Review and Give-Away: For The Love of a Soldier by Victoria Morgan
In my experience reading historical romance, they fall into three categories. One is the "wallpaper" historical, which is not concerned with fact or accuracy. The time period is merely to establish some texture in the storyline. The second type pays more attention to detail--the clothing, language, and setting have been researched, the historical backdrop is part of the fabric of the novel. The third type is most interesting to me, since I started reading historical fiction as a young girl. The history is integral to the book. The characters are real and imagined, intertwined within the narrative. History comes alive. We go back in time and get to experience something outside of our own personal reality.
I love them all. Silly historicals like Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister, elegant and refined novels such as Stephanie Laurens's books and those by Mary Balogh. And every once in a while we get something extraordinary. Something that teaches us about a different time period, but at the same time satisfies our craving for romance and happy endings.
For The Love of a Soldier manages to do it all. This book is an absolute gem. Morgan's story has combined complex characters, a satisfying love story, and a fascinating examination of the Battle of Balaclava and its devastating consequences for the soldiers who survived. Many historical romances have heroes who have been traumatized by war, but usually the reality of battle is glossed over and sacrificed for a romantic storyline. Not in this case. Morgan makes the stark horror of the war very real--by the post traumatic stress experienced by her hero and by the crippled soldiers who return home to poverty.
There is a stunning scene in this story that made me cry repeatedly. The hero finally confides to the heroine about his experience with the battle made famous by the Tennyson poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. It is emotional, horrifying, and cleansing for Garrett. Alex handles the moment perfectly, and it becomes a turning point for Garrett's healing. Bravo to Victoria Morgan for bringing this fascinating bit of history to life, and seamlessly weaving it into her storyline.
But there is more than history here. There is charming and sexy banter. There are wonderful secondary characters who are clamoring for a story. There are laugh-out-loud funny moments to balance the serious tone in other sections. The mystery propels the plot along, but it is not the primary focus of this book. The primary focus is the characters and their believable love story. I fell madly in love with Garrett. Quite simply, he is a good man. A thoughtful man. A man who does the right thing by his friends, the soldiers who counted on him, by a stranger who has lost everything in a card game. And eventually, the woman he loves.
Alexandra is also a true hero. She is loyal to those who have earned her trust. And she reaches out to this man, despite his bad reputation, because she believes in her heart it's the right thing to do.
And the icing on the historical romance cake is that this novel is beautifully and intelligently written. Morgan's voice is perfect for this genre. She has just the right balance of history, romance, and intelligent prose.
If I had to choose one area to nitpick, I would say that the love scenes were a bit too long. I like them short and sweet, but that's just me.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for those who love romances that weave real history with a satisfying love story and a blissful HEA. For The Love of a Soldier is a remarkable debut novel.
Victoria Morgan is not only a fabulous writer, a talented artist, a GOLDEN HEART nominee, a world-wide traveler, a voracious reader, and an intrepid skier, she is also a horrible cook, a hilarious friend, and one of my critique partners. I was lucky enough to read this book as it was created, and I knew right away that Vicki had written something really special. Evidently, the RWA judges for the Golden Heart agreed with me, and so did her agent and Berkley. And I know that readers will love this beautiful story, too! (By the way, to see some of Vicki's awesome art work, check out her website and blog).
To celebrate Vicki's debut release day, I'm giving away 2 free copies of FOR THE LOVE OF A SOLDIER (print or ebook for US entries, and ebooks for international winners). Contest is open until March 12. Just leave a comment WITH YOUR EMAIL so I can contact you if you win.
All my best,