Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: Thorns in Eden and The Everlasting Mountains

Thorns in Eden and The Everlasting Mountains by Rita Gerlach is a 2-in-1 historical collection, set in frontier Maryland and the coast of Cornwall in England at the start of the American Revolution. Combining love, adventure, and suspense with the Christian beliefs brought from England through the teachings of John Wesley, Rita has created an enjoyable and satisfying saga of the Revolutionary period.


John Nash, having built a new life in the Maryland frontier, journeys back to England to see his father before the first shots of the Revolution are fired. Rebecah has lost her father and is now under the control of a domineering patriarch. As their romance unfolds, they become trapped in the schemes of her uncle and immersed in one of the most infamous Indian wars in Colonial history.

 As the firebrands of Revolution grow hot, they marry and work together to build their estate, Laurel Hill. Facing a strange new world, Rebecah experiences the prejudice of being English, but finds friendship and acceptance in the wilds of the Maryland frontier. Joy reins at Laurel Hill when she announces she is carrying a child. Nash, known as Jack, is captain of a band of rangers who protect the frontier families from Indian attack. His friendship with Chief Logan has not prevented the Indian War from reaching their peaceful home along the lush hills of the last outpost.

My thoughts

I enjoyed the story of the Nash and Brent families that spanned two continents and several years leading up to the American Revolution. The romance between John and Rebecah features prominently, but it's the rich historical detail that makes this era come alive - the events leading to the Indian uprising and preaching of John Wesley, for example. Characters are well drawn, and there's complexity and depth in the descriptions of senseless killing, torn loyalties, broken promises, cruelty and betrayal.

John Nash is a commanding figure, whose love for Rebecah "ran as deep waters within his soul." Honorable and fair in his treatments of the Indians, John was like a son to Chief Logan and a brother to Black Hawk. But war changes everything, and when the British began bribing the Indians with the promise of guns and food, massacres took place on both sides. Nash once asked, "Why do the rivers run red?" - to which Black Hawk replied, "The Indian has hated as the white man has hated. Our blood is the same color."

Rita does a good job at creating a sense of place, and the feel of colonial America is seen through Rebecah's eyes as she experiences America for the first time: vast mountains and rivers, the patriotic verve that permeated the air, slaves, Indians, neighbors no longer speaking. "America struggled and clawed toward liberty. . . . Amid the confusion of politics, a tidal wave of hope and courage swept over the country."

Rita writes these encouraging thoughts at the beginning of the novel:

To all those in need of courage in the face of danger, peace in the midst of trouble, comfort in a time of loss, and hope in moments of despair . . .

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart,
all ye that hope in the Lord.
- Psalm 31:24 KJV
I enjoy novels set during the American Revolution and am glad to have discovered the writing of Rita Gerlach. I believe that fans of historical fiction would like this collection, especially those who enjoy the Revolutionary era.
Rita Gerlach 

In Rita's words, taken from her website . . .

In many of my stories, I write about the struggles endured by early colonists, with a sprinkling of both American and English settings. Currently I am writing a new historical series set in the Gilded Age. My books are dramatic in the sense I don't hold back on the trials people historically faced. So you won't find stories made of sugar and syrup.

I'm blessed to live near the Potomac River where some of my novels are set. I live with my husband and two sons, and an affectionate feline named Pookee, in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains in central Maryland.

For more information on Rita and her novels, visit her website at

This book was provided by Rita Gerlach in exchange for my honest review.

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