The Blue Cloak
Published by Barbour Books
Publication Date February 14, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Clean Romance
Setting: Kentucky, Tennessee Federalist Era - US - 1789 - 1803
Written for: Adults
Fiction Based on Strange, But True, History
True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through unique stories of historical romantic suspense. Collect them all and be inspired by the hope that always finds its way even in the darkest of times.
Based on real events beginning in 1797 — Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend’s wedding only to watch it dissolve in horror as the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims. How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?
I would like to thank Barbour Books, Celebrate Lit, Netgalley for giving me a copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
When I was in third grade, I watched a movie about Mary Queen of Scots and Lady Jane Grey. To this day, I remember the final scene and the feeling of numbness and disbelief over the bloodshed that stuck with me for days. . .
As you can see, I’m not predisposed to enjoy violent stories. When I first heard about this story, despite loving The Cumberland Bride, I decided to pass on the opportunity to be an advance reader. I just couldn’t see myself reading it. Later, having heard about the blog tour, I was torn. I waited until the last day to sign up and decided to give it a try. And made sure to read it on a Saturday when I knew I would be able to finish it while it was still daylight. 🙂
I will honestly say that The Blue Cloak was much more gruesome than I had expected. And yet, gruesome isn’t quite the right word. While in some instances, the atrocities committed by the Harpe brothers had a little bit of detail, for the most part, they were simply mentioned. However, they committed so many heinous crimes – targeting men, women, and children, even just to say what they did was overwhelming for me. There were several places in the story where I got nauseous and others in which I was ready to contact Celebrate Lit and beg off the tour. Yet I knew that I now needed closure, so I persisted and finished the story.
You will probably have noticed that I gave the story 4 stars. It was very well written. I loved Rachel and Ben. There was an emphasis on Sally turning to the Lord in repentance and seeking His help. And there was a sweet romance. So, if the details of what the Harpes had done were summarized more, I would have given this a higher rating. Therefore, it merits this rating for those reasons, not the way my heart (and stomach!) reacted to it.
I saw from the author’s note that she almost didn’t tell this story. That it was so evil she struggled with it. Her desire and the reason she wrote it was to show good prevailing over evil. This does come through, though, again, more of the evil was shown than I prefer.
If you enjoy “True Crime” type stories with good prevailing, then I recommend The Blue Cloak to you. – Jean, this might be your type of book! In the meantime, I’m off to read a comedy!!!
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More from Shannon
How dark is too dark for a Christian to write?
That was the question I wrestled with when deciding whether or not to take on the story of the Harpes. The histories in Scripture itself aren’t rated G, but writing fiction requires a level of detail and depth of emotion I wasn’t sure would be wise, or helpful, to explore in this case. But as I prayed and sought the counsel of those whose discernment I trust, the answer came back, overwhelmingly …
Is God stronger than the darkness, or not?
Well, of course He is. And nothing in human history has ever escaped His notice, or taken Him by surprise.
So, was there something redeeming to be found in the tale of the Harpes?
For the first few weeks of research, I walked around in a state of shock at the horror of the historical accounts, but details surfaced that helped me shape my fictional characters Rachel and Ben. With Rachel working in her family’s trading post near the wild frontier town of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ben a lawyer who recently passed the bar, the real-life Hugh Lawson White provided a handy connection point between them. Many other details fell together in ways I had not foreseen when I began developing the story. Sally Rice Harpe, however, rose to the forefront. This was more her story than anyone’s, but realizing I couldn’t properly write the book without using her point of view? That was scary. I knew the moments I’d have to visit, some of them in real-time.
Despite the tragedy, however, I could see an overarching story of spiritual warfare. Felt a growing conviction that prayer must have played a vital role in bringing the Harpes’ reign of terror to an end. So it is my hope that against the backdrop of one of the most chilling episodes of our country’s early history, the hand of God shows clearly, and that yes, the reader finds it redemptive.
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To celebrate her tour, Shannon is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of The Blue Cloak and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.