Published on 16 May 2017
Published by Holly Bush Books
Copy for review provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
1869 – Matthew Gentry joined the Confederate Army at eighteen years of age after an argument with his father, leaving Paradise, his Virginia home and famed horse breeding stables, for the fields of Gettysburg. Having survived the War Between the States, Gentry is haunted by the violence and inhumanity of the war. He continues to roam the country long after the conflict is over, finding solace in the arms of soiled doves and at the bottom of whiskey bottles. Finally traveling home after learning of a family tragedy, he nearly loses his life in a spring-flooded riverbed.
Annie Campbell, lone survivor of her family, lives at a remote farm near the North River, raising pigs and trying to grow enough to feed herself, and to stay out of the cross hairs of the Thurmans, violent men who run the town of Bridgewater. Annie’s secrets threaten her safety, even as she rescues and nurses Matthew Gentry.
Matthew knows he must return to Paradise, to grieve with his family. Will his heart lead him back to Bridgewater and Annie Campbell?
For the Brave is the first full-length novel in Holly Bush’s The Gentrys of Paradise series. Although I read the prequel novella for the series late last year, For the Brave can definitely be read as a stand-alone.
Bush has a very minimalistic writing style. She gives readers just enough information to form a picture in their head. She’s found and mastered the fine line of just enough, not too much and not too little. The pages of For the Brave weren’t packed with prose and details, but they weren’t empty either. I rather enjoyed the imaginative freedom this book gave me!
Although I’ve been seeing more and more Civil War and post-Civil War romances on the market, this is still a pretty uncommon time period for historical romance. For the Brave’s post-Civil War setting, paired with Matthew’s regret over signing up to serve, set the stage for some incredibly engrossing scenes where Matthew mulled over the purpose of the war and what the war meant to the young, Confederate soldiers.
Although Matt and Annie shared a connection for a good part of this book, they both knew that Matt was heading home to Paradise and that Annie was staying at her farm as soon as possible. Annie’s vehemence that she needed to stick out the rough situation at her family’s farm and Matt’s necessity in getting back to Paradise really set and ante very high.
In For the Brave readers get to see an entire sex scene written from the male POV and that sex scene includes Matt’s emotions. It’s so good guys and dolls. So, so good!
We saw substantial personal growth from both Annie and Matt in this book. Matt’s growth was readily apparent as he moved from a drunkard man-whore to someone his mother could be proud of when he returned home. Annie’s growth was less obvious though. She moved the dial from simply surviving to really exploring, and loving, and thriving through the course of For the Brave. Her understated transformation contrasted Matt’s unmistakable changes in a way that made this book hard to put down and hard to get out of my head.
If you aren’t a fan of seeing a H/h in a sexual situation with someone other than their eventual partner, skip the first part of Chapter 1. I’m glad I persevered on since I ended up loving For the Brave, but the first few pages of this book were really, really hard for me to read.
For the Brave is full of really good character development and the irresistible romance of Annie and Matthew. It’s also brimming with historical details though. Bush has clearly done a ton of research on this time period and that thorough research shows on each and every page. For the Brave is perfect for Civil War romance newbies and existing connoisseurs of this time period. If you aren’t sure about reading a romance set in this time period I urge you to give For the Brave a try!