Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
With her father in a German POW camp and her home in Ste Mere Eglise, France, under Nazi occupation, Rosalie Barrieau will do anything to keep her younger brother safe. . .even from his desire to join the French resistance. Until she falls into the debt of a German solder—one who delivers a wounded British pilot to her door. Though not sure what to make of her German ally, Rosalie is thrust deep into the heart of the local underground. As tensions build toward the allied invasion of Normandy, she must decide how much she is willing to risk for freedom.
An impossible situation in WWII France. A German soldier helping his French enemies. A young French boy, not quite man, deeply involved in the Resistance. His older, beautiful sister wants nothing but to pacify the Germans,certainly not to engage the enemy. What difference could one person make?
In A Rose for the Resistance, Angela K Couch brings to vivid life the danger and deprivation of occupied France. The hatred each opposing group held for each other, the inability to see the humanity of one for the deeds of the whole group. At one point, Franz tells Rosalie, “But I am not this uniform.” Can Rosalie look past his hair, his complexion, and see his heart? A timely question for our country and times.
I enjoyed seeing how Couch slowly lets the reader see what events and traumas of the past formed Rosalie and Franz into who they are when we meet them. I also appreciated the considerable growth of both characters throughout the book. The suspense is real, and fear seems omnipresent. Franz is afraid, maybe more than others. “I’m not ready to meet God. The truth of it settled, heavy in Franz’s chest. It really wasn’t death he feared. Truthfully, death might even be a release from the misery of this world. But to stand and be judged by God? His hands were too stained for that.”
Someone we never see during the book was my fave character. How could he not be?!! Rosalie keeps having flashbacks to her father’s tender ways and times with her. He taught her in small bits of teachable moments and assured her of his love. A father’s steady love can mirror the Father’s love for His children.
I cannot imagine the bleakness of an occupied land. I could understand why Rosalie felt useless against the evil in her land. Yet, she would learn the truth of these words:
“No one soldier will win this war. But each is needed for victory.”
While the Nazis could take their crops, ration their food, and change the future she had expected, Rosalie discovers a shining light amidst the darkness. “‘Don’t give up hope,’ she whispered. That was the one thing the Nazis could not take from her unless she allowed them.”
Hope spurred on by faith. Why these stories of WWII are so powerful and worth reading!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Magnificent!! Hope Shines in the Darkest Times!
About the Author
To keep from freezing in the great white north, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the 2016 International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and toasty warm) by chasing after four munchkins.
More from Angela
The story of A Rose for the Resistance has been in the making for a while. Rosalie and Franz came to life for me in the first novel I started writing as a teenager… (not even going to mention how long ago that was). Though much of that early work will never see the light of day, I am glad I can finally share them with you.
Every November 11th since I was a child, I would sit with my dad and watch WWII documentaries and movies like A Bridge too Far, or The Longest Day which featured Sainte-Mère-Église during the D-day landings. So many of those stories beg to be remembered and I tried to include as much as I could in this novel, even in passing. Stories such as John Steele of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment who dropped into the warzone of Sainte-Mère-Église that night and his chute caught on the spire of the church. He hung limply for hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. John later escaped and rejoined his division. Or, Henry Langrehr who landed five miles from his drop zone, crashing through a greenhouse on the way down. He was unharmed from the fall, but was later wounded and captured. He lived into his nineties to tell the tale.
Many of the events and deeds of The Resistance in the novel are also pulled from history. The French citizen’s willingness to risk their lives to transport weapons and information, and to staunchly resist the brutal German occupation. It is estimated that approximately 90,000 men women – and children – were killed, tortured, or deported by the Germans for their efforts.
Though many of the characters in this story are fictional, there are so many men and women who truly did live through the horrors of the War in Europe, and more importantly risked or sacrificed their all for the freedom and lives of others.
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.
Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?
Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.
“Sometimes God uses broken things to save us … Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.”
Broken… that is what so many characters are, in Janyre Tromp’s debut novel, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. WWII is over, but as the surviving men return home, many face the kind of difficulties that own Sam Mattas and his family.
Wives and other family not going to war attempt to keep the family homestead going, waiting their men’s return. When Sam Mattas reappears, his wife and family are left to wonder how to navigate the much less-than-ideal situation God allows. Is God still to be trusted? Does God have a plan for this mess?
This psychological thriller is immersed in the Southern mountain culture, with the heart of truth only revealed after much emotional upheaval (including on the reader’s part!) First person narrative, alternating between Sam and Annie, made me want to choose sides, then switch repeatedly until my head was spinning. Characters are so multi-faceted and fluid that I found myself identifying with even some of the “villains.” I must admit this novel reminded me of some great classics- not easy to enter into for awhile, but once I did, I felt like I had discovered a treasure by the end!
My favorite character is Dovie May. Elderly, life has not been kind to her, yet she remains full of faith, optimism, and encouragement for others to keep pressing forward. Wisdom is certainly on her tongue.
I received a copy of this book from the I Read with Audra Tour via NetGalley. No positive review is required, and all opinions are my own.
So many, but I will give my fave:
“We think everything eventually goes back to what we want it be. That everything’ll be happy and familiar, the good winning. We never want to travel beyond the point where everybody’s happy. But life’s everything after, and the question is, what are you going to do with the truth life drops in your lap?”
Magnificent!! Fabulous Psychological Thriller of WWII Era
About the Author
Janyre Tromp is a historical novelist whose loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.
She’s also a book editor, published children’s book author, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her family, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. And if you ever meet in person, you pronounce that first name Jan-ear.
In Shadows in the Mind’s Eye (Kregel Publications),debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense as she takes readers back in time to 1940s Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who came back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.
When Sam claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?
Annie desperately wants to believe her husband, but between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
Q: The back of the book describes Shadows in the Mind’s Eye as, “A deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense.” In your own words, introduce us to your debut novel.
Charlotte Anne Mattas wants to go back to the way things were before her husband, Sam, left their farm for the war in the Pacific. Sam used to be her protector, but when he arrives home in Spring of 1946, his battle fatigue has everyone questioning his sanity and her safety… especially after he nearly kills his brother, then claims to see men on the mountain where no else has seen them. Are there really dangerous men on the mountain or is his twisted mind conjuring things that aren’t there?
In the tradition of Hitchcock with a hint of psychological thriller, In the Mind’s Eye explores the illness we now call PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and persistent love in a world determined to destroy it.
Q: Sam and Charlotte Anne both expected life to go back to normal when he returned from the war, but that doesn’t exactly happen. How was life post-war different from what they expected? How does each of them respond to those differences?
This story actually began while talking to my grandparents over a glass of lemonade. My U.S. History professor had given us an assignment to talk to family about the Depression and/or World War II. Until that point, I’d had no real concept of what the war was like, either for the soldiers or their families back home. I guess I’d thought that the greatest generation slid back into life and easily became the loving people I knew my grandparents were in their 70s. When I discovered that wasn’t the case, I wondered how they had survived the fear and drastic changes.
Like my grandfather, Sam glorified the home front, anticipating a glorious homecoming, delicious food, a soft bed, and an easier life.Charlotte Anne expected Sam to quickly become part of the teamagain as they worked their peach orchard. Instead, Sam has nightmares and reacts to food he used to love (I even gave Sam a reaction to orange marmalade just like my grandfather). Sam tends to jump to conclusions because he doesn’t understand the context, struggles with the physicality of farm work, and is overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done since Charlotte Anne wasn’t able to do a lot of the upkeep.
At first, neither Sam nor Annie knows quite what to do with one another, but they’re determined to understand each other.Eventually they each open up to Sam’s mom, Dovie May, and she becomes a healing balm for each of them. If I had to give Dovie a theme, it would be: “You’d think holding joy right up against sadness would shatter a body. But it don’t. Joy, it sneaks in all around, sticks everything together, and finds a way to make you whole. See, light sneaks through the broken places.”
Q: In our current day, we are very aware of what PTSD is, and that it is very prevalent among men and women who have been in the military and seen war. What was known about PTSD back in the 1940s after World War II?
Although the general population didn’t shame WWII soldiers with PTSD symptoms as much as they did their WWI counterparts, WWII era doctors knew little about how to treat trauma of any kind. Battle fatigue, as it was known then, was treated with electroshock therapy (something that was terrifying and had limited success), and many of the men who suffered from it were often divorced, angry, confused, and quietly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Of course, I didn’t want to leave Sam and Annie here, so I dug for treatment options and talked with a few modern therapists.
In my research, those who fared best were often those who lived a little off the grid, in places where they could be physically active, with people who loved them and gave them the space to remove themselves when necessary. Sam also stumbles on a bit of a modern treatment technique by accident. Most folks have heardthat going for a walk can help with mental stability. What isn’t as familiar is that the rhythm of walking combined with talking can actually replicate bits and pieces of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy which is one of the most successful battlefield PTSD treatments.
Q: What are some struggles Sam deals with upon returning home to Hot Springs? Is he able to hide what is going on from those closest to him or does it become apparent to everyone around him?
Sam’s reactions to “normal” stimulus are off the charts. If he hears a sound or sees a shadow, he immediately jumps into fight/flight/freeze reactions. As is normal for people when they’re first dealing with PTSD, he has no tools to hide his responses and lacks a bit of impulse control. He’s a good, good man with an enormous heart and his reactions cause a horrendous amount of guilt for him. The last thing he wants is to put the people he loves in danger.
As the story progresses and circumstances continue to slide sideways, Sam faces his own mental instability. Imagine watching yourself become more and more unstable and wondering if there’s anything you can do to stop it.
Q: Sam claims to see and hear things going on around him that no one else does. How does Annie deal with what’s going on with her husband?
At first Annie is supportive of her husband and backs him up. She lists all the reasons she believes him: He’s a man she has always trusted. He’s amazing with his daughter. He’s gentle and kind and strong. Unfortunately, circumstances continue to prove that Sam is unstable, and she’s forced to question his sanity. She is rightfully terrified and confused.
To deal with her husband’s instability, she leans on her family—Sam’s mom and brother. They give Annie perspective and help with both the emotional and physical toll of working through unexpected circumstances. One of the things I’m most proud of in Annie is that she doesn’t allow Sam to abuse her even by accident. She holds the line and doesn’t budge from that. It’s something I hope all people do for themselves. That said, Sam is horrified by the fact that he hurt Annie in his sleep and refuses to put her in any further danger. But he also doesn’t give up.
Q: Hot Springs, Arkansas, is an unusual setting for a book. How did you choose the location and how does it play into the story?
Even though the book idea started with wondering how my grandparents’ marriage survived the pressure of war, the book isn’t biographical. So, I needed a setting other than my grandparents’ hometown. For the characters that I was building, I needed a small town. When one of my good friends told me she had an entire book of stories from her family in Arkansas, I jumped at the chance to read first-hand history. Amongst the Hughes family stories, I acquired the basis for Dovie May and Hot Springs, Arkansas—home to the largest illegal gambling racket in the country.
Well, I don’t have to tell you that mobsters and illegal activity are an excellent backdrop for a story with a bit of suspense. The book The Bookmaker’s Daughter by Shirley Abbott confirmed that Hot Springs mobsters operated with full permission of the authorities. In Shirley’s stories, I also discovered the foundation for Charlotte Anne’s father. All of which gave me a location and a cast of characters that could stoke Sam’s fears and make everyone (including the reader) wonder whether or not he was crazy.
Q: What kind of research did you do on the effects of war during that time period? What sparked the inspiration for that part of the story?
As I mentioned, the initial interest came from my grandparents and their stories. But PTSD is also something I’ve struggled with for years. I had some childhood trauma that I worked through back in college. I started writing this book using the nightmares and struggles I had as a kid. Then my daughter became very, very illwhich sparked a new trauma all its own.
That said, battlefield PTSD has different components than the trauma I suffered. To research that, I had several long conversations with a friend who treats battlefield PTSD. She’s the one who reminded me that EMDR is, in essence, any activity thatuses bilateral stimulation to trigger both sides of the brain—thus the positive effects of walking and wide-open spaces. I also read Soldiers from the War Returning by Thomas Childers to get an idea of the authentic story of the men returning from war; The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. for how PTSD affects the brain and body; and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home by Marshele Carter Waddell and Kelly K. Orr, PhD, ABPP to understand the battlefield specific emotional wounds, and how that affects a warrior’s family.
Q: An author often writes part of herself into the story, or at least something she knows about. How have you been affected by PTSD?
There have been long stretches of my life where I was all too familiar with debilitating fear. I still have occasional flashes from my childhood, the rush of adrenaline causing my pulse to pound and hands to shake. I was terrified to have kids, to be the one responsible for their physical/mental/emotional wellbeing. The last thing I wanted was for them to have the same problems I had. But, as Dovie May says, “The best place for miracles is where we don’t fully believe, where our believing has run out.” My husband, Chris, and his family, as well as my good friend, Sarah De Mey,and my mom (who worked hard to get help), have been amazing role models for me as I navigate what it looks like to raise emotionally healthy kids.
All that peace came crashing down when my daughter became ill. She was hospitalized seven times over a few months’ time and the doctors had no idea what caused her illness. After months of visiting doctors to find out why my thirteen-year-old daughter was experiencing increasing abdominal pain, she collapsed at school. What followed was a living nightmare. Doctors found her abdominal cavity full of a fungal infection that quickly went septic. That was the first time we almost lost her. Months later, she’d lost more than forty pounds, and both she and I were wracked with nightmares, an inability to drive anywhere near the hospital, or be in a room with needles. To this day, I can’t smell rubbing alcohol without my body responding with panic.
On paper she should not have survived, and I can’t describe the immense fear that comes from the Pediatric ICU or a parade of doctors. My girl is doing great now, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I didn’t finish the book, and hadn’t found the path to hope until after my daughter had walked out of the hospital for the last time.
I’m enormously grateful for EMDR, my therapist, and the grace of God that much of my fear is gone.
Q: The novel includes a good deal of discussion about the nature of evil and the character of God. The characters acknowledge that God doesn’t stop bad things from happening. How do they reconcile the hurt and pain in their lives with their concept of a loving God?
The problem of pain is one that even the best and brightest theologians and thinkers don’t have a perfect answer for. There are pat answers—God uses hard things to make us better or God walks with us through our pain. But when I was in the hospital, totally overwhelmed and crying in the bathroom so my daughter wouldn’t hear me, the easy answers didn’t help. And so I (and my characters) often sit with C. S. Lewis saying, “I never knew grief felt so much like fear.” Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope, and that the Sam she marriedis lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it.
And so what do we do?
In the story, Sam says, “If you pop in the middle of the story, you might just mistake the hero for a failure or worse, a monster. But it’s the scrabbling out of trouble and finding the truth deep inside him that transforms that character into a hero of light and goodness.” In essence, “Remember that it ain’t over until it’s over.” I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work.
Annie and Sam find their way to gratitude—for simple joys of a birthday Karo nut pie, collard greens, the sunrise, and mostly the people in their lives. Their determination to be the good in each other’s lives is what slowly, over time, turns their attention away from the shadows and back on the life they have. As Dovie May says, “Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.” It isn’t immediate. And it isn’t easy. But the sunrise always follows the dark night.
Q: How does the imagery of light and darkness, especially in a spiritual sense, weave throughout the story?
Early in the story, Annie says, “A body can hide where the light was closed out, but the devils can hide there just as easy.” The temptation for both Annie and Sam (and all of us, really) is to either give up (wallow in the darkness) or to run away from it (which only keeps us in the darkness longer). While wallowing or running seem like easier choices, they’re also dangerous and far more painful in the long run. Both Sam and Annie try to fight the darkness alone, each not quite trusting anyone else.
Throughout the book, they both learn that the dark places are really where strength starts. Since Sam and Annie are farmers, they come to think of it in terms of seeds. “There ain’t no growth without darkness. You know that better’n most. If you throw a seed atop the soil, it’ll get snatched away by the wind or the birds. You gottabury it in the good, rich soil, and then it’s gotta split open afore it can grow. . .. We were all made to grow and stretch into the sunlight.”
Q: You’ve been on the publisher’s side of things for many years, both in marketing and as an editor working with authors. Have you always wanted to write as well? Has anything surprised you being on the author side?
I didn’t start writing or really even think about being a writer until a few years into my career as the marketing manager for a publisher. I actually started college as a chemistry major and ended up as an English major by default. There’s a whole story in hereabout me being a sassy know-it-all seventeen-year-old punk, and my mom being right. But suffice it to say, the major change was me heeding my mom’s advice to do what I loved (reading).
Anyway, I was freelancing for our editorial department, and our managing editor asked me if I would consider writing a book. It sounded interesting. I wrote a short novel for the middle schoolers I mentored at my church, then I did a few picture books for my daughter, and then I took a long break to raise my kids. When I found time to write a book again, it was so life-giving, I don’t even have words to describe it. I was hooked.
But let me tell you that being an author has changed drastically in the last decade. There’s a much heavier load to lift for authors now—both in terms of tracking story trends and marketing. But it’s also easier than ever to be in contact with readers. I absolutely adore the opportunity to chat with folks about their lives on Facebook, see their pictures on Instagram, and just talk books with the world. It’s crazy to me that I can chat with friends in California and Australia and South Africa and Brazil just by typing (or speaking) into a little box on a screen. I will forever love technology for that.
The writing community also took me by surprise. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a varied group as welcoming and helpful as this group. They’ve been a tremendous support as I’ve worked through edits and marketing and all the highs and lows that come with publishing. There’s so much love and joy there. Julie Cantrell, Rachel McDaniel, Janine Rosche, Susie Finkbeiner, J’nellCiesielski, and so many more have been absolutely amazing.
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
Journalist Nellie Wilkerson has spent the bulk of the war in London, photographing pilots taking off and landing—and she’s bored. She jumps at the chance to go to France, where the Allied forces recently landed. She enlists Jean-Paul Breslau of the French underground to take her to the frontlines. On the journey, they come upon an orphanage where nuns shelter children with disabilities. Can they help save them before the Nazis come to liquidate it?
It is the evening after I finished A Picture of Hope, #2 Heroines of WWII, by Liz Tolsma. I am experiencing a very real sense of loss because I can’t spend any more time with Nellie and Jean-Paul. Why, oh, why, did I stay up so late last night to get to the end? Oh, yes… it would have been agonizing not to know what became of Nellie and Jean-Paul!
I love how Marie-Terese is such a strong, influential secondary character. She gently encourages and nudges others to strengthen their faith muscle. Yet, we see that she has doubts, which makes her very human.
The faith aspect is woven in beautifully. Doubts are allowed. Trust is a strong theme. God wins over evil, but maybe not in our timing.
The inclusion of Downs syndrome children as a main component of the story is as delicious as Texas sheet cake. And done just as tastefully. Liz Tolsma possesses a special education background and is also a parent of a special needs child. Tolsma’s expertise shines throughout the book, both in the Downs Syndrome aspect and the French Resistance of WWII.
It’s always great to have fact vs fiction notes at the end! I find it fascinating to see what parts of history an author has been able to incorporate into the story; what events are true, but dates are fudged to fit the story, or when personalities are blended to create an authentic character.
A fabulous, haunting book. May we never forget!!
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit via Netgalley. All opinions are my own, and no positive review was required.
“Photographs don’t always have to be pretty. Sometimes they tell a story. That’s what I want mine to do. Tell the story of this war so the world knows what is going on and so our children and grandchildren and all those who come after us will never forget what happened on this beach or in these fields.”
“This suffering is meant to make our souls long for heaven. This world wearies us and weighs us down. Oh, but there is another world where we will never weary and where we will never long for anything better.”
“Even if you only help one person, that is enough. By aiding a single individual, you have changed one world.”
“I would rather suffer in chains for the sake of freedom than be free for the sake of tyranny.”
“But she is safe in God’s hands. That’s safer than you could keep her.”
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Truly Magnificent!! A Stunning Picture– May We Never Forget!!
About the Author
Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels, romantic suspense novels, prairie romance novellas, and an Amish romance. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their youngest daughter. Her son is a US Marine, and her oldest daughter is a college student. Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her website at http://www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She is also the host of the Christian Historical Fiction Talk podcast.
More from Liz
Why Another WWII Novel Set in France
You may well read the back cover of my latest release, A Picture of Hope, and wonder why on earth we need another WWII novel set in France. After all, Kristy Cambron just had one. Melanie Dobson and Sarah Sundin will be coming out with theirs in 2022. So why did I feel the need to write my novel with the same setting?
First of all, I’m a Francophile. I love all things French. It started when I took French in high school. Everyone else was learning Spanish, but I wasn’t into being part of the crowd. There were only a few of us in the class, and it was great fun. We had a wonderful teacher. Being able to pull out some of that French, refine it a bit, and use it in the book was a blast. But I also love French food (who doesn’t?) and everything else.
Secondly, I hadn’t written about France before. When I wrote this proposal at least five or six years ago, I didn’t know France would be so hot. God did, and the book came about in His perfect timing. I’d explored the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Philippines. Such a shame that I was leaving out France, so I set about to write a novel located in that country.
Thirdly, there was so much good material to pull from. The French resistance, while small, did good work and sacrificed a great deal to get Jews out of the country and into Switzerland or Spain. The books that Kristy, Melanie, Sarah, and I write are all so different. Only the setting is the same. And when I found out that the famous mime Marcel Marceau was part of the resistance, I couldn’t help but giving him a cameo. Be on the lookout!
Along the way, I discovered some truly heartrending incidents that took place in France. They also compelled me to write this book. I long for the world to remember what happened so that we will never forget. And so that the atrocities committed there will never be repeated.
Fourthly, this was originally the third book in a series. Don’t worry – it’s a stand-alone. Maybe someday I’ll get to publish the other two. The women in the series are all American journalists in Europe. One is a reporter, the other is a broadcaster, and so I decided to make Nellie, the heroine in A Picture of Hope, a photojournalist. And where better to take pictures than on Omaha Beach soon after D-day. How she gets there is based on a very interesting true story, so be sure to read to the end for that one.
There are so many stories about WWII to be told and so many countries that participated in the conflict in one way or the other. The ground is so rich that we aren’t plowing the same parcel. You’ll find all of these books to be very different from each other, each with its own message, its own voice, and its own plot.
The focus in my book is on children with Down syndrome. I have a background in special education, and my husband and I adopted a child from the Philippines with an intellectual disability, so I’ve always had a heart for people with special needs. My daughter brings us so much joy that I wanted to share a glimpse into what these remarkable people are truly capable of.
So that is why I wrote a WWII novel set in France. Make yourself a cup of café au lait, butter up a croissant, and enjoy A Picture of Hope!
Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.
FBI cryptographer Eloise Marshall is grieving the death of her brother, who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, when she is assigned to investigate a seemingly innocent letter about dolls. Agent Phillip Clayton is ready to enlist and head oversees when asked to work one more FBI job. A case of coded defense coordinates related to dolls should be easy, but not so when the Japanese Consulate gets involved, hearts get entangled, and Phillip goes missing. Can Eloise risk loving and losing again?
Eloise Marshall cannot stand Phillip Clayton. She finds him arrogant, condescending, and full of old-fashioned ideas about women’s roles in society.
Phillip Clayton can’t believe his new partner is a woman. One with no espionage experience or training, and this mission they’re on… interviewing women about collector’s dolls?! Child’s play when you consider the life-and-death case he is currently wrapping up.
How do two mismatched people move from disdain and contempt to grudging admiration to love? Author Johnnie Alexander aptly traces this very gentle, romantic adventure from its inception in her suspenseful novel, The Cryptographer’s Dilemma, #1 Heroines of WWII.
I love the way that we see the softer sides of both Phillip and Eloise come to light in the other’s eyes, and their integrity become evident.
This line made Phillip swoon-worthy to me:
“In the depth of his eyes, she detected curiosity, but more than that, she found compassion.”
Yes, Phillip is good looking, but Eloise finds that off-putting until she realizes his gentle, caring nature. Isn’t that an important quality most women want in a man?
Eloise, for her part, like Phillip, knows when to pry and when to give him space until he’s ready to share the massive burdens weighing down his heart. Plus she’s brave, adventurous, smart, and good at ferreting out information from suspects.
One part of the storyline gave me pause. I puzzled over it for a couple of days, wondering if the character’s actions fit with how that person was drawn. I finally decided one never knows the human heart and its machinations. I may or may not have written that part of the story with those results, but I agree it could be plausible.
If you like WWII novels, near-enemies to lovers(clean) stories, or tales where individuals overcome hurts in their past, this Johnnie Alexander novel is calling your name. Listen.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required. All opinions are my own, voluntarily given.
Magnificent! WWII Espionage with Dolls. You will fall in love with the hero and heroine as they gradually learn to work together.
About the Author
Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget in a variety of genres. An award-winning, best-selling novelist, she serves on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, co-hosts Writers Chat, and interviews other inspirational authors for Novelists Unwind. Johnnie lives in Oklahoma with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at http://www.johnnie-alexander.com and other social media sites via https://linktr.ee/johnniealexndr.
More from Johnnie
American Traitor in WWII
Not all secret messages involve substitution codes where random letters and numbers replace the original letters and numbers. Velvalee Dickinson, a doll collector who owned a doll shop on Madison Avenue in New York City, used jargon code to pass along information to the Japanese about the U.S. ships that had been damaged at Pearl Harbor.
Here’s an excerpt from one of the letters (as originally written):
The only new dolls I have are THREE LOVELY IRISH dolls. One of these three dolls is an old Fisherman with a Net over his back—another is an old woman with wood on her back and the third is a little boy….I can only think of our sick boy these days. You wrote me that you had sent a letter to Mr. Shaw, well I want to see MR. SHAW he distroyed Your letter, you know he has been Ill. His car was damaged but is being repaired now. I saw a few of his family about. They all say Mr. Shaw will be back to work soon.
Velvalee, who the FBI nicknamed The Doll Woman, wrote this letter on her Underwood typewriter. She used the return address and forged the signature of one of her regular customers, Mary Wallace of Springfield, Ohio. Then Velvalee mailed the letter to an address in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Unknown to Velvalee, the Japanese had abandoned the Buenos Aires address as a drop point. The letter was marked “return to sender.” When Mrs. Wallace received it, she turned it in to the Post Office Director in Springfield who passed it along to the FBI.
Cryptographers determined that the letter was written in jargon code. To the casual reader, the letter is about dolls. But the intended recipient would have understood it’s about much more than that.
In this example, only one of five letters given to the FBI between February and August of 1942,
cryptographers decoded the message as follows:
Old Fisherman with a Net over his back ~ refers to an aircraft carrier which has anti-torpedo nettings on its sides.
Old woman with wood on her back ~ refers to an older battleship, one made of wood.
A little boy plus our sick boy ~ a damaged ship.
Cryptographers believed that the words Mr. Shaw and Your were purposely capitalized and that the word distroyed was purposely misspelled to draw attention to them. Mr. Shaw referred to the USS Shaw, a destroyer (distroy + your = destroyer).
The remainder of the letter says Mr. Shaw is ill but “will be back to work soon.”
The ship was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. As the heroine in The Cryptographer’s Dilemma explains, “About two weeks before this letter was written, it [the USS Shaw] was undergoing repairs in San Francisco.”
In the novel, Eloise Marshall is a naval cryptographer who teams up with FBI agent Phillip Clayton, to find the person responsible for forging the signatures on the letters. Their search takes them from Washington, DC to the Springfield, Ohio, to the west coast and back again. On their journey, Eloise will confront an unexpected specter from her past and Phillip will risk his life to save hers.
We are the dwelling place of God—it is woven into our very DNA. Do we change the core of who we are by manipulating our genes? Is gene-therapy a miraculous cure or a slippery slope into eugenics?
Following their marriage, Dr. Nicklaus Hart and Maggie Russell enjoy the splendor and passion of a honeymoon in Hawaii. They learn that their union has brought new life, but the overflowing joy of Maggie’s pregnancy and their romantic getaway is interrupted by the shocking news of a genetic disorder discovered in Maggie’s family lineage. The devastating possibility that both Maggie and the baby carry the mutated gene for the horrific Huntington’s disease, shakes their faith.
Faced with this dreadful diagnosis, Nick and Maggie seek peace as they wrestle with the heartbreaking discovery of a genetic disease versus the knowledge that God is good—He has made their baby in His image and knit him together in Maggie’s womb. Like the millions of people around the world affected with genetic disorders, Nick and Maggie look for answers. With the belief that people are the dwelling place of God, and He is woven into the DNA, what should they do when that DNA has been corrupted?
Nick and Maggie travel to Poland, where the top geneticist, Emmanuelle Christianson, has founded and operates BioGenics whose mission statement is: Advancing the Human Genome. They understand that medical advances always cost something, but they face impossible decisions. They are unaware that the sinister side of genetic research has slithered in from the horrors of Nazi death camps into this modern-day technology. Their journey reveals more than the fight for knowledge, it uncovers a simmering evil left over from World War II. One that puts their lives in danger.
I find myself crying as I finish this book. The Gene, #4 A Dr. Nicklaus Hart Medical Thriller, by Dr. Timothy Browne is not an easy read. Browne describes the horrors of German death camps and particularly the research of Dr. Joseph Mengele through his fictitious story of Dr. Emannuelle Christianson. Christianson is a top geneticist and reproductive doctor at Biogenics, a Polish premier hospital known for its cutting-edge development in genetic disorders. Maggie and Nick, recently married, seek out Dr. Christianson when they discover Maggie carries an abnormal gene that results in a horrific disease. With enough backstory to be read as a stand-alone, The Gene tackles a complicated medical condition and breaks it down into understandable bits for the non-medical reader. As we progress through the book, Browne explains the ethical dilemma behind gene therapy and exposes its roots as seemingly benign, often acceptable procedures and intentions.
”Making human beings smarter, stronger, and healthier—isn’t that the goal of all parents who take their children to the doctor, enroll them in the best schools they can afford, and drag them to weekly violin lessons? Gene therapy is no different, ” opines Herr Bauer. Great friendships, floundering faith amid great pain, and evil masquerading as good, are all themes drawn out. The lure of power and its ability to corrupt is laid bare. The novel contains a bit of language and vivid scenes of man’s savagery against man.
The Gene will appeal especially to those who like both World War II fiction and medical thrillers. received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving this review, and all opinions are my own. Notable Quotables:
”…often what medicine can do runs counter to what it should do.
“Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean He doesn’t believe in you. Darkness is not an entity in and of itself. It is only the absence of light. Your doubt is simply the absence of faith.”
Rating: 4 out of 5.
About the Author
Timothy Browne, MD draws from life and work experience when writing. For many years, he has worked as an orthopaedic surgeon and medical missionary for Operation Blessing, Mercy Ships, and Hope Force International. His work has taken him to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Ukraine, Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, North Korea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Haiti and Sierra Leone. He now resides in Western Montana with his wife, Julie, who along with their three sons, served with him.
More from Timothy
Christian Fiction that will get your heart pounding!
After finishing The Gene, the fourth book in the Dr. Nicklaus Hart Series, I have been able to look back at this body of work. The heart of my prose remains the same: to entertain and educate—fueled with imagination, inspired by history, and grounded in truth. I explored the mystery of North Korea and the threat of bioterrorism in Maya Hope, the complexities of the middle East and the history of Mesopotamia in The Tree of Life, the controversies of Big Pharma and our health in The Rusted Scalpel, and now examine the history of eugenics and the pitfalls of gene-therapy in The Gene.
Writing The Gene has taken significant research: exploration of Poland, investigation of the Nazi doctors and their horrendous medical experiments, the history of eugenics around the world, and of course, the science of genetics. The work has been satisfying, edifying, and many times, heartbreaking.
To save a life, would you betray everyone you love?
Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.
Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, happily planning her wedding. At first she doesn’t think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing–and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?
When the rest of the family’s lives are directly threatened, Patrik’s secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her–and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . .
“Which sin was worse- murder or lying?” So wonders Bognar Éva in The Refrain Within, a Christian WWII novel by Liz Tolsma. Musician Éva sees life’s choices as being very clear and decisive, with no middle ground. As the Germans oppress Hungarians daily, Éva doesn’t understand all the reasons the Gestapo is after her sister-in-law. When her fiancé, Kedves Patrik is not the person Éva thought, whom will Éva be able to trust?
This is a novel so moving and haunting that I sped through it as it made my blood run cold. I had to find out what would happen before the suspense, so palpable, was my undoing. Families being torn apart ripped at my own soul. The reality and historical accuracy is spot on. The warmth of the music was a fitting counterpoint to the cold reality of spies and war.
I loved the fact that there were Messianic Jews in the story. Hope, faith, betrayal, forgiveness, and love- truly beautiful love- shone against a dismal backdrop of occupied Hungary. Those who enjoy inspirational WWII fiction will not want to miss The Refrain Within. I received a complimentary copy of the book from Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. I am voluntarily leaving my thoughts, which represent only my opinions.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
About the Author
Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.
More from Liz
This is the third book in a series all set around music. The first heroine, Anna in The Melody of the Soul, was a violinist. The second heroine, Natia in When the Heart Sings, sang beautifully. So what did I choose for this heroine?
When I was in fifth grade, the band teacher from the middle school came to our class and encouraged us to join. She brought instruments with her for us to try. I really wanted to play the flute. I thought it was very feminine. But all the girls wanted to play that, and I would have to be really good to get a good chair. So I decided on the clarinet. I played all through middle school and high school, making first chair a couple of times. I participated in marching band and in solo and ensemble contests, earning a couple of first places in state competitions. Even after my “career” ended, I continued to play from time to time. I still play in church. I love the rich, full sound of the instrument. When played well, the clarinet is beautiful. It can be playful and happy or dark and sad. It can skip and it can cry. I’m very glad now that I chose the clarinet instead of the flute.
That’s why the heroine of The Refrain Within plays the clarinet. In fact, she comes from a family of clarinet makers, and her family stamp on the barrel of a clarinet means a great deal to her. As God would have it, my editor, Janyre Tromp, is also a clarinet player. Between the two of us, we worked hard bring out the unique aspects of playing clarinet, like the callous that forms on the inside of your bottom lip.
Eva is a special character to me because we share this passion for the clarinet. There have been many times throughout my life that my clarinet has skipped with me and plenty of times when it has cried with me. Music is God’s beautiful gift to us, and I thank Him for the opportunity to share some of that with you in The Refrain Within.
Six short stories by the men of Amish fiction to entertain and educate you. You’ll journey with an Amish man and the Jewish woman whose life he saves, agonize with an Amish girl in love with an Englische man, fret with two sisters both in love with the same man, pray with the family whose child is injured in a fall, work with the Amish sheriff in a western town, and laugh at the girl forced to be Amish for the summer.
If I mention Amish fiction, how many authors could you list? I could easily list four or five, then stretch it maybe to ten with a little thought. And they would all be women. So, The Amish Menorah and Other Stories “by the men of Amish fiction,” caught my attention. This compilation of novellas is a potluck of tastes of writers Patrick Craig, Willard Carpenter, Jerry Eicher, Thomas Nye, Murray Pura, and Amos Wyse. Each man told a very different tale and got a different reaction from me. Patrick Craig’s Amish Menorah was full of suspense and romance between Gerd and Emily. Joshua was my favorite character. I was disappointed when the ending skipped several years of hardship to complete the story happily. While necessary for the length of the narrative, the tale felt unbalanced, action-wise. I had a hard time getting into the second offering, A Cloudy Day, by Willard Carpenter. It is written in the first-person plural present tense. I found this extremely distracting. The author did a good job of showing the very real problems an Englischer army recruit and his Amish intended go through, but I wanted a less abrupt ending and much more resolution than we got. I enjoyed The Silo by Thomas Nye. All through the telling, the reader has a sense of foreboding. What is going to happen? The events are largely seen through the eyes of the eldest brother, Harvey, 15, of a large Amish family. I was surprised exactly what happens and felt the story had a good, solid ending.
Lone Star by Murray Pura is unusual. This short story tells of a crime-ridden Kansas town that solved its problem with a pacifist Amish sheriff, Saul Miller. As outlandish as the idea was, I thought the author explained well how it could have happened. At times the narrative starts to sound a little like a textbook. I wanted the characters to have a little more life. But then, Pura has already pulled off a coup in getting the concept to fly, and the end was a good finishing touch.
My favorite of the group was Amish for the Summer by Amos Wyse. When a drunk, spoiled, rich girl DeeDee causes trouble for an Amish family, she can go to jail or stay with the family for the summer. A very fulfilling story as DeeDee matures and grows up. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors and publisher from Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required. All opinions are my own.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
About the Authors
To know Wil, one would probably not think of him as an author. He is a husband, a father, a Christian, a veteran, a business owner, and a servant. He has led a life of bold and diverse experiences that immediately capture one’s attention. Wil has an unexpected artistic and creative side—something that might be considered uncommon, given his life’s works. Wil’s greatest inner strength is his expression and creativity. His life’s works give a credit to his writing that few other fiction authors possess. This generates a vivid degree of realism above and beyond other works of fiction.
Amazon bestselling author Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful music career to become a pastor in 1986. In 2007 he retired to concentrate on writing and publishing fiction books. In 2013, Harvest House Publishers published his first Amish series, Apple Creek Dreams. Patrick and his wife, Judy, live in Idaho. They have two daughters and Five grandchildren. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency.
Jerry Eicher was born to Amish parents, and raised in an Amish settlement in Honduras, Central America. The family returned stateside in the late seventies, when Jerry was sixteen. He spent his youth with a beloved Amish youth group in Belle Center, Ohio, and was married in 1983 to Tina Schmucker, whose parents had moved to the community from Nappanee, Indiana. Jerry and Tina left the Amish to join the Mennonites after the birth of their second son. He wrote his first work in the early twenties, a fictionalized version of his childhood in Central America. His second title was an Amish love story— Sarah. Since then Jerry has published over thirty fiction titles and sold nearly a million books.
Thomas Nye writes novels about Amish life, with a touch of romance, and a foundation of faith in Christ. He and his wife, Shari, live on her family farm where they raised five children. They have seven grandchildren and a team of draft horses. Thomas walks a mail route for the US Postal Service. It keeps him close to nature and a affords many quiet hours in which to dream up novels. “Over three decades of friendships with Amish neighbors has revealed a simple wisdom that inspires my writing.” To find out more about Thomas Nye and his books, visit: amishhorses.blogspot.com
Murray Pura has over twenty-four novels to his credit and, in addition, has published dozens of short stories, novellas,,and poems along with numerous books of non-fiction. He has worked with Baker, Barbour, Zondervan, Harvest House, MillerWords, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Harper One and Elk Lake Publishing. His fiction has won or been short listed for a number of literary prizes. Pura has lived in the UK, the Middle East, the USA and Canada. He now makes his home in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta.
Amos Wyse was born in the Midwest. Spending a great deal of his youth around good, hard-working farmers, those who lived near them and worked with them. When writing, he keeps those people and the life lessons they taught close by.
More from The Men of Amish
The Amish Menorah and Other Stories was born out of a happy meeting between Patrick E. Craig and Thomas Nye at an Amish writers and readers event put on by Connie Spradling Lynch in Shipshewana, Indiana in 2019. Most of these readers did not know that there were several men who wrote Amish fiction. So Patrick and Tom decided to do something about that. After the conference, invitations went out to Murray Pura, Willard Carpenter, Jerry Eicher and Amos Wyse. Deb Haggerty at Elk Lake Publishers signed on and The Amish Menorah came to be.
Patrick E. Craig
As always, the six of us male authors of Amish fiction, have the goal of writing interesting and inspiring stories about Amish life. Collectively, our purpose in putting together The Amish Menorah, was to offer a sampling of Amish novellas written by men. There are only a few of us guys and dozens of women writing Amish novels. This book is an opportunity for readers of Amish fiction to sample six of our writing styles in one setting.
The Biblical description of a Menorah is a seven-flame lampstand. We like to think of our six stories in the Amish Menorah as six flames, each shining a unique light on Amish life. Our prayer is that you, our readers, will become that seventh flame as you join us by reading The Amish Menorah.
To celebrate their tour, The Men of Amish Fiction are giving away the grand prize package of copy of The Amish Menorah and Other Stories, a copy of Samson and Amish Delilah (by Thomas Nye), and an Amish coloring book designed for Amish children and sold in Amish stores!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.
As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them—but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?
An author friend recently asked for the most romantic line from a book we’d read recently. I couldn’t think of one. Now that I’ve read J’nell Ciesielski’s The Socialite, I have the answer. “Most women would have crumbled by now, but not you. And as long as I’m next to you, I’ll not let you.” (Swoon!)
“For good or bad, family has its way of leaving a mark on you no matter how far you roam.” If I could quote only one line that sums up much of the conflict in this novel, this would be it. Kathleen Whitford has traveled to Nazi occupied Paris to bring home her rebellious, wandering sister, Ellie. Unfortunately, Ellie is running from her controlling family into the arms of a German officer. Kat struggles with Ellie’s behavior, but then Kat begins to realize she herself is desperate to escape her family’s expectations of her. Also desperate to escape secrets is Scots barkeep Barrett Anderson, running from a past threatening to arise from a drunken alley to overtake him. Pawns in a game where the loser forfeits life and/or the war itself, all three are in dire need of escaping the Gestapo.
Ciesielski presents the occupied people, the German conquerors, and the those who mingle in between so well. I don’t read much WWII fiction, and now I remember why not. Ciesielski is not overly gruesome, but just the thought of the atrocities that the Jews or Allied sympathizers faced had my heart beating triple time in terror. Amidst all the double-speak and wondering if the trio could stay out of German concentration camps, I had to laugh when one character well-described consorting with the German hierarchy… “we climb up the social ladder of snakes.”
I loved some history tidbits. Like how rationing caused women to go from silk stockings to cotton stockings to staining their legs with tea. Ugh! Or how the German officers would require only German music be played. So, talented, wily artists would adapt well-known English tunes to mock their captors and cheer their countrymen.
I had to smile, even as I was very anxious whether the three would be found out.
Themes include betrayal, escaping family expectations, and overcoming pride.
One theme, Barrett repeatedly reminds Kat, is that everybody serves an important purpose in the machinery of espionage. No role is more glorious nor less crucial. So reminiscent of the body of Christ, where each has a job, and all are needed, whether they appear so or not.
What I may have wished for: an inclusion of God in the story, and a little less emphasis on lengthy details of kisses. Physical love is indeed powerful, but I like best when it is subtle and hinted at.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This in no way influences my opinions, which are solely my own.
4 Stars- Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’Nell
I blame Pinterest. Too many hours are spent chasing rabbit holes of glorious pictures of fashion from eras gone by, Highlanders in kilts, WWI ambulances, and fairytale castles. One day I was browsing something super important (or possibly escaping from the actual work I was supposed to be doing, er, we’ll never know) and stumbled across a black and white picture of six beautiful girls. Who are these lovely ladies? I wondered. A quick search brought up the Mitford sisters. Six gorgeous daughters born into an aristocratic English family, each girl with a different passion: Diana the fascist, Jessica the communist, Unity the Hitler lover, Nancy the novelist, Deborah the duchess, and Pamela the poultry connoisseur. Whoa. You know dinner time around their family table was interesting. How could such different personalities belong in the same family? What would you do if your sister got moon-eyed over Hitler??
Bam. An idea was born.
In the beginning, my little rebel Ellie was going to be a full-fledged Nazi ideology lover, but she quickly informed me that it wasn’t so much the Nazis or their crazy ideas she loved, but one man in particular. One twisted Nazi who had fallen completely under her spell, and she under his. The ideas of love can often be more difficult to break as Kat finds out when she tries to rescue her naïve sister. Luckily, she has a hunky Sottish bartender to help her while providing a few romantic intentions of his own. With everyone hiding past hurts and true identities, how will they ever hope to find the love they each long for when war rages under the bright lights of Paris? Guess you’ll have to read to find out 😉
After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her vintage, though very outdated, home. Aggie didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in a dollhouse.
Mystery seems to follow Aggie when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the town’s cemetery. Forced to work with a puzzling yet attractive archaeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep hidden–even if that means silencing Aggie.
In 1946, Imogene Grayson works in a beauty salon but has her sights set on Hollywood. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the burgeoning world of forensic science and, as a woman, not particularly welcomed into the investigation, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . no matter the cost.
“My mother told me that when the boys came home from the war, people thought the world would go back to the way it was before. But it didn’t. The war lived on in souls for years after, and people were just never really the same again.” This quote by Jaime Jo Wright in Echoes Among the Stones so aptly captures the mood of Mill Creek, Wisconsin in July of 1946. Wright recreates the ominous heaviness that the war brings to America’s hearts. Some people, like the young men who survive, come home brooding or unable to find their way out of the horror now relegated to memory. Others are affected by the loss of family members or the great personality change in a family member who returns. Still others like Imogene and Hazel are also affected second-hand by the war brought to America.
Jaime Jo Wright has penned yet another mystery novel with spooky, ominous undertones that beckon the tentative reader in. Echoes Among the Stones is a time-slip novel, marrying two distinctly different and at first seemingly unrelated plots, no pun originally intended. In the present day, Aggie loses her real estate job and returns to her selfish, demanding grandmother’s home, while working a cemetery job. Collin, the archaeologist who works with Aggie, frustrates her, intrigues her, and challenges her by turns. There was enough eerie mystery, romance, and humor (“You have all the sense of an addlepated muskrat, ”) plus faith scattered throughout the book that this book is a big winner for me. Also, I loved the way the solution took me by surprise. Look for this book among my favorites in 2019.
Quotes: “Sometimes…you must step outside of your own strength and realize there’s a greater Strength waiting to hold you.”
“All I can say right now is that we sell God short when we look at the pain. Instead, we should focus on what He’s provided us to help us heal.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.
5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!
About the Author
Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!
With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.
Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.
Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?
Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.
Set in Pennsylvania in 1943, this war romance introduces Rochelle Addams and Irwin Terrell. Linda Shenton Matchett has written Love’s Allegiance with two goals in mind, maybe three. First, Matchett provides a modern-day retelling of Isaac and Rebekkah. Secondly, we get a glimpse inside mental hospitals at the time, and thirdly, we are shown the poor treatment of Conscientious Objectors during World War II.
We need more people who think like Irwin working with our mentally ill and special needs people. He realized the value of a person and gave that person the dignity of having space to prove himself. The romance seemed to be written in a minor key. I kept hoping the “song” would hit some major key phrases, but they didn’t stand out. I wanted to be shown more than told. I really did appreciate the education I received about Co’s role in WWII. I didn’t realize things were quite so difficult once they volunteered.
I think there are many who might really enjoy this book. You may want to check this book out. Points to Matchett for the reader’s guide with questions and the historical notes at the end. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via Celebrate Lit. This in no way influenced my opinion, which is solely my own.
4 Stars- Excellent- I Would Recommend This Book.
About the Author
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.
More from Linda
Love’s Allegiance is the fourth book in the Wartime Brides series that retells biblical stories by setting them during World War II. Each story was challenging to write in some way, and this novella was no different.
While brainstorming ways to twist Rebekkah’s and Isaacs’s love story, I happened to take a phone call from my younger brother who is a pastor. I mentioned my quandary that I wasn’t sure which aspect of the home front to address with their story, and he suggested the topic of conscientious objectors (COs).
After we hung up, I realized I knew very little about COs and that I wasn’t sure how I felt about them. Were they cowards, as many people assumed? Were they right? Wrong? Were their convictions biblically based?
I began my research by reading first-person account articles and watched oral history interviews with men who served in the Civilian Public Service, a government organization created to use COs who refused military service as medics and other non-combatant roles. More than 12,000 conscientious objectors chose not to take up arms during the war, and I knew I had to tell their side of the story.