I won a copy of this inspirational historical romance when the author, Patty Smith Hall, did an interview on Kaye Dacus’s blog, which you can read here. I was intriuged, of course, by the World War II setting, but also because it features a hero and heroine who are both pilots. Not that I’m airplane-crazy or anything, but most of the love stories set during wars involve a soldier who go off to fight and leave the heroine to “keep the homefires burning” while she worries herself sick. In fact, I, um, kind of wrote one of those stories myself. But a story of love that grows between two pilots? That’s a different take on wartime romance, and the book proved a very enjoyable read.
Maggie Daniels has been flying most of her life for her father’s crop-dusting business, but when war breaks out and her male relatives go off to fight, she joins the WASP, the women’s branch of the Army Air Corps (as the Air Force was called in those days). The female pilots don’t fly in combat, but rather take over training, repairs, and other state-side duties so men can go overseas. Maggie loves flying, but her family and community express mixed feelings about her choosing a career over marriage and children, something she struggles with throughout the book.
Wesley Hicks has seen his share of air combat by the time he’s assigned to lead Maggie’s squadron near her hometown in Georgia. Though he’s leary of her at first, Wesley soon realizes Maggie’s skill and determination…and her beauty and kindness. Wesley fears for Maggie’s safety at an almost irrational level as he falls more and more in love with her, especially as he’s haunted by memories of another lost pilot for which he blames himself. Through all of this inner turmoil, both characters explore what is really at stake in trusting God, loving each other, and holding true to principles of gender equality.
I felt a strong connection to both of these characters and to many of the supporting ones as well. They dealt with real issues of the time, especially the changing roles of women during wartime. Maggie’s “war job” is a natural extension of the passion and skills she already had prior to the war, and it’s a job she knows is dangerous. How far should men go to “protect” women in such positions? Can women knowingly take the same risks as men, for their country and for themselves? These are questions this novel grapples with, and they resonate with what I’ve learned of this time in history. And what good WWII story doesn’t have a scene of the hero and heroine dancing at a USO club? I very much enjoyed the one found in this book.
(Oh, and I’m sorry, but I’m keeping my copy, which was inscribed to me. Our next contest will be in September.)