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My favorite thing about Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League historical romance series (other than the sexy bits) is the way she goes beyond the typical narratives of the Civil War and highlights characters and situations you probably haven’t read about before (but the sexy bits are great too!).

In A Hope Divided, the second installment in the series, main character Marlie is a free black woman, the daughter of a former slave and her white master. As an adult, Marlie is mostly left to live as she pleases, but all that changes when a Union soldier escapes from a Confederate prison and takes shelter in her home. His presence puts Marlie at great risk, and she tries not to get too close to him, but their close quarters and shared intellectual pursuits draw them together. Then the Home Guard, whose job is to round up and punish Confederate deserters, takes up residence in Marlie’s house as well, and their situation becomes truly dire.

Cole says in the Author’s Note, “The pop culture narrative has been flattened into a few two-dimensional stories...I hope this helps Americans see that even when we seem the most divided, there are always, always, people fighting for freedom in places we are told there are none. That should not be forgotten.” You see why I love this author? I’m going to carry that little nugget of encouragement with me and remind myself of it when things seem hopeless.

If you haven’t read An Extraordinary Union, the first book in the series, I highly recommend it as well!