Monday, November 11, 2013

Saving the Rifleman by Julie Rowe

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: October 24, 2013

German-occupied Brussels, Belgium. Great War, 1914. British Red Cross nurse Maria Hunt lives in daily fear that the Germans will uncover her secret: she helps wounded British soldiers escape. Lieutenant John Bennet is wounded and running out of options. Trapped behind enemy lines while collecting intelligence, he needs to get out of Belgium if he's going to escape with the information and his life. Maria is devoted to her patients and her cause, but something else compels her to risk her life for this soldier. While a man of Lieutenant Bennet's station would barely speak to her in other circumstances, something in his kind eyes inspires a passion deep within her. As his injuries worsen, can Maria find the courage to guide him through the war-torn countryside? And should they make it back to England, will their burgeoning desire survive the ravages of war?

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Tyne Cot Cemetery & Memorial, South Apse Terrace
At first glance, I wasn't sure about Julie Rowe's Saving the Rifleman. I was intrigued by the historic setting, but in all honesty I was afraid of repeating the experience I had with Charlie Cochrane's Promises Made Under Fire. I have nothing against the genre, I am just not well-versed in it and as such, don't have a lot of confidence in my ability to review these titles. This being the case, I humbly ask that you bear with me and continue reading with the understanding that my background is in historic and young adult fiction rather than romance.

Okay, enough with the disclaimer and on to the review. In terms of content I think Saving the Rifleman has a lot going for it. WWI, occupied Belgium, how often do you find this stuff? I mean really. France, Germany, those titles are a dime a dozen, but Rowe tapped into a lesser known chapter of the war and though her focus is not the history of the occupation itself, the time and place give Saving the Rifleman a really fresh and original feel. 

Another thing I liked about this piece was the level of conflict Rowe worked into this story. For a war time romance, this piece is really very well-balanced. I wouldn't go so far as to say I was genuinely concerned over the fate of Rowe's leads, but I wasn't bored and that is certainly saying something. 

My only complaint about this book is how underdeveloped the relationship between Maria and John felt. I understand the modest length of this piece meant Rowe didn't have a lot of wiggle room to explore and develop their feelings, but all the same, the accelerated velocity of their romance felt a bit too contrived for my taste.  

So do the pros outweigh the cons? I think it's pretty obvious they do. Maybe it is
 a little forced, but Saving the Rifleman is still an enjoyable piece, a light historical with a unique premise and that sets a nice pace for the rest of the War Girls series. 

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“Anyone who thinks they can truly have power over another person, let alone another country is deluded. Power is an illusion. The only people we have power over are ourselves.”
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