While the bells of a Royal Wedding peel out to the fading echoes of war, danger stalks the coastline of Wales…
Injured and terrified after an attempted abduction, desperation drives artist Kate Ward to the idyllic scene of her ex-husband’s recent suicide. Labelled a hysterical, grieving divorcée, no one believes she is being pursued by two violent men demanding answers she cannot give. Not the police, not the doctors, and not the guests at the Aberystwyth hotel she has come to in an attempt to find out what happened to her charismatic photographer ex-husband, and why her identity – and her life – are now at risk.
Kate can trust no one, not even the reclusive war-veteran-turned-crime-novelist, Adam Hitchen, a reserved widower and the only source of kindness in a shadowy world of suspicion and fear. And as ghosts old and new rise to haunt her, Kate must rely on all her strength and courage to uncover the shocking truth hidden within a twisted web of lies…
Well, what can I say about this? What a corker!! It really is an incredible read, this is the first book I have read by Lorna Gray and it definitely will not be the last. I will admit that I am a fan of war-era romances and I have read a lot of them but there is something very special about this book. This book is right up there with the best I have read right alongside the likes of Pam Jenoff and Kate Mosse.
Set just after the war in 1947, After Kate Ward’s ex-husband committed suicide she found herself being nearly kidnapped, injured and then followed by two unknown thugs who are wanting answers to questions that she doesn’t know, she doesn’t understand the questions or why these people would be after her. She flees her home in Lancaster to Wales where she stays in the Aberystwyth Hotel, in the very same area where her ex-husband had spent the last of his days. She hopes that she can try to figure out what is going on and why she is being followed, but those answers aren’t coming as she thought as she finds herself under the gaze of the other hotel guests who see her as an unhinged, paranoid and grieving woman who by all accounts could be suffering from her own mental break down.
No one believes that she is in as much danger as she states, she is fearful and alone with terrifying events that even start clouding her own judgment. She can’t trust no one and yet she can’t seem to find the answers she needs. She eventually finds an ally in the form of an elusive veteran come, crime writer, Adam Hitchman who is in Aberystwyth doing research.
Along with Adam, Kate takes off on a journey to find the truth and discover why her life is in danger and who is behind it, along the way they keep bumping into the mysterious Jim Bristol who keeps turning up along the way. But is he more than he appears to be? As they become embroiled in a dark and dangerous, life or death game of cat and mouse, Kate and Adam become closer until a romance develops between this unlikely couple.
This is written in first person you see the story unfold through Kate’s eyes, you feel her troubles her fears her few joys and this creates a connection to her that you very rarely get in other books. I know a lot of readers don’t like first-person books, but this is a must-read it is a stunningly beautiful book, it really is too good to be true. Ms Gray has done an astounding job at conveying Kate’s circumstances and her fragile frame of mind, her confusion, unease and fear are palpable from that first page. Kate has complexity and honest vulnerability about her that is engaging to the reader, even when there is lightness like when she is reading Jane Eyre in the hotel there is a raw edginess to her that draws you in.
I am known for my love of historic details in stories and this is spot on, the vividness and description of Aberystwyth are incredible. Gray takes hold of your senses and imagination from that first page and keeps hold of you right to the end. There is a real feeling of life and time throughout the book the peace from the end of the war, the relief that it is over as well as the unknown. I like how Gray has added those little touches that bring this book to life, such as bringing to attention that the UK were still on ration books until the mid-fifties. I love that!
The War Widow smoothly takes you on a journey that has more twists and turns than being in a maze, it is beautifully written with a plot that will make your mind boggle and you find yourself stumped for words at what is going on. It’s a roller coaster ride through a dangerous and complicated time, where all is not quite what it seems. I absolutely loved it, it is a page-turning, compelling and intricately crafted perfect piece of thrilling fiction which has a wonderful and understated romance tucked away between the pages.
It is a timeless and thought-provoking story that gripped you from the onset and doesn’t let you go, with characters that are intriguing and strong each one is precise and consistent stories of their own that run throughout to keep you engaged.
This was a complimentary copy via the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The War Widow is available now and can be purchased on Amazon.