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Christmas Hope by @CaroWarfield is a Canada/America event pick #historicalromance #CanadaDay #win
Title: Christmas Hope
Author: Caroline Warfield
Genre: Historical Romance
When the Great War is over, will their love be enough? After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry ran out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him. Through three more long years of war and its aftermath, the hope she brings keeps Harry alive. Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier, but Harry’s devotion lifts her up. The war demands all her strength and resilience, will the hope of peace and the promise of Harry’s love keep her going?
Rosemarie rolled out dough for baking on December twenty-third, grateful she had a son to give her reason to go on each day. Of Harry she had heard nothing since the letter about Sullivan with its seductive promise of a visit.
No, not a promise. He merely dangled hope, hope that dwindles every day. The thought dampened her Christmas joy.
She covered the dough with sugar and pieces of fruit—sparse enough, but far more than she had the year before. Between what she could hold back from selling and what she could stretch from her pay, Christmas baking had become possible again. Marcel, making pictures on scraps of paper at her scarred kitchen table, hummed with contentment.
Be grateful for what you’ve been given, Rosemarie. Don’t long for what you cannot have.
A sound so faint she almost missed it came from the door. She twisted her head in the window to see the canal in front of her island. A boat pushed way, poling toward the city.
“Someone at the door, Maman?” Marcel asked, looking up from his drawing.
She wiped her hands on her apron and pulled the old wooden door open. The caller, dirty and travel-worn, must have been leaning on it because he dropped forward when she opened it.
“Harry!” She sank to her knees in front of him, and he lay his head down on her shoulder.
“Sorry. I just— I couldn’t—”
She put her arm around his shoulders and cupped the back of his head. “We haven’t heard from you since you told us about Sullivan’s birthday,” she said with a smile she hoped would cheer him.
It had the opposite effect. His body began to shake. “Oh God, Sullivan!” She realized then that he wept, deep heart-rending sobs dragged from inside; he clung to her as a drowning man who would reach for any piece of flotsam that might save him, and cried.
She held him in the doorway for long minutes, but when the cold wind from the water threatened the fragile warmth of the little cottage, she pulled him forward into the kitchen. He went meekly, too wretched to object or even notice, clinging to her as she moved him.
“Marcel, the door,” she directed, and the boy ran to shut it behind them.
“‘arry?” he asked. “Is he sick?”
“Sick at heart I think, and very tired.” She waited until the worst of the sobs subsided with Marcel leaning on her side staring wide-eyed at his idol.
She wondered when he had eaten last but suspected exhaustion—physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion—was the most pressing problem. “Harry, can you hear me? When did you sleep last?”
He made a movement that may have been a shrug. A moment later he choked out an answer with a note of bitter laughter in his voice. “Sleep? I don’t recall.”
“Come with me.” She pulled him to his feet, and he staggered against her to the stairway. “We can talk when you’ve rested.” She pushed him ahead of her on the narrow stairs.
“Rested, good,” he mumbled, holding himself erect with one hand on each wall while he lurched from side to side up the narrow stairs.
They reached the low-ceilinged room, and he had to duck, leaning on her as she tried to maneuver his big frame. “Let’s get you into my bed and then—”
“Your bed…yes.” He fell backward onto it, pulling her down with him, and began to kiss her face, the tears on his cheeks leaving hers wet, but his actions quickly slowed, and his eyes drifted shut. When Rosemarie wiggled out of his arms, the sleeping man didn’t stir. She stood, arms akimbo, taking inventory of dirt and damage. Bloodstains on his shirt had her ripping the garment open.
Not his. No visible wounds, thank the good Lord.
She removed his boots and swung his legs around onto the bed. Even when she removed his trousers, he didn’t stir. The grimy shirt proved more problematic, and at one point he murmured her name as if to ask question, but he sank back onto the pillow, deep into sleep.
Harry woke with a stab of fear. He reared up, groping for his rifle, afraid he had fallen asleep on duty.
He sank back into the bed as awareness flooded in. No enemy lurked. He reposed in soft covers in an unfamiliar room, his clothes had gone missing, and he wasn’t alone. A small boy watched him steadily from the doorway. Memory flooded back—fleeing from Lens, frantic to get to Rosemarie. He hadn’t deserted; he’d gotten leave or rather had it thrust on him with orders from Captain Mitchell to come back whole. He remembered a frantic journey, reaching her cottage, falling against the door, and not much else.
“You are dirty,” the boy said, approaching the bed. Harry ran a hand across the stubble on his face. It came away filthy.
“Apparently so. And you are tall, much too tall to be Marcel.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VXXRXTR/
Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-hope-caroline-warfield/1132806653
Apple Books - https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1475366401
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55609079-christmas-hope
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/christmas-hope-by-caroline-warfield-and-caroline-warfield
What makes your featured book a must-read?
More than romance, this is an epic tale of love in times of war, and the hope that keeps a man alive.
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Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.
She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.
What Caroline likes best about being a Bluestocking Belle is the generosity and support of her fellow Belles. Together they are a formidable force!
Social Media Links:
Website – https://www.carolinewarfield.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/carolinewarfield7
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CaroWarfield
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Caroline-Warfield/e/B00N9PZZZS/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8523742.Caroline_Warfield
BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/caroline-warfield
Newsletter – https://www.carolinewarfield.com/newsletter/