By Barbara M. Britton
A severely injured WWI veteran and his female caregiver face an Alaskan winter alone in a remote hunting lodge as they wait out an influenza outbreak. That’s the premise for this delicious historical romance.
It’s 1918 in Juneau, Alaska. Mr. Chambers, wealthy owner of the town mine, is desperate to find a caregiver for his son Geoff, a severely injured veteran of Bellau Wood. Seventeen year-old seamstress Josephine “Jo” Nimetz has nursing experience and is desperate to support her ailing, recently widowed mother.
Chambers hires Jo to accompany Geoff to an island hunting lodge for the winter to escape an influenza epidemic. They’re stuck there till June. And they don’t exactly hit it off.
Geoff is initially angry, abrasive, and abrupt. Jo is timid and tentative. They get along like cats and dogs. Over time, however, “Jo” and Geoff develop a truce. When Jo enters a writing contest, their story becomes a story-within-a-story as a friendship begins to bloom. Will it turn into something more? And what of “the beast” outside the lodge? Will Jo’s writing bear fruit? What will happen if a recovered Geoff finds he doesn’t need Jo anymore?
A solid, well-structured plot is fortified by vibrant writing and descriptions like “his tone was like a warm cup of hot chocolate,” her voice “rose like an Easter hymn,” and their “lips melted together like creamed butter on fresh baked biscuits.”
The story ably captures the challenges of winter in Alaska. But it also transcends the usual boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-finds-girl-again formulaic approach to romance writing. The characters are dynamic and three-dimensional, digging deep to summon the courage and mettle needed to face conflict, criticism and multiple misunderstandings and mistakes. The story also touches on the mental, social, and physical difficulties and challenges faced by inured WWI veterans as they struggle to re-integrate into a post-war society.
A clean, refreshing read that will warm body and soul.