Sunday, October 4, 2015

With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin *****

Set during WWII, With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin is about Lieutenant Philomela Blake (Millie) - an Army nurse - and Lieutenant Tom MacGilliver - an Army engineer - and their  anonymous pen-pal correspondence which results in identity confusions worthy of a Shakespearean comedy. This is an historical romance about the introduction of women nurses into the combat theater for aerial evacuations and the role of engineers in the north African and Sicily campaigns.

Millie was raised by her father, a research botanist, so she was comfortable in primitive surroundings and around men. Tom was raised by his mother, so he uncomfortable around men, especially violent ones. So neither was well suited socially for Army life, even though they both had the specialized skills required for their jobs. This is the modern geek/nerd dilemma: "I'd be fine if I can work by myself," but set in World War II.

The challenges of being the first women into combat operations included uniforms. Millie, who had no problem speaking up, interrupted the General with, "We want to wear trousers. The initial uniforms of skirts and heels, were shortly replaced by trousers and oxfords.

 Like a good 21st century romance, the two POV characters, Millie and Tom, have mirrored feelings and challenges, with just the minimal gender stereotyping as required by the historical context. If you like historical romance, this is your book. Not a pot boiler: not so much as kiss between them until the end.

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