Colors of Truth: The Carnton Series, Book 2 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
In a town battered and bruised by war, one woman embarks upon an impossible search - and one man must face the past in the very place that almost destroyed him.
Tennessee, 1866. According to the last letter Irish immigrant Catriona O'Toole received from her twin brother, Ryan, he was being dispatched to Franklin, Tennessee, where - as a conscripted Confederate soldier - he likely endured the bloody Battle of Franklin that claimed the lives of thousands. Catriona leaves behind the lush green of their Irish homeland in search of him, with nothing to her name except the sum of cash Ryan sent to their family. Now the sole provider for her seven-year-old spitfire sister, Nora, Catriona hopes to reunite the siblings - the only surviving members of their devastated family.
Wade Cunningham is a former Federal soldier who now works for the newly formed United States Secret Service and is trying to uncover counterfeiting rings in the postwar South. In order to infiltrate their sophisticated enterprise, he must pose as a former Confederate in Franklin - a town where counterfeit greenbacks run rampant. When Wade meets Catriona, he is immediately intrigued by her and the little redheaded scamp in her care - but what he doesn't anticipate is that the cash in Catriona's possession is some of the most convincing counterfeit money he's ever seen. Soon the object of Wade's affection is also the suspect in a major crime - one he's expected to prosecute.
With rich historical detail and multifaceted prose, USA Today best-selling author Tamera Alexander tells a riveting tale of truth, betrayal, and unlikely romance that unveils the many shades of God's perfect redemption.
The Carnton series are stand-alone novels, meaning they are part of a series but can be enjoyed individually.
Christmas at Carnton, a novella
With This Pledge, book one
Colors of Truth, book two
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|Listening Length||15 hours and 25 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 11, 2020|
|Publisher||Fountain Creek Press|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #53,992 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#190 in Christian Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,313 in Christian Historical Fiction (Books)
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Top reviews from the United States
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As always, Tamera's characters are well-developed, relatable in their humanity, and in general, spot-on. Catriona O'Toole had my empathy and sympathy from page one, as I could see myself so much in her. Life has handed Catriona one bad turn after another, yet she's so determined not to get knocked down, she can't or won't accept help and kindness when it arrives. *Convicted blushing.* That said, I loved her spitfire attitude, her tireless devotion to Nora, and the way she embraced her new country while keeping Ireland close to her heart. In fact, the Irish element in Colors of Truth won extra points because I so love all things Irish. Finally, an author spent the time on those elements that I feel they deserve.
I would normally talk about the hero--in this case, Wade Cunningham--next, and I will get to him. But I have to stop and talk about Nora O'Toole first. She's only seven, but she might be my favorite character, which is no easy feat. I've seen a lot of authors write kid characters well, but Tamera absolutely nailed Nora. She's not at all perfect, but she's not a total brat, either. She's spunky to the point of naughtiness, but her trauma makes you understand exactly why the naughtiness happens, without excusing her behavior. And although Nora can be irascible at times, she has a lovely heart. I saw it in the way she doted on Virginia and the way she threw herself into Wade's affections, while simultaneously struggling with her new role in Catriona's life. The sisterly relationship is written beautifully here as Catriona tries to be Nora's parent. It's heart-wrenching for both sisters, but warm and touching, too.
Wade Cunningham definitely grows into his role as hero, especially the hero the O'Toole sisters need. I don't think he's as three-dimensional as he could be; a lot of his motivation gets repeated over and over, and he doesn't seem to grow as much as Catriona does. That said, Wade does have a highly interesting trajectory as a new Secret Service agent. His compassion and tireless championing of freedmen made me root for him. His deep-rooted faith plays well against Catriona's spiritual travails. And while their romance is pretty understated for a Tamera Alexander book, it comes through well. Actually though, Wade's non-romantic interactions kept me the most interested in him, like when he talked with Nora or worked through the counterfeiting case. I don't know if that's a strength or a weakness--maybe both?
The spiritual threads were enjoyable also, if again, somewhat weaker than I like. In particular, I cheered to see Catriona discover the truth about how eternal destiny works, after being taught that purgatory was the only viable option for her loved ones, for whatever reason. And again, Wade's faith was a major selling point, often because of the tension he faced. Deception is never right, but when it helps or saves others, how does one handle it? That question, plus Tamera's theme of the lies we are told or tell ourselves, makes for some great discussion fodder.
Now, I do want to talk about the setting--a Southern plantation--and the controversy it caused. This book and the Carnton series conclusion were both "cancelled" because "a Southern plantation setting will not be well received." While I understand that concern, I have to say, do not let that put you off. Tamera actually does a wonderful job showing both the evils of slavery and why the triumph of freedom and righteousness are so important. Never are black characters shortchanged; they might be secondary and they might be former slaves, but they are three-dimensional people with needs, wants, and opinions of their own. Tempy is probably the best example because she's in the book the most, but you'll find some other great examples in Isham Pender and even Delphia. I completely disagree with the original publisher's decision to "cancel" these books, because erasing history won't change anything. What will change things are attitudes like Tamera Alexander's. I don't know how she could've been any more respectful of the time period, yet clearer on how humans should be treated regardless of color. Bravo.
With all that said, why not give the book five stars? Well, I desperately wanted to. But as I said, there are some weak characterizations and spiritual threads. I'll chalk that up to the stress of what the poor book went through. I also felt that some plot elements came a little out of left field. For instance, there's a scene where Catriona reads Tempy's journal, after noting that she had permission. Okay--when did she get permission? And why hadn't we seen Tempy's journal up to then--or in other scenes except the one? The same is true with the "secret society" thread; Wade finds someone connected to it, says he's going to do his part to stop it--and that's it. Considering what that "society" is, and the impact it has on black people, I wanted more development and more justice there. It seems like Tamera got a little overwhelmed and tried to put too many threads in, which took away from the important ones. For instance, the counterfeiting case is written as important, but it didn't keep me guessing. Although, I did appreciate the twist with Ryan, and I did appreciate that Catriona and Wade were mostly honest with each other throughout, and understood each other's motives, rather than blowing up, breaking up, and moping and doping around.
Overall then, Colors of Truth is still a strong, well-written, and dare I say vital book, especially now. You'll enjoy it, but what I like even more is that it will make you think. Read and savor--and support Tamera Alexander as she finishes the Carnton trilogy next year. I for one can't wait to see Nora all grown up!
A few other memorable quotes I enjoyed:
"I'm careful. And cautious. That's better than worried any day."
"Drink in beauty wherever you can find it, son. And be grateful. Beauty is a treasure and a foretaste of heaven."
"The grave wasn't the end of life. For those who trusted Jesus, it was only the beginning."
"And because as hard as it is to face the truth, it's even harder to live with a lie."
Thank you dear author Tamera Alexander for using your gift of storytelling to touch my heart with every story!
Top reviews from other countries
Set after the Civil War, the author takes on several heavy hitting topics such as honesty and racism, so don’t expect a lighthearted read. Thankfully there is “a wee” rascal who offers up a welcoming distraction to the seriousness.
I will remember this Civil War series near Franklin, Tennessee and recommend for historical fiction fans. Bravo to the author for indie publishing when the traditional publishing house decided to not go ahead.