Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF NOVEL: non-Austenesque, Historical Fiction, WWII Romance
SETTING: Long Island, Manhattan, Florida, Alaska, Paris in the years 1942-43 and the summer 1992
- William “Ducky” Martel: A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot who is socially conscience and a true gentleman.
- Elizabeth “Pistol” Renner: From an affluent family living on the Gold Coast of Long Island, Lizzy is a society debutante with a lively and effervescent personality.
- Juliana Martel: A young writer who has a difficult time believing in true love, thanks to her narcissistic mother and several unhappy relationships.
Juliana is bequeathed Primrose Cottage from a great-uncle she has never met. The house remains just as he left it in 1950 – undisturbed, forgotten, and lonely, and the man has not been seen since that time. Upon perusing her new home Juliana finds a mantle full of vintage photographs, an abandoned engagement ring, and a fragment of a destroyed letter. Juliana is overcome with curiosity to discover the story of great-uncle and learn what happened to him and his wartime sweetheart, Lizzy…
WHAT I LOVED:
- It Felt So Real: I’m not talking about the detailed research, feeling of accuracy, or accessible characters. I’m talking about how this story felt like it actually happened, and that it happened to people I knew – people in my family! I know from past experiences that Ms. Gardiner has a special talent for making her readers feel immersed in her tales, but this story went beyond that. The connection to Juliana felt especially strong. I felt every step she took and every emotion she experienced was my own. Her determination to uncover the past and her fascination with her great-uncle’s story mirrored my own feelings while reading this tale.
- Love Never Dies: Woven throughout the events of these two time periods are the consequential themes of learning to forgive and atoning for the mistakes of others. But the most compelling theme illustrated in this story was the power of love – how it doesn’t diminish with time, how it can change a person, and how it changes the course of your life. In this beautiful and eloquent tale, Cat Gardiner shows readers what happens when a couple experiences true love but can’t live happily-ever-after. It might be heart-wrenching to witness, but it was a true testament to see how love can survive tragedy, treachery, and time.
- Wartime Realities: I love that Ms. Gardiner wasn’t afraid to show us the ugly and the dark. Her story wasn’t just about love, passion, and happiness. It encompassed so much more. The hardships soldiers faced, the fear families felt for their loved ones, the prejudice people had towards others, and the danger of discovering that people you knew were Nazi sympathizers (and maybe more…) – it was an eye-opening experience for the reader to see all these darker facets of the war alongside a sweet and enchanting romance.
- Admirable Actions: At the beginning of the story we are introduced to a lighthearted, party-loving debutante who doesn’t feel the impact or importance of the war. Through her love of one man that all changes. It was so moving to see Lizzy and her sister participate in wartime efforts for their country. And to see how Lilian courageously took a stand, thought for herself, and fearlessly worked as an American Red Cross volunteer during the war was truly awe-inspiring!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF: That, in reality, I’m not a member of the brave and wonderful Renner-Martel family!
NOTE: While this isn’t a story one would typically classify as Austenesque, Austenesque lovers will be pleased to see several nods to characters and clever turns of phrase that are reminiscent of Jane Austen’s beloved masterpiece!
WARNING: Contains intimate scenes and language suitable for mature audiences.
I don’t know how Cat Gardiner does it?!? Her stories always transport the reader to a new time or place and they never fail to mesmerize or enchant! This epic love saga is evocative, empathetic, and breathtakingly beautiful. I felt the strongest of connections to these characters, and their stories and experiences completely swept me away.
Learn about Cat’s newest release (and snag a free ebook novelette) HERE!