In the spring of 1917, all of Britain’s attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.
A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country’s cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.
But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death.
Oh, I cannot tell you how much I had been eagerly anticipating reading this book! And now here it is, release day, and I get to tell you just how hard I fell for this story. This post is my release day celebration of sorts. Even though it’s not my book to celebrate about (obviously), I have been a huge fan of Kate Breslin ever since I first read her debut novel—For Such a Time—and have been sitting on the edge of my seat as I waited for the chance to read this book. Let me say, Kate did not disappoint. Although this novel was almost completely different from her first when it came to the plot and characters, her incredible writing talent was just as evident. She wove every element to this story together perfectly, and her WWI facts were just as impeccable as they were interesting. This story captured my heart from the very first page, carried me away into WWI England, and surprised me with each and every plot twist, though I can say I figured out the little bit of the mystery at the end.
I absolutely love Grace Mabry. I am very confident that if we were of the same world, we would be the best of friends. There are some things about her, like her desire to help her friends and keep them from harm, that remind me so much of myself, while at the same time she has some qualities, such as her boldness that lets her act without fear of anyone else’s reaction, that I long to emulate. Her kindness and generosity are very admirable, especially when paired with her somewhat short temper and slight lack of patience, as they balance each other in a way that makes for an extremely lovable character. Plus, her story was absolutely wonderful. Especially the parts with Jack.
Oh, Jack. Words cannot do him justice. Despite the somewhat displeasing image that is painted by the description, Jack Benningham is by far one of my absolute favorite heroes. Maybe even one of the top ten. Even though he faces so much heartbreak throughout this book, he is not so full of bitterness that he loses his goodness, his compassion, his fight. And I cannot tell you in words just how much I love the way he and Grace interact. Not only did they have the “at first sight” sizzle that makes for so many good romances, but the rest of their relationship was forged through friendship, through all the time they spent together. Always the perfect gentleman—albeit a little rough on the edges—Jack’s real feelings constantly shine through everything he does for Grace, even when they might not be on the best of terms. He truly does know how to be a knight in shining armor, and watching him grow and change was priceless, and just made me fall in love with him even more.
Another thing I loved about this book was the theme of “Not by Sight.” Everyone in this world faces blindness in their life, whether it is physical blindness, mental blindness, or blindness in their relationship with Christ. Kate does a wonderful job of weaving those aspects into her story and showing us how one can overcome them. With each page, she teaches her readers a valuable lesson without ever once making it seem like one. Rather, it is just a byproduct of being immersed in Grace and Jack’s story, and is part of what makes it so memorable. Once again, I applaud her for creating characters who change throughout her novel.
Something else that is a major part of this book is the many secrets that everyone holds. Every single character, or at least close to it, holds a secret unknown to others that makes life in Roxwood just a little more difficult than it would have been otherwise. Add that to the many instances of espionage, and you’ve got a bit of a mystery on your hands. I absolutely love how everyone’s secrets come to light, one way or another, but especially how Grace was such a mentor to her friends in the WFC. Each of the girls on their team held something back, and I loved watching how, one by one, Grace helped make each of their burdens lighter. Her compassion is enviable, and it just goes to show how valuable good friendships can be. Considering the fact that at the very beginning Grace was treated as a complete outcast—which I should have expected since that usually happens when you put five young women under the same roof—it is obvious to anyone who reads this story that Grace has an outstanding amount of patience and grace (fitting huh?) that leads her to make a difference in her friends’ lives.
Clearly this novel is one of my favorites, and deserves every single bookshelf I can give it, which is unfortunately only five, though I would give it more if I could. But, five out of five isn’t so bad, now is it? And after finding this book to be a heartfelt story of faith, love, and forgiveness (but then, I knew it would be), I cannot help but say I know I will be reading it again and again and would recommend it to anyone who knows how to read. In fact, I’ve already got a few friends in mind who I will be lending my copy to in the near future. Kate Breslin did an outstanding job on this novel, and I cannot wait to read more from her!
You can purchase a copy of this wonderful story here!
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.
All credit for the photo goes to my photographer sister Allie. You can find her blog here.
All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Kate Breslin and Bethany House.