Love at War

Viola Russell
Love at War
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Publisher
Red Rose Publishing
Release Date
June 2011
ISBN
9781454300632
Genre
Historical Novel with Romantic Elements

SUMMARY
On the beach in the summer of 1941, eighteen-year-old Nuala Comeaux reconnects with Keith Roussel, a friend of her brothers'. The attraction between them is electric, but the threat of war looms for Nuala, Keith, and her family. Nuala and Keith marry when Nuala learns she is pregnant. Nuala gives birth to their daughter when Keith deploys. When Keith is killed in action, Nuala joins the WAAC and then OSS.

While working under cover, Nuala discovers the truth surrounding her husband's disappearance and the treachery leading to his capture and ultimate death. With the help of her brothers and a gorgeous Japanese operative, Nuala vows to take down the AXIS powers and avenge her husband even if she must seek revenge while lying in the arms of the enemy. Not all of them will survive. All will be irrevocably changed.

Who is the enemy and who survives?

Book Review by Rho (reviewer)
Mar 08, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
161 people found the following review helpful
LOVE AT WAR is outstanding historical fiction. There is no way when reading that you can not be instantly transported around the globe in a time where fighting, treachery, and loss was everywhere you look nor could you not be rooting for a love to endure through it all.

In the summer of 1941, Nuala Comeuax met up with Keith Roussel again after he'd been gone for a few years. The two fell in love and planned for a future together. Their actual future changed from what they dreamed, however, when World War II broke out. Keith enlists in the army and is shipped off shortly after their marriage. Unfortunately, news of his death in action devastates Nuala, who is now a new mother.

Set on exacting revenge for her husband's death, Nuala joins the army and later becomes an undercover operative for the military. While undercover, Nuala learns the true circumstances of her husband's death, which only fuels her thirst for vengance even further.

In the name of love, Nuala does things she never thought she'd do. But it's not certain if that love will survive.

Woah, this book was not at all what I had expected. I must say that this subject matter is much heavier and deeper than most historical romances. Deeply rooted in the actual history of World War II, I felt like this was more of a work of historical fiction with romantic elements since the romance was not the main subject matter. But, I have to say, although it was not what I had envisioned I'd be reading, LOVE AT WAR was fantastic.

The world building in this book was no less than phenomenal. With the vivid descriptions and the true historical facts interwoven with the author's vision, I was immersed in a world that had me traveling from New Orleans to Pearl Harbor, from England to Nazi occupied France and Germany. I could just see all of these places as if I was truly there.

Although this was not a standard romance, the love story between Nuala and Keith was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Nuala was the strongest heroine I've read about in any fictional work. Also, the love between her and Keith is the stuff of legends. They walked through hell together and separately, and with the strength of their love and devotion for each other, they made it out whole. I was made to care so deeply for these two that it was as though I was going through their experiences with them, suffering alongside them, experiencing their victories as well.

The supporting cast was superb as well. Traitors, patriots, clergymen and the like took part in making this story very believable and were all integral to the plot. Nuala's family went through trials that most of us can't even imagine, but they were all so real, I felt as if I really knew them.

It all came together to make LOVE AT WAR an absolutely memorable read. I know it's not the kind of book you're used to me reviewing, and believe me, my reaction to this book surprised me as much as anyone else. But, great writing is great writing, and Viola Russell has penned an excellent novel. And although it's a big departure for me, I feel deeply affected by this story and know it will stay with me for a long time to come.
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BOOK INTERVIEW on March 2012
Interview by Rho

Ms. Russell that you so much for taking the time to speak with us and answer some questions about your amazing novel, LOVE AT WAR.


Q: LOVE AT WAR has such a unique premise. How did you come up with the idea?

I wrote LOVE AT WAR after my mother died. All of my uncles served in WWII, and I found letters her brothers wrote home. Her brother Russell was the most constant correspondent, and one letter to my grandparents made me cry: "We have everything packed and are ready to leave tomorrow. About noon time we will pull out like real soldiers tomorrow. Please don't worry about me, Ma. . . Just pray for me, which I know you will. . ."

I found the letter packed away in a box that held newspaper clippings of an explosion in Bremen after the war had officially ended. That explosion killed Russell. He never returned to his wife and infant daughter. He never saw his parents or his siblings again. Then, his daughter Sandy let me read letters Russell and her mother wrote to each other during his deployment. Their letters were passionate, filled with longing and desire. As I read the letters and looked through old pictures, I realized how much WWII defined my mother, our family, and ultimately, the current world order. The story isn't about specific events that happened to my family, but all of my uncles served. What I had to do was incorporate my own family lore into a novel packed with historical fact.

Q: I'm sorry your uncle never made it home, but he's a hero. It's stories like this that make us treasure our freedom all the more, because it's bought with a price. Being set in such a famously historical time, LOVE AT WAR has such an authentic feel to it. What kind of research went into writing the book?

I knew about WWII largely through family lore and history classes, but I wanted to learn about the war from the point of view of the soldiers who lived it. To that end, I did extensive research that I listed in my bibliography. What also intrigued me was the role women played in the conflict. I'd always known that women took over the jobs men had traditionally performed during the war, but I also learned that WWII was the first time women had fully military rank. They also were influential behind the scenes as interpreters and as covert operatives.

My protagonist, Nuala, was in a perfect position to be a covert operative, as was her brother George. They knew German because of their mother and French through their paternal grandmother. I researched endlessly, and two works were very important when I studied the role of women: OUR MOTHERS' WAR and AMERICAN WOMEN IN A WORLD OF WAR.

Q: LOVE AT WAR isn't your typical historical romance. What was your motivation in bringing so much of the war itself into the story?

I never wanted LOVE AT WAR to be only a love story. Yes, I wanted to show the great love between Nuala and Keith, but I also wanted to tell the story of people who had experienced horror, fought bravely, and faced their demons. The love story was important because many soldiers are separated from their families during war. They leave not knowing if they will return, but they cling to that love. At one point in the novel, Keith tells Nuala her love kept him alive. Equally important, however, was conveying the hardships these men and women faced as combatants. The war itself is a character, and as I researched, I realized I wanted my characters in the major conflicts that defined the war. To that end, I placed Nuala, Keith, and her brothers at strategic points in history.

Q: What type of special military research did you have to do in order to get all of the details for the all the different types of soldiers--American, British, German and Japanese--that we meet in LOVE AT WAR?

I researched books and the internet. I went on sites that showed WWII uniforms. I wanted to be sure what a German officer would look like, a Brit, and an American. I also wanted accuracy on weapons and other details. For example, an American sniper, like Keith, would use a different weapon than his German counterpart. I'm also very fortunate to live in New Orleans, the home of the National WWII Museum. I visited the museum so much that I feared the workers would think I was a stalker. (Just kidding!)

Q: Please tell us more about Nuala, and what made her into the woman that she is.

Nuala is in many ways a typical New Orleans girl of her era. She hails from a respectable working-class family. They are poor but very proud and work hard. Her parents expect their sons to be responsible and their daughters virtuous. This was my mother's world, and when my cousins read the book, many said that I had successfully recreated the feel of my grandparents' house. They recognized the scene at the dinner table on Sunday as being like my grandmother's Sunday dinners. What I had to do was take Nuala from this sheltered world and turn her into a determined covert operative. Her intense love for Keith does that. In many ways, his love (and loss) is the vehicle that molds her into a determined, even occasionally ruthless, woman. The war showed many women that they were strong.

Q: What motivates her that she would seek revenge for her husband even if in the enemy's arms?

Nuala's love for Keith gives her life focus. When he dies (or she believes he dies), a part of Nuala hardens. A virtual shell forms around her heart. She also has had to face the possible loss of her brother George at Bataan. She is pushed to the brink. Her future with her husband and child had been destroyed, and she wants someone to pay.

Q: I think my favorite moment in the whole book was when Nuala's husband, Keith, first saw the picture of Nuala and their daughter, Sandy, that she sent him overseas. Such a poignant moment--a man meeting seeing his daughter for the first time ever that way. Please share with us your favorite scene in LOVE AT WAR. Why is it your favorite?

Asking me to pick a favorite scene is like asking me to choose a favorite child. Several of the scenes are special for various reasons. The opening scene between Nuala and her sister and the tender scene between Nuala and her mother after learning she is pregnant were very special. The banter between the sisters was like that between my mother and her sister, and the conversation between the mother and daughter reminded me of moments with my own mother. She encouraged me as Magda did Nuala. Several of the war scenes made me shiver as I wrote, particularly Bataan, and Nuala's vengeance on Blenk was very difficult. Nuala has to seek vengeance on the man who took down Keith, but I also had to make her sympathetic.

Q: Which character was the hardest to write? Why?

Several characters evolved in ways I hadn't planned. Nuala's brother George begins as a good-humored smart guy, but he grows into a determined and fierce warrior. I also didn't want Chiye Toguri to be a stereotype, and I had to be careful as their relationship developed. I hoped to show two basically good people in a terrible situation who are falling in love despite their own misgivings, bitterness, and prejudices. Johann Blenk also was hard to write. He's a villain, but again, I didn't want him to be some cartoon villain, so I incorporated the story of his wife and child into the plot.

Q: Please share with us any experience or fact that you unearthed while writing LOVE AT WAR that didn't make it into the book but that you still thought was interesting.

I learned a great deal about the role of African-American soldiers in the war, and I toyed with creating an African-American female character who was a friend of Nuala's in the service and who passed for white to avoid discrimination, but I couldn't fit it into the plot. It impressed me that people who had suffered discrimination still proudly fought for their country.

Q: In the dedication of the book, you mentioned your own family and their sacrifices that they made for their country. How did their history shape your desire to write LOVE AT WAR?

Family history is inseparable from this storyline. As I wrote, I realized that the character of George was very much like my Uncle Willie, good-natured but reckless and wild. Like George, he emerged from the war somewhat damaged, but George had a much more dangerous military experience. As a kid, I was always fascinated by my Uncle Charlie's anchor tattoo, a remnant of his naval service.

Q: If you could travel back in time, where and when would you most like to go? Why is that?

I would love to travel into many different spheres, but I would like to have lived during the war for Irish Independence. I also would have been Nuala during the war. I admire anyone who possesses true convictions.

Q: What's coming up next for you? Please share with us any upcoming projects we should be on the look out for.

Red Rose Publishing has signed two of my manuscripts. PIRATE WOMAN is the story of Grace O'Malley, the Irish woman pirate who lived in the 1500s. THE DOCTOR AND THE WAR WIDOW is a contemporary romance.


Thank you, Ms Russell, for such great answers! I loved getting more insight into everything that went into making LOVE AT WAR.

Bio:


By day, Viola Russell is a teacher in the New Orleans area. At night, she is a writer, happiest at her computer with her dog at her feet. She'd wanted to keep her writing and teaching lives separate, but the kids, ever tech savvy, outed her.

Website: http://www.violarussell.com
Blog: http://www.violarussell.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/violrussell
Twitter: https://twitter/#!/violrussell


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