By Shannon McNear
** Publication Date 1 March 2020 **
In 1797 Knoxville is still a wild “west” town. Rachel Taylor lives with her parents and helps to run their mercantile – more just a stop along the way for travelers. When she stands up for her best friend Sally at her wedding to the mysterious Wiley Harpe, Rachel wonders if Sally is making a mistake. Her feelings are confirmed when it turns out that Sally’s new husband is on the path to being an outlaw, and he’s taking Sally and the rest of the family along with him.
Thomas Langford is heading south when he meets up with the Harpe crew. Thomas’s cousin Ben is a few days behind and stops at the Taylor’s mercantile. He is somewhat smitten with Rachel at first sight. Ben has to meet up with Thomas, however, so he can’t linger. He is due at another stop.
The Blue Cloak is a fictional story based on events that happened in history. The Harpes really were two brothers who wreaked havoc in the developing south, leaving a trail of death and destruction along their way. They did drag along the two wives – Sally and Susan – and the third “wife” Betsey. Sally, the daughter of a Baptist preacher, tries to keep her faith alive even in the darkest of times with the Harpes.
This novel was the second that I’ve read in the True Colors series. I enjoy the way that the true story is interwoven with a fictional one, so it reads more like a novel than a history book. McNear created two characters in Ben and Rachel that you want to follow. She also was able to make Sally someone that you could sympathize with, rather than berate for the choices she made. I am looking forward to reading the remaining books in this series.