jake explained.
“Please, come on into the kitchen. I’ll fix y’all some sweet tea and tell y’all about it,” she said in invitation.
They cordially followed her. Once David entered the kitchen, she requested he take a seat at the long cherry table with his friend. Emily busied herself momentarily before carrying over a tray with a pitcher and three glasses. She set them on the table, filled each glass, and distributed them.
Taking a sip, Jake complimented her in gentlemanly fashion and asked, “When did the Yankees arrive? We heard it was last Friday.”
“Those beastly men!” Emily’s face turned red with frustration. “They are everywhere! The dreadful brutes even trampled down some of my mother’s rosebushes, but I chased them off with a broom.”
Jake chuckled, but seeing her annoyed glare, he quickly ceased.
“They got here at first light on the mornin’ of the eleventh,” she said forlornly. “It was a surprise to us all.”
David frowned. He had been warned of the impending danger. Why hadn’t the civilians of Huntsville?
“It all started with their takin’ the trains over at the depot,” she explained. “One train got away, but they wounded the poor nigger fireman. We were soon isolated, because the telegraph lines were cut. There were about a hundred and fifty wounded men on one train who had been at the battle at Pittsburg Landin’, and the Yankees took them all prisoner. Can you imagine? Those poor boys already sufferin’, and along come the Federals to keep them from their medicines.”
“That’s horrific,” said Jake dramatically. “How dare they!”
“The poor souls couldn’t even defend themselves. Well, you can imagine how mortified they were!”
“Yes, miss. We surely can,” David agreed.
“They were kept in the depot for over a week, until those heathens finally decided to send them off to Yankee-land, to wither away in some Godforsaken prison.”
“That’s right awful,” David sympathetically remarked.
Emily shook her head in disgust. “Those horrid rascals played ‘Yankee Doodle’ when they came into town.” She angrily scowled. “They marched right past our house in all their mud-splattered glory, and ended up yonder at Court House Square. Some of them even had the audacity to gloat about our capture!”
“Shameful!” exclaimed Jake. He flashed a glance at David, who raised an eyebrow.
“And then they took down our beloved flag, and hoisted up those atrocious stars and stripes.” Emily shook her head in abhorrence. “I only hope the good Lord in Heaven will spare us any more afflictions.”
“Why don’t you jist leave?” asked David.
“My father wouldn’t hear of it!” she exclaimed. “Some of the more prominent citizens in town ran off. But we want to stay and try to protect that which is ours.”
Suddenly there came an abrupt knock at the front door. “Is anyone in there?” a brusque male voice inquired. “Open up immediately!”
Emily’s eyes flew wide with panic. “They’ve come to steal us blind!” she cried. Hurriedly, she gathered her family’s silverware box from a lower drawer of the dining room sideboard and thrust it into Jake’s hands. “Please, Mr. Kimball. Keep this safe from those despicable men!” She motioned toward the back door and scurried off to answer the front.
David and Jake glared at each other. Having no other plan of recourse, they exited out the kitchen door to the back alley, with Jake concealing the awkward bundle inside his coat. They made their way to their waiting mounts and galloped away from the infested town. After traveling a fair distance, they crossed the Tennessee River and continued south for about a mile. Selecting a group of sweetgum trees, recognizable by their star-shaped leaves, the boys dismounted, stepped off thirty paces east from where the trees were clustered, and buried the silverware box. Nightfall was upon them, so they made makeshift beds from horse blankets on the hard, cold ground, dozed for a few hours, and rode back home, exhilarated by their escapade.
JDR Hawkins brings us a really interesting and human look at the Reconstruction era with Double-Edged Sword! With the end of the Civil War, ex Confederate David Summers returns to a war torn home and begins to attempt to pick up the pieces. But when a confrontation erupts with an old enemy, David is forced to stand trial. Hawkins always brings the past to life so vividly and seamlessly, and seeing Reconstruction through David and his family’s eyes was very deep and intriguing! I especially found the court case and the arguments around fairness in a postwar Union to be particularly fascinating, and I honestly had to keep flipping forward to figure out what would become of David! If you love historic fiction, the Civil War era, or even court dramas, definitely dive back into the deep South with Double-Edged Sword!
I recently received another flattering review from a person going by the name Cat Power on Goodreads. This review is in reference to my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, which is the first book in the Renegade Series. Thank you, Cat Power, for your review!
Whilst this isn’t one of my usual genres I received a complimentary copy from the author via Voracious Readers. I’d never thought about the people caught up in the American Civil war as people much like us simply trying to carry on with their lives. They’re usually portrayed as staunch slavers. This book gives a clearer insight and shows ordinary people caught in a fight that’s really not their own. I enjoyed getting to know the boys and seeing them grow up a little. Is an excellent read.