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Book Beat – Songs of the Shenandoah by Michael K. Reynolds

The Hanley Family has survived the Irish Potato Famine, the Mexican-American War, the wild streets of New York and of Gold Rush San Francisco, and many personal trials, but now they face their biggest challenge yet, the Civil War.

Clare Hanley Royce and her husband Andrew struggle to keep their abolitionist newspaper in business in New York City, while Seamus and Caitlin return to her family farm in Virginia. When war breaks out, these siblings are separated on opposite sides of the conflict. Meanwhile, Davin Hanley has returned to New York, rich from Sierra gold but poor in spirit. He’s intrigued by Clare’s young maid, Muriel, who’s studying to be a physician – but seems to be hiding something. As war tries their spirits and tests their character, the Hanleys lean on family ties and their faith in the Lord to see them through.

Songs of the Shenandoah is the excellent conclusion to Michael K. Reynolds’ Heirs of Ireland series. The Civil War backdrop is painted well, and the characters continue their growth and development. Davin and Muriel’s story especially drew me in, with Muriel’s complex character – and it’s always refreshing to read about a heroine who isn’t drop-dead gorgeous. I highly recommend this book, but strongly suggest reading Flight of the Earls and In Golden Splendor first to become acquainted with the characters.