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By The Sword (Guardians of the Crown #1)

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  71 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war. The country will be divided and lives lost as Charles II makes a last bid to regain his throne.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family. To protect the people
Kindle Edition, 2nd, 364 pages
Published June 2010 by Wordclay (first published September 2007)
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Mar 20, 2016 Phrynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not always a fan of romance but when it is mixed in with a good bit of historical fiction I find it quite palatable. This author knows how to mix it up and I have enjoyed several of her books so far. By The Sword is I believe her debut novel and as such it is very good indeed. I found I really cared for some of her characters especially Jonathan who deserved a really happy ending! There were lots of good historical facts about the Cavaliers and the Roundheads and her descriptions of English ...more
Dec 13, 2011 Brenda rated it it was amazing
In the mid 1600’s, Kate Ashley is a widow with a young son, 9 year old Thomas. She lived near her sister Suzanne, husband William and their children in Barton, Yorkshire where they lived a frugal, but happy life.

One day Kate received a letter from Tom’s great grandfather, Sir Francis Thornton, from whom they had been estranged for many years. The old man was on his death bed, and wanted to ‘clear his conscience’ by meeting Tom and Kate. It had been 30 years since the elopement which had split t
Widow Kate Ashley and her nine year old son Thomas lived a happy and reasonably contented life in Barton, Yorkshire; with her sister Suzanne, husband William and their brood of children close by, Kate had family enough around her. But when she received a summons from Tom’s great grandfather, Sir Frances Thornton to his estate of 'Seven Ways', she had no idea what would be the right thing to do. The Thornton and Ashley families had been estranged for thirty years – Kate had no desire to meet the ...more

Set in 1650 during the English civil wars this is a story full of romance and adventure. Cromwell's parliament currently rules England while Charles II and his court are in exile in France. Jonathan Thornton is a Royalist loyally fighting for his King in a war he knows they will likely lose. Kate Ashley, loyal to the Parliamentary cause is the widow of Jonathan's cousin but her family has been estranged from the Thorntons and she has never met them. She is therefore surprised when she and her so
Mar 16, 2015 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy stories set in this era such strong men and their strong heroines they went through so much during the civil war in England family and neighbours against each other but when they fall in love they have a lot to overcome and their journey is a rocky road to that HEA and this one had me turning the pages as Kate Ashley with a loyalty to the Parliamentarians and Jonathon Thornton an exiled colonel for the Royalist a firm believer in The King. Kate has been left widowed by this war an ...more
Hina Tabassum
Feb 23, 2015 Hina Tabassum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on Lair Of A Wordsmith

A romance novel where, for the most part, the hero and heroine live apart. It being a time when letters were the mode of communication, these two had no idea what happened with the other.

Kate Ashley is a young widow who runs her household and is raising her nine-year old son. She does not wish to marry again. Out of the blue, after receiving an invitation to a house named Seven Ways to meet a relative of her late husband whose family has been estranged
Regan Walker
Nov 06, 2013 Regan Walker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-reads
Well-written Love Story from Cromwell’s England

This was my first by Stuart and it’s a worthy read, a crossover between historical fiction and historical romance. That is, it has enough history to satisfy the historical fiction lover and enough romance (and a happy ever after ending) to make it romance.

Set in Yorkshire beginning in 1650 (the prologue is set in Devon in 1646), during the time when Cromwell ruled England and Charles II was in exile in France, this is the story of Col. Jonathan Thor
Oct 27, 2016 Loretta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is set in an era I don't normally read. It's also a romance, which, in historical fiction, I don't always enjoy. However, the romance element in this book is done really well.
Often, in a romance, the characters annoy me with their misunderstandings, but that was not the case in this one. The action was exciting; there was some violence but it was not unneccesarily bloody, and I turned the pages eagerly.
There is a little sex but it is not gratuitous.
All in all, a good yarn, compelling and v
Deanna from Deanna's World
I went into reading this book with much trepidation as I had recently DNF'ed two historicals, both by excellent authors. I thought maybe I was off historicals and I would not enjoy this. Fortunately, that was not the case.

War is a terrible thing and civil war within a country, no matter the reason, is even more so. It splits the country into half and divides the people. Families turns against each other, fathers against sons and brothers against brothers as each take sides based on their individ
Cassandra Samuels
In this English Civil War story, widow Kate Ashley is contacted by her husband’s estranged family who wish to name her young son as heir to the family estate, Seven Ways. However, the estate is financially floundering due to taxes imposed on the family for being Royalists. Kate’s husband died fighting for the Parliamentarians but she has no love for either side she just wants to raise her son in peace.

When Kate meets the real heir to Seven Ways, the outlawed Jonathon Thornton, she is immediately
Andrea Zuvich
By the Sword is Alison Stuart's first novel and is set for a re-release in March of this year. Although I have known Alison for some time (Hoydens and Firebrands), I had never before read any of her books until now.There were tender, poignant scenes between parent and child, and Stuart's story was beautifully woven into historical events, such as the Battle of Worcester, which is in the middle of the book. The battle scenes were as good as the love scenes, and Stuart has the talent to depict bot ...more
Apr 11, 2015 Susanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVE Alison Stuart's historical writing! She recreates the period of the English Civil War brilliantly and I felt as though these characters had surely lived through it for real. It's the absolute understanding of the period and daily life peppered throughout the story that makes your heart ache for this couple who struggle to survive and love in a time when families were torn apart for 'the cause'. The power of Ms Stuart's writing is also in how much I cared about what happened to the character ...more
Sandra R
Jan 02, 2017 Sandra R rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I enjoyed this book very much. The first time I have read about the civil war in England and it was really interesting. The story was excellent, quite long and obviously very well planned and it kept me guessing. The characters were well developed. I have just started reading "The King's Man" (the next book in the series) and intend to read all all this author's back-list. I'm also really pleased to find out that she's a fellow Aussie !
Cate Ellink
Dec 31, 2012 Cate Ellink rated it it was amazing
Oh, I loved this story. Kate Ashley is one tough, passionate lady, full of compassion, love and integrity. Jonathan Thornton is tough, charismatic, and a perfect match for Kate - if only civil war could allow them to be together. The children in this story are brilliant characters - and I'm not often taken by the kids in stories :)

Alison Stuart writes a rich story, which kept me enthralled. I'll be looking for more.
Mar 05, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BY THE SWORD by Alison Stuart is a stunning historical romance that will entertain you until the very last page! Ms Stuart’s impressive characters, moving plot and dramatic prose captures your full attention and leaves you utterly captivated as she whisks you away to a time that once brimmed with unreserved drama.

Highly Recommended

5/5 stars
Jun 06, 2017 Petula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Ashley and her son have been summoned to the home of her husband's elderly relative. The family have been estranged for years. It didn't help that they were on opposite sides in the war. Her husband died fighting for the Roundheads. His maternal grandfather still supports the displaced king.
With King Charles still trying to reclaim his crown anyone known to support him is under suspicion.
Sir Jonathon Thornton has a price on his head and cannot be found on English soil. He also knows he ca
Apr 02, 2015 Bronwen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alison Stuart’s By the Sword takes place during a pivotal period in that challenging and complex earthquake of a century during which one eighth of the British population died in or as a result of civil war, the country lurched from monarchy to republic and back again, and new ‘men of mechanical and medical science’ progressively colonized the domain previously inhabited by astrologers, alchemists and apothecaries.

Setting her novel around the time of the Battle of Worcester, last battle of the
Vikki Vaught
Rating: 3.75 Stars

Vikki's Musings

I received By the Sword in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. I have always been a fan of books based on the English Civil War and when I read the book description, I looked forward to reading it with a great deal of anticipation.

By the Sword starts out with a prologue set in Devon 1646. I know some readers and editors do not care for them, but I normally enjoy a prologue and this one was no exception. It pulled me in immediately.

The first chapte
Set in Yorkshire in 1650, the story revolves around a family divided by loyalties to Cromwell and Charles II, in the midst of the conflict between the Roundheads and Royalists, also known as the English Civil War.

The widowed Kate Ashley and her young son Tom are supporters of Cromwell, if she actually was said to be supporting anyone. Her existence is pleasant, if frugal, and her life with her son is proceeding along nicely. She’s vowed never to remarry, and the distance from her husband’s fami
Another winner from Stuart!!! This woman stands almost without equal in being able to blend romance, historical detail, and three-dimensional characters into one cohesive whole. Her books are written as historical romances; however, they stand as so much more in my humble eyes.

First off, I love how careful she is to set her timeframe right, get the details correct, and bring her history to life. Not many historical romances are set during the English Civil War to begin with. But Stuart goes furt
I didn't love this one. I think it has to do with the fact that I didn't really get to know Jonathan. I didn't connect with him or swoon... unlike the other novels by Alison, this one sat a little awkwardly.

Kate Ashley was a different matter. I thoroughly enjoyed her character. She is a very strong character. She's tested time and time again, physically, mentally and emotionally, yet she still remains strong. I wasn't too excited by the fact that almost instantly she fell in love with him, but I
Jan 02, 2009 Anita rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Historical Fiction fans
Recommended to Anita by: Historical Novel Review Blog
It is the story of a young widow, Kate Ashley, who struggles to carve a life for herself and her young son during the turbulence of war in the era of Charles II. Through her late husband’s family, she inherits the impoverished mansionestate and stately home called Seven Ways in Worcestershire England. But the estate is in disrepair and to restore it will cost a great deal. Nevertheless, she perseveres.

She encounters royalist, Jonathan Thornton, who is exiled and a wanted man. Stephen Prescott, a
Apr 21, 2015 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no one like author Alison Stuart for bringing alive the atmosphere of England during the civil war years. Alas, this is a neglected period of history for historical authors who have literally done Regency to death and then some. I always find myself reading Alison Stuart's books with the greatest of pleasure. Her writing embodies everything I love about historical fiction - a trip back to a bygone age when life was somewhat slower and less in our control.

Alison Stuart beautifully depict
Mar 29, 2015 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By The Sword was an absolute superb read from beginning to end. It's about two leading characters, Lady Ashley and Jonathan Thornton coming together from opposite sides of a very violent war in the mid 1600's that depicted each of characters plight, the horrors and struggles each endured who spent very little time together in this story, yet making those times precious, more endearing allowing the reader not just to be able to visualize what was going on, but to also feel each emotion the charac ...more
Nan Hawthorne
Aug 22, 2011 Nan Hawthorne rated it really liked it
Allison Stuart is a terrifically fun and skillful storyteller. In this novel about two people who come together from opposite sides of the Engllish Civil War of the mid-1600's you have as neat a story of love and also of loyalty and heroism as could go into something that is so easy to read and wrap yourself in. One talent Stuart has is the ability to present a complicated set of captures and escapes that are nevertheless completely credible, each set up and followed through satisfyingly. Like k ...more
I enjoyed this English Civil War story of Kate and Jonathan and their extended families/friends. Much like Stella Riley did with her Roundheads and Cavaliers series, Stuart drops these characters right into the thick of the War and instead of the conflict being some convoluted Regency misunderstanding, these characters problems are mainly the result of circumstances brought about because their country has been embroiled in a Civil War for nearly ten years. I've already read the second book in th ...more
Nas Dean
Mar 09, 2015 Nas Dean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BY THE SWORD by author Alison Stuart is a March 2015 release by Escape Publishing, the digital arm of Harlequin Australia.

Kate Ashley, a widow is mum to a nine year old son. Jonathan, her late husband’s cousin is a hunted man in exile so the family estate would go to Kate’s son.

Meeting Jonathan for the first time, Kate feels attracted but they are kept apart. The story is beautifully written and the plot is intricately woven so you feel yourself living in Kate’s shoes.

BY THE SWORD has vivid d
Bree Verity
Mar 01, 2016 Bree Verity rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Ashley is a widow with a son. She receives a letter from her husband’s family, who abandoned his mother when she ran off with someone her father didn’t approve of. They visit Seven Ways, the home of the Thorntons and Kate meets Jonathon Thornton, the disgrace of the family, who is pursued by an officer called Stephen Prescott.
The historical detail is breathtaking, and I have only dropped half a star on this one because I felt like the story ended a few chapters short of the actual ending, a
Feb 21, 2015 Dottie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Ashley is a widow with a son who inherits her husbands family's estate. Jonathan Thornton is a royalist the story takes place near the end of the English Civil War. They meet and fall In love but their love is challenged as they are on different sides of the conflict. Alison Stuart has managed to combine history with romance for a very enjoyable story.
Kate Sherwood
DNF at 19%. I'm just not feeling it.

The heroine is a total doormat, and the hero is recklessly exposing her and her nine year old son to serious danger, for no real reason. (He says his papers are good so there's no risk of him travelling with them, but he also says he needs to travel with them so he won't be suspected, so clearly his papers aren't that damn good).

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Award winning Australian author, Alison Stuart learned her passion from history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full length novel was published. A past president of the Romance Writers of Australia, Alison has now published seven full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories. Many of her stories ...more
More about Alison Stuart...

Other Books in the Series

Guardians of the Crown (4 books)
  • The King’s Man (Guardians of the Crown, #2)
  • Exile's Return (Guardians of the Crown #3)
  • Guardians of the Crown Trilogy: By The Sword; The King's Man; Exile's Return

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“Tom,’ he said quietly, ‘there is nothing I would like more in this world than to stay, but I am a soldier. I have a loyalty to my King. I have to go.’ A curtain of hair obscured the boy’s face and to Jonathan’s distress a large tear dissipated the blot of ink. ‘Don’t get killed,’ Tom said softly, his voice choked. ‘Mother thinks I’m too young to remember but I do. I saw him, all covered with blood, and Mother was crying and crying.’ ‘Your father?’ Jonathan asked, his chest tightening at the thought of what this child had witnessed. The boy nodded and looked up at him with brimming eyes. ‘I thought you were going to die too but you didn’t and I thought that meant you would stay.” 0 likes
“She could, she had reflected several times, snap her fingers at the whole shipload of Thorntons and leave them to drown in the tempest of their own choosing. She could, if it were not for one thing. She liked them.” 0 likes
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