Friday, June 20, 2008

Jessica James' Shades of Gray ~ Reviewed

Shades of Gray
by Jessica James
Patriot Press;
1 edition (April 12, 2008)

Reviewed by Jessica Dotta

Debut novelist Jessica James writes an epic story of the Civil War that follows the story Andrea Evans, a troubled young woman in league with the North, and of Alexander Hunter, a celebrated Confederate captain as they both struggle to understand the war at large and their lives within.

Though she herself is a well-bred Southern belle, Andrea Evans is no stranger to the cruelty inflicted upon humanity by the South. Deeply wounded by what she experienced growing up on a plantation, she disguises herself as a boy and joins the Union’s army. Her knowledge of the land combined with her willingness to risk her life has made her one of the most useful scouts for the North and a prime target of the Confederate army.

Alexander Hunter is the ideal Southern gentleman. Both handsome and rich, his life has been lived following the code of chivalry manners valued by his peers. His honor demands he fight for his convictions—and most willingly he fights. Under his command, not a man shall die whose death will not be revenged, nor will a charge be made on the enemy that Hunter fears to lead himself. There’s one thorn in his side—the Union’s reckless scout who has not only foiled Hunter’s missions but who has cost him the lives of his men.

Ideals and prejudices are shaken when the scout is caught and Hunter discovers that his mortal enemy is none other than a lady. Andrea, bitter against the South and men in general, now finds herself at the mercy of that which she hates most.

The book was sent to me with the request that I review it from the Christian perspective, and aside from the fact that readers will find Christ’s name taken in vain, I have no reservations recommending it. Little is touched on the spiritual but values such as honor and bravery are woven cleverly throughout. While the writing is good, portions of the books could have been cut as many of the scenes were rehashed arguments between the characters. The characters were well-developed, though at times it felt as if the author spelled out what readers should think about them rather than allowing readers to form their own opinion. The book is geared more towards the romance reader than to the historian but I think both will enjoy the reading. As a whole, an overall good read and I will anticipate more from this author.

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