Monday, November 9, 2015

REVIEW: By the Sword by Alison Stuart

By the Sword
by Alison Stuart

Publisher: Escape Publishing
Page Count: 279
Release Date: March 22, 2015
Format: Kindle

How got: personal library; via Amazon

First attention getter: love the author


From GoodReads:

England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war. The country will be divided and lives lost as Charles II makes a last bid to regain his throne.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family. To protect the people she cares about, she will need all her wits to restore its fortunes and fend off the ever-present threat of greedy neighbours.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King's cause now returns to England to garner support for the cause of the young King. Haunted by the demons of his past, Jonathan risks death at every turn and brings danger to those who love him. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her the hope for his future, and a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester, Jonathan must face his nemesis, and in turn, learn the secret that will change his life forever. But love is fragile in the face of history, and their lives are manipulated by events out of their control. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

Another winner from Stuart!!! This woman stands almost without equal in being able to blend romance, historical detail, and three-dimensional characters into one cohesive whole. Her books are written as historical romances; however, they stand as so much more in my humble eyes.

First off, I love how careful she is to set her timeframe right, get the details correct, and bring her history to life. Not many historical romances are set during the English Civil War to begin with. But Stuart goes further by incorporating actual events, real details about daily life in the timeframe, and showing the devastating effects that a civil war would have on her characters. Her books could read almost as straight historical fiction and that’s not something that can be said for every romance novel.

Her leads and other characters are such scarred individuals, having experienced the horror of civil war, battle, and gore. They’ve seen death and loss up close, changing them fundamentally. I think this adds depth to them in the current age and in the relationships that develop. Both Kate and Jonathan are strong personalities that carry the story with ease. The reader can’t help but root for them as war variously tears them apart and brings them back together.

Jonathan and Kate create such a strong blend of courage, vulnerability, and love. Their romance is emotionally resonant and vibrant. Even though they come from opposite ends of the conflict, they find enough middle ground in family and common principles to create a strong foundation for their relationship, enough that it’s able to withstand disagreements and personality conflicts. By the time the end of the novel rolls around and we’ve reached our emotional apex, the reader has gone on a unique and incredible romantic journey.

This is just another example of why I love Ms. Alison’s romances. She creates strong characters and relationships, giving all a concrete strong basing in historical fact and detail. I experience every breathe and exchange, becoming invested in the romantic journey all the more. Highly, highly recommended for historical romance lovers everywhere!!


  1. Thanks for this great review, Sarah. I've not ready any books by this author and have added this one to my wish list.

    1. Thanks, Yvonne! It's definitely a great one. I just love this author.

  2. Sarah, do you feel that Kate and Jonathon's romance was the central focus of the story or was it overshadowed by the historical events?

    1. Definitely not overshadowed. A rich historical setting and story only enhances a romance for me, and did so here. Kate and Jon's story is still very much the center and heart of the book.