I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
This story starts out in Belgium in WWI. The heroine, Adele, is a nurse in an army hospital. These women were called Bluebirds because of their uniforms of light blue and white. Adele has been there for a while and has been able to keep her distance from the injured men she helps treat. The nurses are encouraged not to become personally involved with the patients and Adele works hard to not get attached..
Then a tunneler named Jeremy is brought in wounded severely and requiring a lot of care. These tunnelers were vital to the war effort and spent all their time underground setting explosives to aid their comrades who were fighting above ground. Jerry’s brother, John is also a tunneler and saves Jerry from an explosion by the enemy and makes sure his brother is brought to the hospital. The nurse assigned to Jerry is Adele.
At first, due to his injuries, Jerry can’t talk. Adele spends time with him reading to him and chatting. They draw close, but eventually, Jerry heals and heads back to the front and they lose contact.
Both Jerry and Adele are Canadian and from the same general area of Ontario. When Jerry returns home with his brother, he tries to find Adele but is unsuccessful and fears she died in Belgium. Adele is likewise sure Jerry didn’t survive.
The story follows each of them as they rebuild their lives. This part of the book seemed to drag a bit. Honestly, a lot of the story was slow moving and it took me many days to get through that middle part.
The action eventually picked up after the two of them found their niches in the world. Adele went to work for a local doctor. Jerry and his brother entered the dangerous line of work of running illegal alcohol to the United States during prohibition. This was when the book picked up the pace.
Run-ins with a former friend turned enemy brought a sense of urgency to the plot and this reader enjoyed the new quicker pace of the tale.
It was obvious the author delved deep into research of the era, including the nursing corps of Canada in WWI, the tunnelers of that war and the prohibition era dangers to the smugglers and competitors in the business. There were a lot of intriguing parts such as the various ways the rum-runners got their liquor across the border to sell it, including all the ways they hid bottles in the automobiles. It was also interesting to learn about the way the restaurants in Canada offered free liquor if the patron ordered food as a way to get around the laws in place. This reader wasn’t familiar with Canada’s laws during prohibition, so a lot of the information was new. The author was deft at sliding in the historical details without making the story read like a history lesson.
Overall, the book was good and well-developed. Parts were slow, but I enjoyed the characters and the real history of the times being artfully inserted. I’d recommend this one. 4 stars.