1. Semper Fi by Keira Andrews
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: KA Books (April 30, 2015)
Amazon: Semper Fi
Amazon Kindle: Semper Fi
The war is over. The battle for love has just begun.
As Marines, Cal and Jim depended on each other to survive bloodshed and despair in the Pacific. Relieved to put the horrors of war behind him, Jim went home to his apple orchard and a quiet life with his wife and children. Knowing Jim could never return his forbidden feelings, Cal hoped time and an ocean between them would dull the yearning for his best friend.
But when Jim's wife dies, Cal returns to help. He doesn't know a thing about apple farming--or children--but he's determined to be there for Jim, even as the painful torch he carries blazes back to life. Jim is grateful for his friend's support as he struggles with buried emotions and dark wartime memories. Then Jim begins to see Cal in a new light, and their relationship deepens in ways neither expected.
Can they build a life together as a family and find happiness in a world that would condemn them?
This is a historical that is very well done by Ms. Andrews. The characters really pulled me in and I loved the way the author allows them to find their happily ever after.
Of the three historicals I’ve read this is by far my favorite. The author did an excellent job of writing an accurate historical piece and making the love story appealing to the reader. Normally I don’t like a lot of flashbacks, but this was written in a way that made the flashbacks keep the characters story moving forward. The plot itself was original and creative. Excellent job of taking the reader to both the South Pacific and Upstate New York. Both the main characters were written excellently. Their backstories were done well and their growth throughout the story realistic. Language was appropriate to the times. Good use of showing. Pace was enjoyable.
This was by far my favorite book this year. The characterizations were fantastic; the plot moved along at a good pace. I liked the way the chapters went back and forth between past and present as well.
This was a gorgeously written book. Usually, I don't enjoy books that flip between timelines, but in this case it worked very well - the arc of a young Cal and Jim surviving Okinawa and reaching the end of the war carefully mirroring the modern arc of Cal and Jim struggling to come to terms with their relationship and ultimately building a life together with their family. The secondary characters were thoughtfully drawn and the storyline was treated in a lovely, understated and sensitive way. Even the smallest throwaway line of Sergeant Tyrell smiling at Cal to tell him that he was now a Marine was perfectly meaningful, leading the reader to understand that Tyrell had not been abusing his power in treating Cal harshly but hoped to give him the skills to survive wartime and that Cal, to an independent observer, really appeared to be a promising but undisciplined young man. I felt that Jim's agonizing over balancing what was best for his children against what was best for himself and Cal went on just a touch too long and dragged the pace of the plot a bit, but that's a pretty minor complaint. One of my favorite reads this year.
Wow! Two books in one: the story of the war years, then the recovery and journey of self discovery skillfully blended together. Bitter-sweet and utterly enthralling, I cannot recommend this book enough.
2. A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles
3. Undercover Blues by Chris Quinton
4. The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane
5. When Skies Have Fallen by Debbie McGowan
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