Reviewed by Tina St.Clair Rice
5 stars *****
Saratoga Letters spans two eras two hundred years apart—1777 battlefield of the Revolutionary war and 1977 reenactment of the Battle of Saratoga. Elaine Cooper has penned two-in-one gripping, heartwarming stories that pulled me into the characters lives from the first page. It has historical detail that paints a vivid picture of a time of war, not only its physical but also the emotional toll it has on the communities, their lives and the soldiers on both sides.
….Part 1: September 19, 1777 Saratoga, New York
As Abigail Gillingham mourns the recent death of her beloved father, her cruel, abusive, loyalist uncle forces her to nurse wounded soldiers—British soldiers—in a nearby British army hospital marquee. He informs the matron of nurses, Mrs. Carberry, that Abigail is “Mrs.” Gillingham as only married women are allowed to nurse the wounded soldiers. Bless Mrs. Carberry's heart, she saw right through Abigail's uncle and will protect her from him. The next days and weeks are hard for Abigail for many reasons, yet she strives to ease the patients suffering and pray over them. I admire her strength and the way her heart changes toward her patients—her enemy—and her faith. Enemy or not, one gentle soldier with intense blue eyes captivates her—how can her heart yearn for a young soldier who is British? Is it possible to find love in the midst of such tragedy and suffering? There is evil present and Abigail must stay on her guard so as not to be caught in its grasp.
British soldier Corporal William Carpenter is seriously wounded and taken to the hospital marquee where he is cared for by a lovely, red-haired nurse. As he watches her care for her patients he finds himself drawn to her but tries to guard his heart as she is married. As he grieves for the loss of so many of his fellow soldiers and healing from his wounds, he also sees an evil that is threatening those around him. But how can he keep it at bay being so weak from his wounds? I love William's heart for others and his strength in the midst of such suffering and pain and his faith. Can he help Abigail when she needs it most?
We get a glimpse of the suffering and pain of those caught in the war. Not only those with physical wounds but wounds of the heart as well. As a retired RN, I found the descriptions of the hospital marquee, how the wounded are cared for, the medicinals used and the nursing practices of the time very interesting. It is heartbreaking enough to see soldiers who are so very young but to see children caught up in the battles truly breaks my heart.
….Part 2: September 1977, Redlands, California and Saratoga, New York
Pediatric nurse Abby Carpenter agrees to accompany her brother, Scott to the bicentenary celebration and reenactment of the Battle of Saratoga in Saratoga, New York to honor their deceased father. Unexpected surgery keeps Scott from going and Abby travels alone. She meets Ian Thacker, a British constable who is also attending the event. Over the next weeks Abby and Ian spend a lot of time together and have a mutual attraction. But how can they have a future together when they live thousands of miles away from each other? I appreciate the letters included in the book that sheds more details regarding Abigail and William, Abby and Ian's stories. Mystery and danger follow and Ian vows to protect Abby at all costs. Twists and turns in the storyline kept me turning the pages with an unexpected ending.
Back Cover Copy:
It is 1777. The Battle of Saratoga, a turning point of the Revolutionary War, encourages the American Continental Army with their first great victory. But there seemed little to celebrate for one patriotic woman forced to nurse wounded British soldiers right in their war camp. Thrust into deception by a cruel Loyalist uncle, Abigail is forced to lie in order to survive, all the while dealing with fears that challenge her faith. Danger stalks her everywhere, yet her salvation springs from an unexpected source.
Two hundred years later, on the anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga, thousands arrive from Europe and the United States to celebrate the event—including descendants from the war. One young American, Abby, meets another offspring of a British soldier. When her life is threatened, Abby turns to the only person she knows at the event—her British ally. Can she trust him with her life? Or will he betray her in the same way Loyalist spies betrayed her ancestors? Perhaps letters from long ago will reveal the truth.
(published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
About the Author:
Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Saratoga Letters, Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. She has been captivated by the history of the American Revolution since she was young. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.
Her upcoming release is Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016), Book 3 in the Deer Run Saga.
You can purchase Saratoga Letters here