Historical Romance, Second World War
London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?
Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?
Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of total war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?
An Emotional and Poignant Romance – Beautifully Done *****
Into the Unknown is a real page-turner, where the plot and the central romance takes place against the backdrop of one of the most traumatic times in what is still, for many, in living memory. It is first and foremost a beautiful romance between the young and headstrong Kate, who comes to England from Ireland against her Catholic father’s wishes, and Charlie, a Flight Lieutenant who is, shall we say, a bit of a ‘ladies man!’
Sparks fly between Kate and Charlie, mirroring their sizzling mutual attraction, and the pair soon embark on a love affair which they fit around their respective duties in the RAF and WAAF. There are some sensual scenes between the couple as they snatch precious moments, conscious that their time together could be curtailed by the vagaries of war at any moment. Charlie, despite caring for Kate very deeply, vows not to consider marriage until the war is over. Throughout I wondered at his real motives for this stance – was it really due to him having witnessed the death of many of his RAF colleagues and their grieving widows as he stated, or does his fear of commitment go deeper?
Kate is a strong character and deals with what life throws at her with a great deal of strength and dignity. Her role in the WAAF reflects how important the role of women was during the war. However, there are limits to what even a strong person can survive with what life has in store for her. Indeed, the war is not kind to Kate or Charlie and they both experience their own personal tragedies, some which pull them together and others which tear them apart. It is touch and go as to whether their love will survive what war throws at them.
I am no expert on this period of history, but to me the novel did a fantastic job of reflecting the political and military realities of the time without detracting from the central plot and romance. I particularly liked how the heroine was Irish, as this gave the author the opportunity to introduce the dynamic of Anglo-Irish relations to the story.
The descriptions of Charlie and his RAF colleagues engaging in conflicts in the air, their friendly banter on the ground and life on the home front is all brought vividly to life by the author. She also does not shy away from the horrors of wartime bombing raids and the physical and psychological injuries suffered by survivors. Some scenes were real tear-jerkers and I reached for a tissue on more than one occasion after my eyes filled up. I’m pleased to say though that I was very happy with the novel’s resolution!
To sum up, Lorna Peel’s Into The Unknown is definitely a read that I’d recommend to readers of historical romance, especially those who like a hefty dose of realism.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
Please note, a copy of the book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.