Spy of Richmond by Jocelyn Green – Book Review

Spy of Richmond  by  Jocelyn Green

Published By  River North/Moody Publisher   March 01, 2015

Genres:  Historical Fiction, Romance

Pages:  432

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Trust none. Risk all.
Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Compelled to atone for the sins of her slave-holding father, Union loyalist Sophie Kent risks everything to help end the war from within the Confederate capital and abolish slavery forever. But she can’t do it alone.
Former slave Bella Jamison sacrifices her freedom to come to Richmond, where her Union soldier husband is imprisoned, and her twin sister still lives in bondage in Sophie’s home. Though it may cost them their lives, they work with Sophie to betray Rebel authorities. Harrison Caldwell, a Northern freelance journalist who escorts Bella to Richmond, infiltrates the War Department as a clerk-but is conscripted to defend the city’s fortifications.
As Sophie’s spy network grows, she walks a tightrope of deception, using her father’s position as newspaper editor and a suitor’s position in the ordnance bureau for the advantage of the Union. One misstep could land her in prison, or worse. Suspicion hounds her until she barely even trusts herself. When her espionage endangers the people she loves, she makes a life-and-death gamble.
Will she follow her convictions even though it costs her everything-and everyone-she holds dear?

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Story Notes

Jocelyn Green’s fourth and final book in the Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War series is a gripping account of what two couples are willing to do to help bring about the end of the war and the end of legal slavery forever.

Being a great fan of the history of the Civil War and the many accounts of those involved I was excited to read this fictional account of the activities involving Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew. The story does not actually follow Van Lew, rather it is a story of fictional characters around her who contributed to the information she would pass on to those who brought about the end of the war. I was both impressed and intrigued by the amount of research and dating that went on in Ms. Green’s excellent book. Knowing this book followed three others I knew there would be gaps in the story that were to be found in the previous books, but this only marginally decreased my understanding of the characters  and their circumstances presented here. I enjoyed this book in a different way than I have other historical fiction/romances I have reviewed before – seeing very clearly the raw, ugly, truthful way that this war affected the people of our nation. We often hear about the terrible tragedy of slavery and its evils, but we rarely hear of the tragedy that the prisoners of war – both black and white – were treated as less than animals and fed garbage that was not fit to send to the troops. They prevailed, however, as this story shows, by planning ways to escape through hand-dug tunnels and on carts that carried corpses to mass military graveyards. Ms. Green wrote of these truths and I was glad to see that she did not try to romanticize the plight of these men who suffered so greatly. Ms. Green did not leave out those who were prisoners in another way – those who were not allowed to enter the actual military fighting of the war. Women, children, slaves and freemen/women all fought on the home-front to bring comfort to the injured, care for homes and property that were often empressed for army use, and find ways to sent any possible extra materials to those on the front lines. Into this world of tragedy and loss Ms. Green wove a story of courage and love that would face the greatest challenges and still come out intact, if slightly tattered. The thrill of the espionage that her main characters Sophie, Harrison, Bella and Abraham  engage in made this one of the best “thrillers” I have read. I knew a real sense of anxiety as I watched Sophie begin her ciphers of the information she gained from her “relationship” with Rebel Captain Lawrence Russell of the ordnance bureau. Each message passed on to Elizabeth Van Lew increased the chances that Sophie, Bella and many others could be put in prison or hanged for treason. And with Harrison walking the fine line between deception and truth as he seeks out newspaper stories the danger of being caught was made very clear throughout the entirety of the story. I further enjoyed the fact that Ms. Green had her characters keep their faith and convictions throughout the story. Though tested with imprisonment, horrific lashings, slavery, and many other humiliations each of her characters held fast to their faith as their greatest strength and refused to give up their convictions of freedom for all and an end to a war that was slowly destroying the nation. And Ms. Green also had her characters be very human in their momentary doubts, anger, and despair, allowing the reader to identify with each of them. It was in these many challenges that each character found their purpose and grew their faith. The end of the story brings about the best of outcomes for all – Bella and Abraham are reunited, Sophie and Harrison are free to be together now the war is over, and the city of Richmond can rebuild without fear of constant destruction. Ms. Green leaves the reader with a look ahead 25 years ahead as well, following Sophie, Harrison, Bella and Abraham as they visit Libby prison in Chicago that has been rebuilt as a war memorial to those who were held prisoner or died there. By finishing her series in this manner, Ms. Green shows that hope was not lost in spite of the many trials endured and that much good can come from the experiences that one might have in life. I will highly recommend both this book and series to my friends and family as this is definitely one to share.

I received this book from RiverNorth/ Moody Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

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