Winberry ran his gaze from the woman’s pale, strained face to the weapon in her
hand, hoping to God his meddling was not a huge blunder.
acted on his best instincts honed by his experience at war. He had expected
thieves to cut and run at the first sign of a threat, but this man had chosen to
stand and resist. Had he misinterpreted the situation, which had seemed clear
cut before? Did he kill the woman’s husband, for God’s sake?
“People warned me of bushwhackers in the area, and it appeared… I saw
them abusing you, and I…” Blake nodded toward the dead man, fearing to ask. “Did
you know him?”
until he accosted me.” She let out a shaky breath. “I believe you saved my life.
Thank you, Captain—“
flooded through him. “Winberry. Blake Winberry.”
Mrs. Rogers.” She swayed on her feet.
“Better sit down.” He stepped forward to take her arm but she backed
up a step. She moved without his assistance to a grassy spot at the road’s
shoulder, where she folded to the ground.
don’t you give me that revolver?” he asked. “You might set it off by
stared at him and gripped it even tighter, if that was possible. “What if they
where you point it. Please.”
trace of a smile crossed her face. Now that he had the situation in hand, he
took notice that she was the loveliest vagabond he had ever seen. Her heavy dark
hair, undone, framed her upturned face. Her plain widow’s weeds did not entirely
obscure her fine figure. “Are you afraid I will shoot you, Captain Winberry?”
“Should I be?”
did not drop her smile, nor did she reply, but met his gaze straight on, letting
him make his own conclusions.
reciprocated the paltry smile, respecting her reasonable fears. “Stay there.
I’ll put your things in order.”
tethered his mare, Magic, to the rear of the wagon and looked over the dead
bushwhacker’s horse. The chestnut gelding had taken a few pellets in its neck,
but the trickle of bleeding had slowed. Blake raised his hand to rub the
animal’s nose but it snorted and backed away as far as the rein would let it.
“Easy there,” he said. “You’ll be all right. We’ll turn you into a good honest
he reloaded his own revolver, a detail he dared not overlook in case the
bushwhackers scraped up the courage to return. Then he gathered the woman’s
possessions from the ground and set them back into the wagon. He hefted the
shotgun and checked the breech. Empty, but it stank of freshly burnt powder.
Finally he directed his attention to the dead bushwhacker. It
wouldn’t be right to ask Mrs. Rogers to carry it in her wagon. Tomorrow would be
soon enough to send men to throw dirt over the body. He went through the dead
man’s pockets as any good Confederate would, but did not find identification or
valuables. He rolled the body into the ditch where it flopped in a tangle of
arms and legs.
stared at the dead heap for a moment, reflecting that he felt nothing. No
regret, anger, pity or revulsion. Nothing. He had already exhausted such
feelings on dead friends and a dead brother. He had none left over for dead
Rogers still sat quietly on the grass, legs tucked underneath her skirts,
watching him. He had seen many female refugees like her, in both Virginia and
South Carolina, wandering about in their wagons carrying all they had left. God
forbid his own family should ever have to go through that.
He walked over to
her and hunkered down so he did not force her to look up at him.
gather you were headed toward Columbia,” he said. “So am I. My home is there,
and I will escort you in.”
gave her dark eyes a soft glow. “That is kind of you, Captain Winberry. I don’t
know how to thank you for all you’ve done.”
you have need of it, my family has a spare room.”
of color came to her cheeks, and she glanced away from him.
“It is proper
enough. My father, my mother and my sister all live there.”
When she looked
back at him, her eyes were moist. “I had not made any prior arrangements. If it
isn’t an inconvenience…”
settled then. Let’s go.” He stood up, offered his hand and this time she
Once again, Lydia
Hawke has captured the drama of the last horrific months of the War Between the
States and the hatred and fear that surrounded that terrible time in our
The characters in
her novel were well-rounded and well researched and were the embodiment of the
culture of that era. Her description of refugees as they fled with what meager
possessions they were able to salvage from the carnage of their burned out
homes, the helplessness felt by those who lost everything dear to them and their
fear for their absolute survival when the boundaries of lines changed and they
were invaded by the Yankees. The single-mindedness of the surgeons and medical
teams ignoring all that was going on around them and being color-blind to the
uniforms of those patients brought in for treatment. A very vivid picture was
painted that will continuously bring forth much thought from any student of
I look forward to
the movie when it is released. If the producers follow the book in its
entirety, it will certainly be worthwhile to watch.
Florida Reenactors Online
Georgia had Gone With The Wind. Now,
South Carolina has Firetrail. Never was there a time more traumatic in the
annals of American history and Firetrail has captured it all.
out of their homes by Sherman’s torch wielding troops, all of the state is swept
before the unstoppable horde. The good and the evil, the truly heroic and the
unspeakably devilish all people this epic book.
Ms. Hawke’s characters
rival her intriguing plot; a self-reliant young widow and a noble Confederate
cavalry captain thrown into a hurried marriage and then swept apart by the tides
of war. You will weep with Judith as everything she loves seems to be destined
to be swept away by forces she cannot understand let alone control. You will
agonize with Blake as he watches the best and the bravest of the South’s young
men under his command fall in battle. You will understand Lexi, Blake’s teenaged
sister, as she struggles against the restraints placed on women of her time and
applaud as she breaks free and runs away to join the Confederate cavalry.
At first thought you would believe General Sherman is the ultimate evil
but Firetrail reminds that sociopaths are not restricted to the present day.
Beyond any evil inflicted by the armies and their commanders are the “bummers,”
those who preyed on either side and wrought havoc in their wake equal to or
greater than the army they followed. Harry Bell is an accurate if horrific
characterization of these parasites. He wears a Union uniform but his only
allegiance is to his own vicious appetites.
Beware! Do not start this
book unless you have time to finish it at one sitting. You will not be able to
put it down until the last page is turned. This book is a must read for romance
lovers, action adventure fans, Civil War buffs, students of human nature and
anyone who likes to read a really great story.
Kathleen Walls, author
of Last Step, Georgia's Ghostly Getaways, Kudzu, Man Hunt - The Eric Rudolph
Story, and Finding Florida's Phantoms.
"Finely blends historical action with
Judith Rogers lost
her husband, and consequently her home and security, to the Civil War. She faces
her uncertain future, hoping a relative will grant her residence. An arduous
journey through South Carolina in the shadow of Sherman's approach, however,
proves perilous when a group of marauders attempts to take her scant belongings,
and much more. She is fortunate handsome Rebel Captain Blake Winberry happens
along the scene in time to help.
Blake's chivalry, though, transcends the
standard "knight in shining armor" persona. He is immediately drawn to the
refined Judith and, despite being on active duty, is determined to guarantee her
security. The last thing Judith expected from him was a marriage proposal after
a few days' acquaintance, but she finds Blake's charm and looks impossible to
resist. Wedded bliss is threatened as Judith wonders if Blake's husbandly
attentions are genuine, or if she is being used to compensate for the loss of
Blake's previous love.
Set in the tempestuous South during a
tempestuous time, Lydia Hawke's Firetrail finely blends historical action with
Through interweaving the passion of
war with passions of the heart, Hawke offers a romantic story that will satisfy
Civil War enthusiasts as well as romance lovers.
2004 Kathryn Lively
Rogers, a beautiful young widow, desperately wants to stay ahead of the
advancing Union army, so despite the danger, she travels alone in her mule-drawn
wagon. On a desolate stretch of road outside of Columbia, South Carolina, she is
accosted by a band of renegades. Judith puts up a fight, but she can’t hold off
her attackers for long. Just when the men are about to take what they want, a
dashing Confederate captain comes galloping to Judith’s rescue.
Captain Blake Winberry
finds the beautiful refugee he rescued fascinating. When he learns that she has
no place to stay in Columbia, he offers her a room in his family’s home.
Although he’s attracted to Judith, Blake doesn’t do anything about it because
his heart already belongs to Sally Dubose, his ex-fiancée. The heartbroken Blake
plans to woo Sally away from her new beau.
When Blake fails to win
Sally back, he turns to Judith. Both Blake and Judith hunger for love, so they
quickly marry before he returns to the battlefield. Will Judith be able to make
Blake forget about Sally, or will he return to Sally’s arms when the fickle,
conniving girl decides that she wants him back?
Firetrail is a magnificent
Civil War romance. It’s not a story of fiery passion, but a tale of friendship
growing into love. Blake and Judith marry soon after they meet, hoping to find
security and comfort. Judith seems to be in love with Blake from the start,
while he spends almost the entire book pining for Sally. Normally, this would
bother me, but since Ms. Hawke does such a wonderful job of making Blake a
likable, honorable man, it’s easy to forgive him for sometimes being a cad.
Judith is a delightful heroine. She possesses plenty of strength and
Firetrail sends the reader back to the South in
the midst of the Civil War. Lydia Hawke cleverly weaves history into the story
in a way that is interesting and compelling. She brings the story to life in
authentic details so vivid I itched thinking about the lice-infected clothes. In
my mind's eye I could see the smoke of the gunfire on the battle field as the
men fought face to face, and smelled the burnt gun powder. I could hear the
screams of agony from men wounded and left to die slow deaths.
Captain Blake Winberry and widowed Judith Rodgers are brought together by events
of the war and kept apart for the same reasons. Firetrail is a story that takes
us on a journey through the struggles of war, betrayal, and to the satisfying
ending of finding love in the war-torn South.
It is a book I would read again
J. Wilson, Author
Confederate Captain Blake Winberry is
on his way home for a brief visit after fighting in Virginia. He plans on
convincing his fiancée that she really doesn’t want to marry another man. Almost
to his destination in South Carolina, he encounters a lone woman doing her best
to ward off an attack by three renegades. After rescuing her, he brings her to
his family home.
Judith Rogers is outmatched by the three men
threatening to rob her. So far she has been able to fend off the renegades, but
she knows she is in trouble. She has lost so much to the war already, her home,
most of her worldly possessions, her husband. She cannot bear to lose anything
more, but realizes her situation is probably hopeless. The arrival of the
handsome soldier seems almost to good to be true, especially when he offers her
a warm bed and a hot meal with his family after chasing off the
Unable to change his fiancée’s mind, Blake realizes he really
wants a wife and family of his own. He feels a special bond with Judith that he
cannot explain as well as admires her strong will and independence. Blake
decides to propose marriage and much to his surprise and pleasure, she
Blake and Judith face the trials and horror of war as South
Carolina is invaded by the Yankees. Though married within a few days of meeting,
theirs is a love that grows and endures in the face of destruction and loss
occurring all around them.
Lydia Hawke’s debut novel is a Civil War
story that will touch your heart on all levels. It is beautifully written and
rich in historical detail with characters that are memorable. Firetrail is a
story definitely worth reading and will stay with you long after you have turned
the last page.
By Brooke Wills, Romance Junkies
Ms Hawke has written an
exceptional novel in FireTrail. From the very beginning you are pulled into the
battle scenes. They are so believable that you actually feel you are in the
fight. You learn the struggle on both sides of the war. It seeps with the
tradition of the South. Your heart bleeds for the tragedy of this war. Lydia
Hawke's knowledge of the Civil War gives this book real authenticity. Her hero
and heroine are very honorable, endearing and strong. For those who love Civil
War novels this is a must read. You won't be able to put it down until its very
satisfying ending. Make sure you have free time when you start this exciting
novel. I look forward to more books by this very talented author.
Judy Leigh Peters www.judyleighpeters.com
Meet Captain Blake Winberry, Captain in the
Confederate army. The battles he's fought in, and the haunting experience of
watching his brother die in his arms, have numbed his mind to the killing he has
to do to stay alive. Mrs. Judith Rogers is now alone by no fault of her own.
This war has made her a young widow, who now has no alternative but to venture
on a journey to find her only relative an aunt, but encounters ruthless
bushwhackers in her quest to do so.
A deadly encounter draws these two together,
and what ensues is a moving story of the sacrifices, love and hate, that
continually tries to draw them apart.
Within the first few pages of
FIRETRAIL, Author Lydia Hawke, manages to draw the reader back in time,
to experience first hand, the victories and horrors of the Civil War era. It's a
compelling depiction of the most deadly war our country has ever fought on our
own soil. A novel you'll want to read over and over again.
Reviewer, Susan R. Sweet, author of A Deadly Agent and
Adrift, by Wings ePress
With the annual Olustee
Battle Festival just around the corner, our thoughts return to our Florida history, particularly the War Between The States. No Floridian needs reminding that ours was the
only capital not taken by the Union, although much of the state fell. A new
novel chronicles the lives of a handful of southerners during the last weeks of
Both readers of
historical fiction and romance fans should check out Firetrail, by
Florida writer Lydia Hawke. The author knows her
stuff, as she’s an avid Southern history student. Her nonfiction articles have
appeared in Civil War magazines and other publications.
Well-researched and rich
in authentic detail, Firetrail is a
page-turner. Ms. Hawke’s masterful use of language paints a vivid picture of
battle and desolation. Her opening scene sets the stage:
So far Judith Rogers had managed to stay well ahead
of the advancing enemy. She felt safer on the move, away from peril, though the
zone of sanctuary was continually shrinking…
That shrinking zone of
sanctuary is the encroaching Union army, led by General Sherman.
During the last weeks of conflict, before General Lee’s surrender, Blake and
Hunter fight hunger, the elements, and despair as much as they battle the
Yankees. As with other wars, both find themselves hastily wed, grabbing brief
respites of comfort and love from their harsh military lives.
But this story is more
than a romance. It’s a satisfying story of hope and faith, of duty and honor.
Blake, Judith, Blake’s sister Lexi, and Hunter suffer and lose so much that is
dear to them but carry on until the end against abysmal odds. In a way they are
a metaphor for the South — they lose the war, but they are never defeated.