Reviewed by Louise Wykes
Sweet Romance… Fresh off their whirlwind nuptials and unexpected, but joyous pregnancy, April and Hale Abercrombie are gleeful about their life together. But, while Hale is serving his country in Vietnam, he receives news of the loss of their newborn daughter.
Back home on leave, Hale can barely wait to hold his wife. Their reunion is passionate and their physical connection, strong and soothing. His embrace, his touch, and his love are just as perfect as April remembered. But nothing, not even Hale, can ease April’s heartache.
Hale stumbles through his attempts at convincing her that their future will be rich and full of wonder despite their loss. His good-hearted, but take-charge approach causes her to retreat. Even in grief, April recognizes Hale’s earnestness, yet she can’t help but distance herself from him. With only a short time before Hale must return to war, the couple begins to understand that hope starts with them—that the bliss they once knew will return only if they are willing to trust again.
As a mum to a very active daughter, I cannot even begin to comprehend the pain of losing a child especially a stillborn child who never even drew a breath. This may seem a very sad and hopeless subject for a novel but this book handles such a difficult subject in a beautiful and sensitive way and leaves the reader feeling moved and hopeful.
April Abercombie’s husband Hale is fighting the war in Vietnam when he is called back home to try and help his new wife cope with the shocking loss of their first child who was stillborn. Hale is not sure what to expect as he believed April was coping and knows that if his boss was worried enough to allow him home, he knows that the situation must be worse than he feared.
The story alternates between April and Hale’s viewpoint which allows the reader to feel close to the main characters and allows the reader to discover just how complicated a relationship can be when both parties are grieving but want to help and console each other. April’s mood swings are difficult for Hale to comprehend and leave him feeling confused about the best way to help April whilst still coming to terms with the loss himself. This book shows wonderfully how the sexes can differ in their approach to problems: as a soldier, Hale is used to finding quick solutions to conflict and problems, but April doesn’t need or want a “solution” she just wants someone to talk to so she can deal with her feelings.
The beautiful writing in this book often led me to forget that this was not a contemporary story and what really bought home the fact that this book was set in the past was April’s doctor’s reaction to her loss and that the best thing April could do was to forget she was ever pregnant and had a child so she could move on with her life. Also the doctor’s carelessness in his notes when he stated that April’s child was a boy when in fact she had a girl and didn’t seem to think that was important. Also he suggested electro-convulsive therapy when it seemed that April wasn’t coping with her grief in the “correct” manner according to him. This treatment was so completely shocking and it was only due to the compassion and insight of a nurse who looked after April that allowed April and Hale to deal with their grief in a way that allowed them to move forward.
Although the book revolves around a difficult subject, it is never depressing and the beautiful descriptions of the landscape make me want to visit the town of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, as it sounds absolutely breath-taking. This is not a book of big action but it is a wonderfully engaging and moving book of real emotion which I absolutely loved and am so happy to discover that there will be another book dealing with April and Hale’s fulfilling and real relationship. I completely recommend this book for a heartfelt exploration of the healing power of love and remembrance.
The author Kathleen Shoop is running a giveaway for the tour for the following prizes, 3 x $15/£10 Amazon Gift Cards plus 1 x recipe book (ties in with Return to Love) Renewal “Anytime” 10 Day Detox by Lisa Consiglio Ryan.
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