Wednesday, January 2, 2019

#BookReview: Leaving Independence by Leanne W. Smith

Historical Romance

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Abigail Baldwyn might not be a widow after all.…

Ever since she received word that her husband, Robert, was killed in the Civil War, Abigail has struggled to keep her Tennessee home and family together. Then a letter arrives claiming that Robert isn’t dead, yet he has no plans to return. Desperate for answers, Abigail travels to Independence, Missouri, where she joins a westbound wagon train to find him.

Leading a company along the Oregon Trail isn’t part of Hoke Mathews’s plans. But then the former cavalry scout gets a glimpse of Abigail—so elegant compared to the rest of their hardscrabble wagon community, yet spirited and resilient. Through every peril they encounter—snakebites, Indian raids, fevers, dangerous grudges—his bond with Abigail grows.

Abigail knew this journey would test her courage. Now it’s testing her marriage vows and her heart, daring her to claim a future on her own terms in a land rich with promise.

I feel like I’m cheating in counting Leanne W. Smith’s Leaving Independence as my first book of 2019. Strictly speaking, I started the novel last year.

In the spirit of full transparency, I also want to note I listened to the audio edition of this book and am delighted with my decision to do so. Nicol Zanzarella has a lovely voice, and I felt the cadence and tones she employed complimented the story quite nicely. As of January 2019, the novel and its audio are also available through Kindle Unlimited, so be sure to check it out if you are enrolled in the service.

I found the love story predictable, but there is much more to the book than the relationship between Abigail and Hoke, and I liked how the novel’s key twist played out toward the end. I was particularly impressed with the amount of historic detail worked into the novel and found myself drawn to Corrine, a character who prominently featured in Smith’s follow-up, A Contradiction to His Pride.

In terms of content, readers should be aware that the novel has less to do with the Civil War or Reconstruction than it does westward expansion. The religious elements of the story were light, the romantic storyline tame, and I appreciated the authenticity of the wagon train attack and the fact that Smith didn’t shy from the more difficult realities of the journey.

Hard to put down, well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Kindle Unlimited
Read: January 2, 2019

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