Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush

Reconstructing Jackson by Holly Bush
Publisher:  BookBaby
Genre: Historical (Early American)
Length:  Full Length (166 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Poppy

1867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.

Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.

Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle’s courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.

If you’re looking for a story that will engage both your heart and your mind, Reconstructing Jackson may be just what you need.  Both edifying and touching, the story Ms. Bush has created is wholly satisfying.

Reed Jackson may not have started out as the most sympathetic of men.  He’s angry at the loss of his leg, and at having to start his life over. He’d expected to run his family’s plantation, marry a lovely Southern belle and live life as he always had.  But the loss of his leg changed everything.  His father changed the will, giving the estate to his younger brother, as well as his fiancee. His mother (a truly lovely woman) encouraged Reed to move west and start a new life with a cousin, Henry.

Belle Richards is as far from a Southern belle as once could imagine. Dirt poor, horribly abused by her family, and determined to learn how to read and create a better life for herself, she ends up in a whole pile of trouble.  You see, she’s learning to read from a “darkie” — a former slave — so it’s double the sin.  And her brother makes sure to share his opinion of her desires with his fists.

Reconstructing Jackson might not have been the light-hearted romance I typically choose, but I’m really glad I had a chance to experience this book.  I honestly don’t know that much about the Reconstruction following the Civil War, so this was an eye-opening reminder that things were incredibly difficult for nearly everyone.  Ms. Bush tosses a little of everything in:  a confederate, a few former slaves, rich folks, poor folks, working folks and so on.  We see things from many points-of-view (not technically — the book is only told from the hero and heroine’s POV) and I admit to struggling to understand some of them.  It’s hard to walk in the shoes of folks who have such closed minds, like Reed’s father or Belle’s brother Jed.

So, though this book may not be the fastest paced story, it’s exceptionally well written with a good, steady pace, interesting plot and well-constructed characters.  I was so involved with some of them, my heart broke in a few places.  Ms. Bush didn’t pussyfoot around about how things were back then, and it wasn’t always pleasant.

If you’re looking for a solidly written American historical romance, this is one I happily recommend to fans of the genre.


  1. Thank you for hosting

  2. Good morning Poppy! I’m so glad you enjoyed Reconstructing Jackson. Do we have many historical romance readers here today? If so, what is your favorite time period to read about?

  3. I usually tend to read more regency romance novels but it would be interesting to read a historical romance set in a more unique time period

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

  4. Karen H in NC says:

    I’m a huge fan of historical romances. I love the Regency period best but I also enjoy American & English Victorian. One of my current favorite authors, Shirley Tallman, writes about a female attorney set in San Francisco in the 1890’s. Great books!

    In times past, the only historicals I would read were set in the Antebellum South and post-civil war American West. I still enjoy reading books set in those periods and I am opening up to early 20th century. Since Downton Abbey hit so big, more and more books set in this period are popping up. I’d love to see a book, or two, set in the 20’s in America.

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  5. Rita Wray says:

    Sounds like a very interesting and emotional read.

  6. What a great review. This really sounds like a wonderful historical based novel.

  7. Karen, I’m a regency fan too and have always been a big Mary Balogh fan. Maggie Osbourne’s a favorite too. I’m going to have to take a look at Shirley Tallman’s books. That is a great premise.

    Shannon, I found this post Civil War period to be really interesting and of course there is a lot of external conflict for a H/H.


  8. My favorite time period would have to be the twenties. Flappers, speakeasies, gangsters and all that. So fun!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

  9. Chelsea B. says:

    I am enjoying so much reading about this novel. I can’t wait until I have the actual book in my hands. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


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