Book Review: Arms of Freedom

Happy Wednesday, friends! I can’t believe it’s October already! This year has really flown by for me. Today I am thrilled to share my review of Arms of Freedom by Kathleen Neely. This is the first book of hers that I have read. I always love a good time slip (dual timeline) novel, and I was so impressed by her well-written storylines.

Have you read any books by Kathleen Neely yet?


With each page of the age-old journals, Annie discovers all that unites her with a woman who once lived in her farmhouse. One lived with wealth and one with poverty, but both knew captivity. Both longed to be free.

Miriam yearns to escape her life as a super model. She drops the pseudonym and uses the name she gave up years ago—Annie Gentry. Then she alters her appearance and moves to rural South Carolina to care for her grandmother. Can she live a simple life without recognition? Can she hide a net worth valued in the millions? Love is nowhere in her plans until she meets a man who wants nothing more than Annie Gentry and the simple life he lives.

Charlotte lived in the same farmhouse in the tumultuous 1860’s. The Civil War was over, but for a bi-racial girl, freedom remained elusive. She coveted a life where she wouldn’t bring shame to her family. A life where she could make a difference. As she experiences hope, will it be wrested from her?

The journals stop abruptly with a climactic event, leaving Annie to search for information. What happened to Charlotte? Did her life make a difference? Did she ever find freedom?



“These walls hold secrets.”

In Arms of Freedom, author Kathleen Neely has penned an incredible dual timeline novel that fans of both post-Civil War historical fiction during the Reconstruction period and contemporary fiction will immensely enjoy. The novel intertwines the historical storyline with the present as a young bi-racial girl’s journal from the 1800s turns into a search for family history and answers about the past. This powerful and emotional story demonstrates the strength and determination of the human spirit during the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Reconstruction period, and the rise of the KKK.

I enjoyed the present-day storyline as much as the historical storyline, which is often not the case for me when reading dual timeline novels. The light romance developing in the present-day storyline made my romance-loving heart happy. The faith threads weaved throughout the novel are inspiring to readers. Arms of Freedom is highly recommended for fans of time slip novels, historical fiction, and women’s contemporary fiction with light romantic threads. Such a wonderful novel!



Kathleen Neely is the author of THE STREET SINGER, BEAUTY FOR ASHES, THE LEAST OF THESE, and IN SEARCH OF TRUE NORTH. She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia.

Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFWVA for “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance.” Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, THE LEAST OF THESE, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of American of Christian Fiction Writers.

She resides in South Carolina with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading. You can contact her at



Interview with Terri J. Haynes, about her story “Legacy of Love”

Good Monday Morning, reader friends!

Today, we’re talking with Terri about her story “Legacy of Love.”

Enjoy the interview!

Interview with Terri J. Haynes about her story, “Legacy of Love” published in the Runaway Brides story collection:

Alexis: Why did you write this story?

Terri: Research. I am often amazed at how inspiring research can be. It is a great idea generator. I was researching another book when I came across an article about newly freed slaves that actually did well during Reconstruction. Well is relative, of course. The article also detailed classism between some freed Blacks and poorer freed blacks. I was amazed at how this could even happen given the horrible conditions slaves had just come out of. Often I see stories about classism in stories set in countries with ruling classes and I wanted to explore that notion.

Alexis: What is the significance behind your story’s “Legacy of Love” title?

Terri: The story features characters who are getting a fresh start in a way. They were slaves but now their situation had changed. They had the hope of starting something new. While I was researching this story, I came across an article detailing how many Black couples made their marriages legal during Reconstruction. Many went to the Freedman’s Bureau to legally start their lives together. That is a powerful thing.

Alexis: Who is the heroine of your story? Describe her looks, personality, character flaws and greatest strength.

Terri: Delia is a curious, intelligent woman with a great mind to build things. With all her intelligence, she’s a little oblivious about some things happening right in front of her. She also has a big heart and does all she can to help the less fortunate.

Alexis: Who is the hero of your story? Describe his looks, personality, strengths and weaknesses.

Terri: Josiah is a hard-working, honest, caring man. He loves horses and animals in general. He is also gentle and supportive. He has, however, deep wounds from his past.

Alexis: What draws the hero and heroine of your story together?

Terri: Delia and Josiah were friends for many years. Their relationship started when Josiah arrived to Burtonsville with his little sister, needing work and a place to live. Delia, kind-hearted as she is, helped him find a place. They are drawn together by their care for others and the fact that they both have dreams beyond their current circumstances.

Alexis: What threatens to tear the hero and heroine apart forever?

Terri: Delia’s desire to make her father proud and Josiah’s feelings of insufficiency cause problems for the relationship.

Alexis: How do your hero and heroine survive life’s challenges? Does faith play a role?

Terri: They both survive by putting other’s needs first. Josiah is caring for his sister and Delia is caring for the poor in the town. They both have faith that they will be able to build a legacy.

Alexis: Why did you choose to set this story in the 1800s?

Terri: Research, again! I had done some research for another project and had way more information than I needed. I think all historical writers have too much research (if that’s such a thing). What better way to use it?

Alexis: Paint a picture of your story’s setting, with words.

Terri: Burtonsville is a small town with stone buildings and wrought-iron fences on one side of town and wooden houses on the other. The town is dusty with poorly built houses. Horses and carriages are not uncommon and Main Street is lined with stores with colorful awnings.

Alexis: What were the unique challenges for brides of that day that made them want to run away?

Terri: I think the biggest challenge was actually making it to where they were going. Reconstruction was not the utopia newly freed blacks though it would be. Yes, they were free to go, but where? What kind of work would they do? Also, there were groups that were actively trying to stop Blacks from building a better life and those groups used threats and violence to do so. The danger of living and the danger of running held the same risks.

Alexis: What is the racial background of your hero and heroine?

Terri: Both my characters are freed Blacks.

Alexis: What do you want people to remember most about your story?

Terri: That there is always someone less fortunate than you and to recognize the responsibility of taking care of them.

Alexis: Would you like to see more stories that feature diverse main characters, published by CBA? Why or why not?

Terri: I would love to see more stories featuring diverse main characters in CBA. Representation is so important. And of course, there are stories in Black history that don’t make it to the front page…stories of love and success.

Alexis: What can CBA do to help authors of color tell their stories about characters of color and skyrocket their book sales?

Terri: That is a big task. I think that the main thing CBA can do is validate the stories featuring or written by people of color is to create an appetite for these stories by heavily marketing these stories. Publishing books with people of color and give them the marketing support that they need.

Alexis: What was your most memorable moment while writing this story?

Terri: Part of my research came from the National Archives, which is a researcher’s dream! Archives house several very cool interactive exhibits that a full of information. It was hard not to go down a rabbit hole because everything was so interesting.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Terri!

*Interview conducted by Alexis A. Goring, contributor

About the book (story collection): 

The Runaway Brides Collection: 7 Historical Brides Get Cold Feet at the Altar …

What is a woman of the 1800s to do when she feels powerless to choose her own spouse and marry for love—run!

Amy’s home is at stake if she doesn’t marry her neighbor. Delia’s father wants her to marry into a political family. Georgiana is posing as a wealthy man’s wife in order to hide from her groom. Callie is fleeing one wedding and racing to marry a stranger.

Emily flees her wedding with the help of a mysterious coachman. Josey’s best friend leaves a letter proposing marriage unanswered in order to elope. Bernadine becomes the ward and pawn of her evil uncle. Where will each turn when they have only God to trust?

Seven women facing the marriage altar make the decision to flee, but who can they now trust?

Buy this book online: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Barbour Books

About the Author:

Terri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband).

She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She is a storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers into the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families,, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill off their favorite characters.

Follow Terri online: Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram