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A Ballad of Love and Glory

A Ballad of Love and Glory Summary

A Ballad of Love and Glory: A Long Petal of the Sea meets Cold Mountain in this sweeping historical saga following a Mexican army nurse and an Irish soldier who must fight, at first for their survival and then for their love, amidst the atrocity of the Mexican-American War—from the author of the “timely and riveting” (PeopleAcross a Hundred Mountains and The Distance Between Us.

A forgotten war. An unforgettable romance.

The year is 1846. After the controversial annexation of Texas, the US Army marches south to provoke war with México over the disputed Río Grande boundary.​

Ximena Salomé is a gifted Mexican healer who dreams of building a family with the man she loves on the coveted land she calls home. But when Texas Rangers storm her ranch and shoot her husband dead, her dreams are burned to ashes. Vowing to honor her husband’s memory and defend her country, Ximena uses her healing skills as an army nurse on the frontlines of the ravaging war.

Meanwhile, John Riley, an Irish immigrant in the Yankee army desperate to help his family escape the famine devastating his homeland, is sickened by the unjust war and the unspeakable atrocities against his countrymen by nativist officers. In a bold act of defiance, he swims across the Río Grande and joins the Mexican Army—a desertion punishable by execution. He forms the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a band of Irish soldiers willing to fight to the death for México’s freedom.

When Ximena and John meet, a dangerous attraction blooms between them. As the war intensifies, so does their passion. Swept up by forces with the power to change history, they fight not only for the fate of a nation but for their future together.

Heartbreaking and lyrical, Reyna Grande’s spellbinding saga, inspired by true events and historical figures, brings these two unforgettable characters to life and illuminates a largely forgotten moment in history that impacts the US-México border to this day.

About the Author

Reyna Grande is an award-winning author, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. As a young girl, she crossed the US–Mexico border to join her family in Los Angeles, a harrowing journey chronicled in The Distance Between Us, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Her other books include the novels A Ballad of Love and GloryAcross a Hundred Mountains, and Dancing with Butterflies, the memoirs The Distance Between Us: Young Readers Edition, and A Dream Called Home, and the anthology Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on MigrationSurvival, and New Beginnings. She lives in Woodland, California, with her husband and two children.

A Ballad of Love and Glory Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

March 1846

El Frontón de Santa Isabel, Gulf of Mexico

When the three steamships came into view, undulating on the shimmering waters of the gulf, the villagers grew quiet and still, in the way Ximena had seen meadowlarks freeze when hunted by a hawk. Standing on the shore of the Laguna Madre, the water soaking into her skirt, she squinted from the glare as she watched the ships passing through the entrance of the inlet, the smoke rolling out of their funnels dark as storm clouds. She trembled inside. These vessels were not traders or merchants bringing goods to market.

The port of El Frontón de Santa Isabel, just north of the mouth of the Río Bravo del Norte, was a lifeline for the small settlements and scattered ranches in the area and the nearby city of Matamoros. Ximena loved swimming and fishing in the bay, the cool salt air and rolling waves, so whenever her husband went to the port to sell and trade supplies from their rancho—cowhides, tallow, wool, livestock, and crops from the last harvest—she eagerly joined him.

As the steamships anchored in the harbor, she caught flashes of red and blue in the air and something glinting on the decks in the afternoon sunlight. Though she couldn’t see clearly what they carried, an image formed in her mind: bronze cannons and blue-clad soldiers.

For eight months, she’d been hearing rumors of war, ever since US and Texas soldiers had been encamped in Corpus Christi Bay. But as long as they remained two hundred and fifty kilometers away, their presence hadn’t disrupted her daily life. Three months before, in the last days of 1845, the Republic of Texas had become the twenty-eighth state in the Union, and a dispute had erupted over this strip of land between the Río Bravo—or the Río Grande, as the norteamericanos called it—and the Río Nueces to the north.

She, like everyone, knew it was only a matter of time before the Yanqui president, James Polk, would order his troops to march south to take possession of the disputed land. These warships, Ximena realized, were bringing an end to what little tranquility had existed in her region.

We should go,” she whispered, turning to her grandmother, who was standing beside her in the water. Nana Hortencia’s silver braids hung loosely at either side of her head, and although the years had bent and twisted her body like the limbs of a mesquite, her hands were firm and steady.

The old woman sighed with worry and said, “Let us go find your husband, mijita.

Tolling church bells shattered the eerie silence that had descended upon the small community. All at once, mothers pulled their children out of the water and rushed them home, fisherwomen snatched up their baskets, and fruit and vegetable vendors hastily loaded their crates onto their carts. Out in the Laguna Madre, the fishermen were rowing their boats back to the wharf. Then bugles sounded the alarm, and the handful of Mexican soldiers protecting the port hurried to their posts.

Ximena waded out of the water and guided her grandmother to the storehouses. Her wet skirt clung to her legs, her sandals squished, but there was no time to change. She quickened her pace, but as Nana Hortencia struggled to keep up, she forced herself to slow down, to not panic. Clutching the old woman’s hand, they wove through the throng of frightened villagers, her eyes searching for her husband, Joaquín. She sighed in relief when she spotted the ranch hands at a storehouse, rushing to finish loading the sacks of coal onto the carts. But Joaquín wasn’t with them, nor could she find him inside.

Stay here, Nana,” she said and hurried back outside.

As Ximena whirled around into the street, a party of Texas Rangers rode into the plaza from the rear of the port, shouting their wild cries and firing their revolvers into the air. The villagers screamed and ran for cover. The Mexican soldiers guarding the customhouse hastily fired warning shots, and the Rangers retaliated.

The grass-thatched roof of the customhouse had already begun to smoke, and then, suddenly, burst into flames.

Joaquín!” Ximena cried out, pushing past the crowd, her heart flailing like a seagull trapped in netting. Seeing her husband run out of the building, she rushed to join him.

Vámonos,” he said, taking her hand.

The air reeked of smoke. Ximena could hear the crackling of the burning timber and thatch as the villagers’ huts burned. Flames licked the rafters in the plaza church even as the bells continued to toll. People ran out of their homes with whatever they could carry. A fortunate few loaded their wagons and carts and fled. The rest followed behind on foot in a frantic pace, seeking shelter in the prairie beyond.

The Yanqui cavalry suddenly burst through the smoke, led by a peculiar old man dressed like a farmer and wearing a straw hat. They shot their pistols into the air, and in the shocked silence that followed, the man in the straw hat pulled his horse to a halt and held up one hand.

My name is General Zachary Taylor, commander-in-chief of the Army of Occupation of the United States of America,” he declared. “Do not be afraid.

No one waited to hear the Yanqui general say more. Joaquín handed Ximena her horse’s reins, and as soon as Nana Hortencia sat safely on one of the canvas-topped wagons and the ranch hands took the reins, they rode out of the village, eluding the general and his mounted troops along with the Rangers.

They made their way across the broad plains, but encumbered by wagons and carts loaded with sacks of rice, wheat flour, coffee and cacao, crates of piloncillo and dried fish, and other provisions they had picked up at the port, they couldn’t get away fast enough. As the gathering dusk gave over to the fireflies twinkling over the prairie, Ximena, struggling to see in the deepening twilight, wondered how long it would take to cover the remaining nine kilometers to the rancho.

She glanced back at the village in the distance and saw it was covered in an orange haze.

War is coming,” she said.

No, mi amor,” Joaquín said. “They will negotiate. I’m sure it won’t come to war.”

He was only trying to ease her worries. But it was futile to try to shield her from what she had witnessed that day. What else could this be, if not an act of war?

She remembered that ten years before, when Texas rebelled against Mexico and declared itself an independent republic, it proclaimed that its boundary would then extend two hundred and fifty kilometers south to the Río Bravo, even though the Río Nueces had been the established border even before Mexico had achieved its independence from Spain. Mexico had never recognized Texas’s independence or its claim to the Río Bravo and the region between the two rivers, and it had warned the United States to keep its hands off its lands.

Looking to the sky, Ximena thought of the single star on the flag of the Republic of Texas, realizing that it was now part of the American constellation. If the United States was now ready to destroy everything in its wake, what would become of her and her family?

March 1846

Rancho Los Mesteños, Río Bravo

The next day, Ximena sat on her horse facing northeast, looking beyond the prairie teeming with wildflowers at the wisps of smoke rising over the remnants of El Frontón de Santa Isabel. They had arrived at the rancho before sunup, and though she was tired, she had been unable to sleep. So she’d gotten dressed to ride out to the prairie and offer up a prayer for the villagers. If the Yanquis weren’t stopped, would El Frontón de Santa Isabel be the first of many Mexican villages to be burned to the ground?

The wind rippled through the zacahuistle grass. Specks of the windblown ash settled on her opened hand, and she licked them off her palm, tasting the bitter sorrow of innocent families displaced from their homes. What would happen to them now? Those who’d fled were most likely scattered about the bare prairie, unsheltered and exposing themselves to further dangers. But where could they go? Those who hadn’t been able to flee were surely now at the mercy of their enemies, facing an equally uncertain fate.

As she turned her horse, Cenizo, to return to the house, she spotted another cloud rising in the west. This one was not from a fire. Mounted riders were kicking up dust as they sped toward the rancho, and that kind of haste meant trouble. Ximena galloped back to the stables, calling for the foreman’s sons to fetch her husband and the wranglers who’d taken the horses out to pasture. The teenage boys dropped their pitchforks and hurried off, but the horsemen reached the main house before Joaquín. The barking dogs brought out Nana Hortencia and the three house servants, who waited fearfully under the ramada.

Hiding her escopeta between the folds of her skirt, her finger on the trigger and ready to shoot if she had to, Ximena stood by the front door of her house and waited, her heart pounding to the beat of the horses’ hooves. It wasn’t the dreaded Texas Rangers or the marauding Comanches, and yet she felt little relief once she identified the leader of the twelve riders. It was Joaquín’s childhood friend Cheno, or more officially, Corporal Juan Nepomuceno Cortina of the Mexican militia, Los Defensores de la Patria.

Cheno, what a surprise,” she said, loosening her tight grip on her musket, though the worry in the pit of her stomach intensified. What was the militia doing here?

Cortina pulled up to the house and dismounted quickly. “Ximena. Sorry to show up like this, but I need your help.” He looked toward Nana Hortencia, who stood behind Ximena, and said, “Por favor. He doesn’t have much time.

One of Cortina’s men was slumped over his horse, about to fall off, his blood dripping steadily onto the ground. “Bring him in,” Ximena said. “¡Pronto, por Dios!

She directed them to the rear room off the kitchen garden where she and her grandmother tended their patients. After clearing the wooden table of the medicinal roots Nana Hortencia had been grinding, they laid the man upon it. She ordered the servants to boil water and bring clean rags. Her grandmother cut off the man’s bloodied shirt, revealing a hole where a musket shot had gone through his shoulder.

Ximena turned to Cortina and asked, “Who did this?

He took off his sombrero and wiped his sweaty face with the dirty handkerchief tied around his neck. “The Yanquis. We came upon Taylor and his cavalry and had a little skirmish. Took two of his dragoons prisoners.

“Taylor? You mean he’s no longer at El Frontón?”

No. He’s taking his entire force to set up an encampment on the north bank of the Río Bravo across from Matamoros. But he’s left behind some of his men in the village to build a supply depot and a fort. Our port has fallen into the hands of the enemy, and they won’t be giving it up unless we force them to.

“Then let’s get those pinches Yanquis off our land, Cheno!” Joaquín said as he stood in the doorway.

Claro que sí, amigo.” Cortina grinned, and the two men embraced. Ximena knew that, like her, Joaquín couldn’t get the villagers’ frightful shrieks from the day before out of his mind.

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A Ballad of Love and Glory

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN198216526X, 978-1982165260
Posted onMarch 15, 2022
Formatpdf
Page Count384 pages
AuthorReyna Grande

A Ballad of Love and Glory PDF Free Download - HUB PDF

A Ballad of Love and Glory: A Long Petal of the Sea meets Cold Mountain in this sweeping historical saga following a Mexican army nurse and an Irish soldier who must fight, at first for their survival and then for their love, amidst the atrocity of the Mexican-American War—from the author of the “timely and riveting” (People) Across a Hundred Mountains and The Distance Between Us.

URL: https://amzn.to/3LdBOFo

Author: Reyna Grande

Editor's Rating:
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