It is a dangerous time for America. The years following the signing of the Constitution have been riddled with British aggressions aimed at breaking the will of the young government.
The divisive evils of greed, slavery, and class distinction cast a dark cloud over the promise "We the People," even as war talk rattles the governing halls. America declares a war to reconfirm her independence . . . a war to protect her "more perfect union:" The War of 1812.
Some believe a more divine purpose awaits the Union in the wake of this war. Such seekers are Jed Pearson, the sensitive heir to both a large plantation and a mysteriously tainted family heritage, and Hannah Stansbury, the visionary woman whose family holds the key to the Pearson riddle.
Treacherous forces on both shores seek to manipulate the war's outcome for their own purposes, ensnaring Jed and Hannah in dangerous intrigue during this pivotal moment in time when the ultimate definition of liberty is about to come to light.
Dark Sky At Dawn tells of the fascinating people, events, history, and spiritual reawakening that precede the compelling moment in time before the guns blazed and the light of the Restoration dawned on a new day.
Dark Sky at Dawn was an absolute joy to read. One of the most impressive aspects of the book was how much research was put in to create such an authentic feel. I read so many books that it seems as if an author just woke up one day and thought "gee, I think I'll write about the Civil War", considering historical authenticity to be merely a minor detail. Notice I say authenticity, not accuracy. This book is a work of fiction, the characters are fiction, so some creative license is expected to insinuate these characters into a real historical period. This is the delicate tightrope an author must balance, between creative license and authenticity--and L.C. Lewis does so magnificently. Aside from the book being a wonderful period piece, there is a heart rending and beautiful love story going on between some of the main characters. There was one detail where I felt the romance fell a bit short: anyone who reads or writes romance knows that a lot of the tension in a romance is created by miscommunication and mixed signals. I felt as if Dark Sky at Dawn stretched the drama a little too far and may have had just one too many missed communication or mixed signal. An aspect of the romance I did love was the unselfishness of the characters, and also the tenderness and friendship between them.
The non-romantic relationships of the characters in the book were rich and complex as well. Few people in the book are cut and dry simple characters of pure good or pure evil, there are many delicious layers to unwrap on each person, and so many stereotypes are broken. I think this book is a great book to reach out to many different audiences. There is great romance, great action, great history, and a great sprinkling of politics. No one aspect overwhelms another, but instead creates a beautiful symphony of genres. There is also some religion in the book, as the time period had great religious upheaval, but it is not pushy, cheesy, or overdone. Overall I loved Dark Sky at Dawn and rate it a 2, Borders with a Coupon. There were just a few things that held the book back from perfection, but stay tuned because I am loving this author and plan to review more of her books in the future and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a 1 in there somewhere :)
Do you agree with my review? Do you think I'm totally off base? Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!
A few words with the author, L.C. Lewis:
The Book Buff: When and why did you begin writing?
L.C. Lewis: I always loved to write. During my adolescence I wrote episodes of my favorite TV shows, dreaming they'd cast me to play a part in my own script! I began writing seriously for a few reasons--I wanted to do something that would make my family proud of me for something other than my divine Sweet Rolls! I also wanted to pave the way for them to follow their own dreams. And I wanted to contribute to the family income. (Little did I know how little authors really bring in.) Two out of three isn't bad, right?
TBB: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
LCL: I learned so much about American history, and my research skills are so improved after six years of digging for facts. Also, one of the hardest things for a historical fiction author is knowing what to selectively neglect. There are so many wonderful details the author loves but the reader won't care about. We have to remember that we are writing for the readers, not to show off everything we've learned.
TBB: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
LCL: The series is set against the backdrop of the War of 1812 and it illustrates an amazing, but overlooked generation--the first American-born generation who are the children of the Founding Fathers and the heirs of this new nation. They are called to defend the very pillars of government their fathers put in place--the democracy, the Constitution, the Presidency, their entire way of life.
TBB: How much of the book is realistic?
LCL: The main characters are fictional but they interact with highly-researched historical figures and the action is written to exquisitely accurate detail. I've visited many of the places mentioned in the books, stomped through forts and battlefields, met with historians and read extensively.
TBB: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
LCL: Jane Austen and Nicholas Sparks. Both write rich, complex characters that get into the readers' hearts. You close the book and feel your sensibilities have been challenged.
TBB: Do you have any advice for other writers?
LCL: Well, I'd say you have to write for the love of it, and write about something you love and know, or at least write about something you love enough to learn about it. When you write you invite the reader to come along on a journey, and that invokes a certain trust. Break that trust with poor research, sloppy facts, weak writing, etc. and you will offend your readers and lose them.
Keep a writer's journal where you jot down interesting characters you see, great words you hear, interesting settings, unique conflict ideas, etc. Keep it handy and pull from it when you write.
Strengthen your core skills--vocabulary, semantics, punctuation, editing, grammar, etc. It will make the process so much less daunting.
Read a lot. You can learn so much about good writing and literary themes from reading well-written books.
If you are interested in learning more about L.C. Lewis, the Free Men and Dreamers series, or any of her upcoming projects, check out http://www.laurielclewis.com/
***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***
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