Beneath the Blackberry Moon: The Ebony Cloak by April W. Gardner


Release Date: January 19, 2016

Publisher: Big Spring Press

ISBN: 978-0692603970

Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction / Romance

Series: Creek Country Sage, Book Three

Be sure to check out my reviews of the previous books, The Red Feather, and The Sacred Writings.

If you enjoy books with a huge historical aspect that are filled with a gripping storyline and a beautiful tale of romance, then you’ll want to check out The Ebony Cloak.

About the Book:

In the wilds of 1816 Florida, a beautiful slave is free game for depraved men. But for an honorable man, she is a military objective, an asset to be protected, a love that should never be pursued.

Milly’s pale skin provides her with special privileges, but every luxury comes with a command. And Milly is done yielding. On the run, she can pass for white only as long as no one demands she lower her hood. But there’s hope. It lies in the Floridas in a refuge commanded by an army of runaways. Negro Fort. The first sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. But the U.S. Army is keen on the fort’s conquest, and when it accomplishes the unthinkable, Milly must decide whether life is worth fighting for.

Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters, all the while being forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh. The same who, in a storm of flame and blood, ripped out Phillip’s heart and took her for himself.

And then came Milly…

While musket balls fly, a war of another sort rages inside Phillip—perpetuate a crumbling dream or pursue the forbidden; follow orders or follow his heart.

My Thoughts:

Where do I even begin?! April Gardner has done it once again by producing this gripping and beautiful story. This time the main focal character is Phillip and a runaway slave named Milly although some of our favorite characters appear and play important roles. We also meet some new characters whom I’ve already fallen in love with.

I’m excited to share with you about The Ebony Cloak because it stands out from most historical fiction novels. It’s rare to find a book that is set in Florida. Okay, I may also have been impressed because I happen to live in Florida.

This is not a feel-good story, but Gardner does keep it light and fun at the same time. To be honest, it gets intense and somewhat gritty. It was hard watching and learning the things that Milly went through. She has had a hard life where she was raped and abused. Gardner does this in a way without going into detail, showing the consequences, and in a way that doesn’t glorify the sin. Milly was real whom my heart empathized with. I felt all of her emotions. Her confusion, anger, mistrust, all of it.

And then there’s Phillip. I’m excited that Gardner gave him a story because I needed to learn how he survived Fort Mims, that he would learn to let Adela go, forgive Totka, and learn to love again. Like Milly, his character was relatable. He’s still dealing with the after-effects of the war and losing the girl he was supposed to marry to someone else. While he struggles with PTSD-esque symptoms, he quickly grows attached to Milly. I can’t say enough about these characters. I’m attached.

Like The Red Feather, Gardner threw in another huge historical event. Have you ever heard of Negro Fort? Well, neither have I and I have lived in Florida for most of my life. I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to give the whole story away. Negro Fort is a British fort located in Spanish Florida at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River (in what is now known as east of Pensacola, Florida). The British originally used it during the War of 1812 to recruit runaway slaves from, and Muskogee refugees to aid them in bringing the Americas down. Eventually, after the war ended, the British left and allowed the runaway slaves, Seminoles, and Muskogee refugees to take over. From what I read, remains of the fort are still there today but the markers can easily be missed. Even though Gardner did change up some of the facts for fictional reasons, I love that she included this because I learned something new. When I did a little extra research it attracted about 800 fugitive slaves. It attracted runaways from as far as Tennessee and the Mississippi River to seek refuge at the fort. It was one of the main stops of the Underground Railroad. The fort was considered a threat not only to slavery but hostile and violent as they would attack anyone who came near and were known for violent raids on nearby settlers. This was a pretty huge piece of Florida history which eventually later led to the Seminole Wars so it astounds me that I never knew about any of this. I’ll just leave that there so you can learn more about that for yourself. I know I’m definitely going to have to check out some of the resources that the author included in the back of the book because I’m curious to know more.

This gave the book that wow factor. So many events happened in the book with circumstances constantly changing that I wondered how Gardner was going to solve everything. There were so many twists and turns that kept surprising me, especially with the romance. It was impossible for me to put the book down.

I can’t say enough about how awesome this novel is.

Highly recommended!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

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beach_headshotAbout April W. Gardner

APRIL W GARDNER writes history with a Christian perspective and a little imagination.
She is a copy editor, military wife, and homeschooling mother of two who lives in Texas. She writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our Southeastern Native tribes. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.



5 thoughts on “Beneath the Blackberry Moon: The Ebony Cloak by April W. Gardner

  1. Thank you, Becky! I LOVE that you learned a little something about Florida while reading Ebony. That’s one of my goals when I write–to teach through story. So, yay! Isn’t it crazy that hardly anyone knows about Negro Fort? Same with San Marcos de Apalachee. So much history tucked away!


    • Thank you so much for sharing your books with me! I’ve been learning so much through them. It really is crazy how much history is there and how hardly anyone knows about it. I can’t wait to learn more about San Marcos de Apalachee! I love that you focused on Florida. It really is rare to find a book that is set here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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