I was given an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. My version has the UK cover with the heroine wearing a gorgeous red coat – in my head it’s the characters Sheila and Luc! Unfortunately I don’t have an image available to post of the cover here yet.
I always knew that this book would be an emotive read by its very subject it has to be. Marguerite Kaye has managed to do this and to show us the horrors of war without it being a history lesson or over dwelling on the horrors – oh they are there and they are done well – but these three stories are romances after all.
The three interlinked stories are: A Kiss Goodbye from 1914 which begins ‘our’ war in 1914 with Flora a young lady from the great house who meets the hero Geraint when he arrives with the army after her family’s home is requisitioned. I was very happy to see the hero’s surname and you’ll have to ask me if you want to know why! I enjoyed all of the stories, but this one is my least favourite I think. Perhaps as I was almost anticipating how awful the war would get before the stories concluded and although I liked Flora and Geraint I felt I connected more the the later couples and their struggles. Flora in this story has to find her own place in this terrible new world as a nurse or VAD and Geraint has to come to terms with his past and decide upon his future – if they have one. This story is all set in Scotland.
The second part is Dearest Sylvie, and picks up with the hero Robbie, Flora’s brother as he serves in France and meets his heroine Sylvie in 1916 at the peak of a series of now infamous battles across Europe. Sylvie is working in a bar to support herself but is by no means selling herself if you know what I mean. Her actions when meeting a tired and wounded Robbie are therefore more unexpected. After connecting at the bar they subsequently begin a sexual relationship that neither expected or really knows what to do with. Is there more between them or was it a mistake to act upon their attraction in the middle of a war? This story connects us to the hero and heroine by their letters a common practice at the time which is cleverly used to move the story forward as they see and miss each other over a period of time. This story is set in France and the will they/won’t they is very strong as the war rages on. Sylvie has a very tragic past due to the suffering that regions of France had in wartime and Robbie cannot know whether he will even survive the war. I really liked this couple, but my favourite were part of the final story of the three.
Forever With Me takes us full circle to 1918 and after briefly showing us the celebrations of the end of war in Europe via France while Sheila, friend and former servant of Flora and Robbie and Glen Massan House who left early on to become a VAD and has now experienced a taste of freedom that servants let alone women could never have dreamed of meets an attractive man when celebrating the end of the war. This of course turns out to be surgeon Luc who is not only her hero but is destined to run the new hospital at Glen Massan for badly injured soldiers and we are returned to Scotland and not a little awkward. Along with freedom Sheila has had her fingers burned and Luc has lost his wife to the war and is wary of opening his heart too. Should they and could they be together? The war is no longer keeping people apart, but society. Women’s freedom has again become curtailed and even should they want to a relationship between co-workers surely cannot be sanctioned…
I would give the final story 5 stars for the last few pages alone, which are extremely emotionally charged and 4 for the others as all are well and sensitively written and well researched. Don’t be put off by the subject, these are great stories and all of us, even now can still feel the emotional after effects of this terrible war to end all wars. All of the stories contain at least some sensual scenes. Marguerite Kaye takes a tough period in our history and does a great job with it – as she also did with her Titanic set story, which these remind me of a little. You may want to try that story next if you enjoyed these ones.
A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.