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Leaving Independence by Leeanne W. Smith

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Leaving Independence

Post Civil War – Several US States/Wagon Train

Abigail Baldwyn might not be a widow after all…

Ever since she received word that her husband, Robert, was killed in the Civil War, Abigail has struggled to keep her Tennessee home and family together. Then a letter arrives claiming that Robert isn’t dead, yet he has no plans to return. Desperate for answers, Abigail travels to Independence, Missouri, where she joins a westbound wagon train to find him.

Leading a company along the Oregon Trail isn’t part of Hoke Mathews’s plans. But then the former cavalry scout gets a glimpse of Abigail—so elegant compared to the rest of their hardscrabble wagon community, yet spirited and resilient. Through every peril they encounter—snakebites, Indian raids, fevers, dangerous grudges—his bond with Abigail grows.

Abigail knew this journey would test her courage. Now it’s testing her marriage vows and her heart, daring her to claim a future on her own terms in a land rich with promise.

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The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

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The Ringmaster’s Wife

1926 – Circus circuit

An ounce of courage. A split-second leap of faith. Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.

In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures to call her own, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.

A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.

When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.

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Faith by Lyn Cote

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Faith

 1860s – Several Southern States?

The Civil War battlefield is the last place Quakeress Faith Cathwell thought she’d find herself. But with a gift for nursing, Faith seizes this opportunity to join the fight for abolition―and to search for Shiloh, a freeborn childhood friend who was kidnapped and sold south by unscrupulous slave catchers.

Knowing it’s much too dangerous for her to search enemy territory alone, Faith enlists the help of Colonel Devlin Knight, who is indebted to her for saving his cousin’s life. A career soldier, Dev is committed to the preservation of the Union but conflicted about freeing his own slave and confidant, who plans to enlist as soon as Dev gives him manumission papers.

Blazing a trail east with the rest of Grant’s army, Dev and Faith fight their personal battles―and a growing attraction to each other. When beliefs clash and passions flare, they quickly find that the only thing more dangerous than the war surrounding them is the battle within their hearts.

The Express Rider’s Lady by Stacy Henrie

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The Express Rider’s Lady

1860 – Missouri to California

Delsie Radford is going to make it to California, no matter the danger or difficulty. Her father may have kept her and her sister apart, but Delsie refuses to miss her sister’s wedding–even with only eighteen days to get there. And she’s found the perfect escort in Pony Express rider Myles Patton. 

Myles can’t believe it when a pretty socialite hires him to take her cross-country through rough terrain and dangerous territory. Surely she’ll quit before they reach their destination–he’s known girls like her before. But the longer they ride together, the more Myles notices Delsie’s toughness and kindness beneath her polished exterior. And though they may be worlds apart…they might just be perfect for each other.

Valley of the Shadow by J. M. Hochstetler

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Valley of the Shadow

1777 – Many American States

Can he save them both from the Valley of the Shadow? Following a humiliating defeat at Philadelphia and a rival’s stunning victory at Saratoga, Washington’s army faces yet another bitter winter, this time at Valley Forge. Meanwhile, General Jonathan Carleton races to save Elizabeth Howard from the horrors of the prison ships in the British stronghold at New York, while British General William Howe plots to execute them both.

From heart-pounding battles on the high seas, to the rigors of Valley Forge and the Shawnee’s savagely fought wars to preserve their ancestral lands, Valley of the Shadow continues the thrilling saga of America’s founding in an inspiring story of despair, courage, and triumph.

The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser

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The Journey of Josephine Cain
Post-Civil War – Several States

A pampered socialite embarks on a journey to the Wild West where her life is changed forever.

A setting populated by hundreds of laborers, outlaws, and Indians is hardly the place for a wealthy general’s daughter from the nation’s capital. But Josephine Cain is determined to visit her father, who supervises the day-to-day work involved in the grandest ambition of post-Civil War America: the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Life with the railroad is far from the proper life Josephine is used to, and she faces deadly gunfights, harsh weather, and vigilante uprisings. She is torn between the West and the East; between her privileged upbringing and the challenges of a new frontier; between the pull of the suitable beau her parents approve of and an attraction to a rough but charming Irish railroad worker. But if Josephine is willing, and courageous, she just might find a new life, a unique purpose . . . and true love.

Prairie Song by Mona Hodgson

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Prairie Song: Hearts Seeking Home Book 1
1866 – Missouri to California

Though it means saying goodbye to the beloved friends and spiritual mentors of her St. Charles, Missouri quilting circle, Anna Goben is certain that she needs to enlist her family in the Boones Lick Company wagon train. The loss of her beloved brother in the Civil War has paralyzed her mother and grandfather in a malaise of grief and depression and Anna is convinced that only a fresh start in the Promised Land of California can bring her family back to her. Although the unknown perils of the trail west loom, Anna’s commitment to caring for her loved ones leaves no room for fear—or even loving someone new.

During the five-month journey, trail hand Caleb Reger plans to keep a low profile as he watches over the band of travelers. Guarding secrets about his past and avoiding God’s calling on his life, Caleb wants to steer as far from Anna as she does him, but she proves to be just as he assessed her from the beginning— independent, beautiful trouble.

Led by a pillar of hope, the group faces rough terrain that begins to take a toll on their spirits. Will the wilderness of suffering lead them astray, or will the gentle song of love that echoes across the prairie turn their hearts toward God’s grace and the promise of a new home?

The River Palace by Gilbert Morris

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The River Palace: A Water Wheel Novel
1865 – Several US States, Mississippi River

The Civil War has ended when Yankee Captain Dennis Wainwright and Confederate Sergeant Gage Kennon cross paths. Forming an unlikely alliance, their travels become very interesting when they stumble across a band of Gypsies. Gage saves an older Gypsy woman from a terrible accident, earning the respect, but not the friendship, of her granddaughter Nadyha. Later Gage finds himself in the unlikely position of saving an innocent young woman from being arrested and possibly hanged.

These unlikely people seem bound together mysteriously by unaccountable forces; but always Gage Kennon, a humble and devout Christian man, is at the center of the turns and twists their lives take. The road soon leads them to a grand showboat, the Queen of Bohemia, and exciting journeys on the Mississippi River.
The River Palace is based on a very old story, that of the Good Samaritan, but it is also a new story of faith, romance, and classic adventure from beloved Christian author Gilbert Morris.

Westward Hearts by Melody Carlson

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Westward Hearts (Homeward on the Oregon Trail)
1854 -Several US States

Kentucky, 1854–Elizabeth Martin has mourned her husband’s death for three years, but now she feels ready to fulfill the dream they had shared–to take their two children west. The dream becomes reality when her middle-aged parents and bachelor brother surprise her with the news that they want to go as well.

After converting three of their best wagons to prairie schooners and thoroughly outfitting them, the little party travels from Kentucky to Kansas City, where they join a substantial wagon train. Elizabeth soon finds herself being drawn to the group’s handsome guide, Eli Kincade.

The long journey and deepening relationships challenge the travelers to their core, and Eli’s mysterious past leaves Elizabeth with more questions than answers. She knows there’s no turning back, but she wonders, What have I gotten myself into?

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green

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Wedded to War (Heroines Behind the Lines)
 1861 – Several US States

It’s April 1861, and the Union Army’s Medical Department is a disaster, completely unprepared for the magnitude of war. A small group of New York City women, including 28-year-old Charlotte Waverly, decide to do something about it, and end up changing the course of the war, despite criticism, ridicule and social ostracism. Charlotte leaves a life of privilege, wealth-and confining expectations-to be one of the first female nurses for the Union Army. She quickly discovers that she’s fighting more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Corruption, harassment, and opposition from Northern doctors threaten to push her out of her new role. At the same time, her sweetheart disapproves of her shocking strength and independence, forcing her to make an impossible decision: Will she choose love and marriage, or duty to a cause that seems to be losing? An Irish immigrant named Ruby O’Flannery, who turns to the unthinkable in the face of starvation, holds the secret that will unlock the door to Charlotte’s future. But will the rich and poor confide in each other in time?

Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey’s letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured.

Jocelyn Green’s debut novel is endorsed by historians and professors for its historical accuracy and detail, by award-winning novelists for its spell-binding storytelling, and by entertainment journalists and book club leaders for its deep and complex content, perfect to share and discuss with others.

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