The thoroughness of her research is evident in A Ballad of Love and Glory. Blending historical fact with fiction, Grande provides an intimate portrait of the stumbles of Mexican military officers as they attempt to defend the borders of their country against a better-equipped U.S. Army ... The story shifts between Ximena’s and John’s perspectives, but the chemistry between the two is instant ... The Mexican politician and general Antonio López de Santa Anna looms large in the novel as charismatic and egotistical, and though Grande is honest about his corruption and missteps, he is still captivating on the page. Grande successfully contextualizes the choices made by her characters, making it easier to care about them and whether they live or die. Though most readers will already know the eventual outcome of this historical conflict, they will still feel the emotional tug of hope that comes with well-drawn characters ... Sometimes the details of the story are so dense they threaten to overwhelm, but ultimately Grande never loses her narrative focus, as the story charges to its end just as the war comes to a bloody close.
... a page-turner twofer – part romance, part war story – set during the Mexican-American War ... If their romance is predictable, Grande is alert to numerous complications their relationship surfaces ... her passion for the subject is palpable, as is her attention to detail about the battles of the Mexican-American War, in which Mexican soldiers were highly motivated but outmatched. It’s also a fine allegory for imperialist moves in any age ... That message – and the core romance – might be stronger if the dialogue were less stiff ... Grande deserves credit, though, for writing a war story that doesn’t bog down into troop movements and empty patriotism. And a romance whose happily-ever-after leaves room for a few storm clouds.
... rides the waves of war and the bloom of lovers’ passion, intertwining real events of the Mexican-American War with a vividly imagined relationship between a forlorn Irish immigrant soldier and a grieving Mexican curandera, or folk healer ... detailed and well-researched ... Grande’s novel highlights the abuses that American immigrants suffered at the hands of Yankee soldiers, in addition to the atrocities of war and all the maddening political and military machinations that go along with it. Although A Ballad of Love and Glory lags in pace or falls into cliche at times, it also often excels at making history palpable and real, not dry and unimpassioned but lively and full of the emotions the people of the past surely felt ... lives up to its title as it pays tribute to the heroism of everyday people called upon to defend their honor as well as their lives.