Monday, June 17, 2019

The Crossing at Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman #Reviewed

Book Description:

Sailing and soldiering around the world has taken Caleb O’Shea far from his native Ireland, so he never imagined that a promise to see a fellow crewman safely home would practically land him on his brother’s doorstep. After spending years away from his family, Caleb isn’t certain what kind of reception he will receive when he steps foot in Natchez, Mississippi. The one thing he knows for sure is that he won’t stay long.
Since her sister was kidnapped by river pirates six months ago, Alanah Adams has taken special care to avoid drawing attention to herself. Those living in the rough-and-tumble settlement of Cypress Creek might even think she’s addled. But when she stumbles into Caleb and his friends in Natchez, she appears to be the picture-perfect lady.
Caleb only catches glimpses of the mysterious and beautiful Alanah before she disappears. But a chance encounter with her at his brother’s logging camp near Cypress Creek leaves him uncomfortable at the thought of the young woman traversing the dangerous area alone. At a crossroads in his life, Caleb must decide whether he wants to give up the worldly adventures he’s been seeking for one closer to home.


This novel is rich in historical detail, setting, unique characters, and themes of redemption.

The Main Characters:

I read along, fascinated, as "Addled Alanah" foraged for healing herbs and brightly colored mushrooms to sell so she could provide for herself, her mentor, Lydia, and her Uncle Jude and sister Betsy. I felt strong compassion for her as an older sister, given the plight of her sister. 

Having met all the other brothers in the O'shea clan, I was eager to meet Caleb, the soldier-for-hire who left home amid flared tempers and broken hearts. Alanah's "forest warrior" persona and Caleb's mercenary background make them an excellent team. They both grow in character-specific areas and this book takes them on that journey.

The Secondary Characters:

The secondary characters in The Crossing at Cypress Creek are all gems. I loved reading about "Looney Lydia," the healer of mixed Native American and African American heritage, and her level-headed approach to tough situations. The farce that she and Alanah play to protect themselves from river pirates added a fun and adventurous aspect to the story, and her interactions with Tiberius, the mercenary moor, sprinkled humor across the pages. 

Betsy brings us the initial conflict with the river pirates, bloody and ruthless men, the leader of whom is Micaiah Jones. Micaiah is a well-rounded villain and a great foil for our hero, Caleb. 

One of the most interestingly conflicted characters is Uncle Jude, a preacher much like the Biblical Jonah, who is called to cry against the wickedness taking place around him. His struggle to offer mercy to the ones who destroyed his family prompts the reader to look inward at their own motives and actions. Jude's role in the ending of the story had me turning pages into the small hours of the night.

Readers will be delighted to have all the characters from earlier books in the series reunited in this book. Pam included throwback moments with Connor and Isabella and Kiera and Quinn that made me smile.

The Romance:

Caleb and Alanah share many kisses and moments of attraction throughout the book. Caleb is a wanderer and offers little commitment to go along with his kisses, which provides conflict in his and Alanah's character arcs. My favorite aspect of their romance was his protectiveness toward her whenever she was in danger and his willingness to sacrifice to save her sister--and then her as well.

The Faith Element:

Jude's story thread, mentioned above, brings continuity and a deep contemplative message to the story. What a character, and what a journey! The redemption message is clearly offered through repentance and faith in Jesus--one thing I deeply appreciate about Pam's books.

The Author's Trademarks:

Adventure, historical grit, gentle humor, and Biblical truth are trademarks that make Pam Hillman's stories go-to fiction for me.

The Stakes:

Life and death stakes are strong in this book. In the 1700s, medicine was primitive, and early settlers in the South undertook dangerous tasks to carry out their everyday livelihood. One particular swamp scene with an alligator paints this aspect in living color. Illness and work-related accidents being common enough, these characters face the added dangers of greedy, bloodthirsty river pirates looking for any victim whose possessions might bring a fine price.

The Setting:

This story's setting is so unique. Unlike any I've read in the Christian Fiction genre. If you've enjoyed the film Davy Crockett and the River Pirates or Distant Drums, starring Gary Cooper, you'll like this adventurous historical tale. 

Comment Fodder:
Have you ever read a story set in the 1700s South? Did the book feature any swamps? What were your favorite things about the setting?

Check out the Pinterest board for The Crossing at Cypress Creek!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher and have voluntarily provided my honest opinion in this review.

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