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Sapphire Promise: a true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love by @sallybrandle is a BHW pick

Title Sapphire Promise: Based on a true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love

Author Sally Brandle

Genre Historical Romance, Historical Fiction based on a true story

Book Blurb

Loyalty to family. Trusting instincts. The will to survive. These virtues are deeply embedded in a mature Dutch teenager, Annika Wolter. Her attributes prove useful as she navigates typical coming-of-age insecurities and a blossoming romance with a handsome lieutenant in 1939 Batavia, Java.

Nothing prepares her for the distress of Hitler’s attacks on European countries followed by Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, toppling her idyllic life in the Dutch East Indies colonial society and separating her from the man she loves. Uplifting events from a true story showcase how determination, nursing basics, and language skills keep a young woman and her mother alive in the worst Japanese internment camp in the Pacific. If you admire clever women and unfailing love in a tropical wartime setting, you will be captivated by Sapphire Promise.

Here's what readers are saying:

"Annika's story is so amazing, I had to keep reminding myself it is true. She was a woman before her time in her determination and perseverance." Amazon reader "This coming-of-age story occurs during a time of great turbulence. The author takes such care in reminding the reader about what it means to be human, love, care, survive, and heal." Jamie Stern-Member at Large, Director of Research, The Indo Project "Brandle's exhaustive research coupled with her natural storytelling abilities combine to give us a complex, entertaining, and powerful tale." Amazon Reader "I’m excited to share the compelling story of The Sapphire Promise with my book group! The study questions at the end will ensure a lively, thoughtful discussion of this fascinating memoir." Beta reader


Chatter from the birthday guests grew louder and more animated, a sign the liquor and champagne flowed freely—the usual at Mamma and Pappie’s parties. Her parents returned to the dance floor and smiled from love and from their delight at another successful celebration.

At least in their eyes. Annika spread her napkin on her barely touched hors d’oeuvres and set her cocktail plate beside empty glasses on a tray. Eating brought no joy with all her plans kapot. No way she’d turn to see if Emily and Phillip had continued to dance to the second song. Maybe he was what Americans called a cement mixer, someone whose feet appeared cemented to the floor. She hadn’t checked, but if he was, Emily could dodge shoes tonight.

The opening chords of an unfamiliar tune rang out from the musicians on the veranda. She tilted her head. Must be the new song Pappie had requested they learn to play for Mamma’s birthday. Soon enough, she’d be asked to dance by some old codger who took pity on her. Again. A nearby table held a punch bowl and various bottles of wine and liquor. She’d eaten enough to enjoy a flute of sweet Riesling. Mamma couldn’t nix that, at fourteen she’d been allowed one glass of wine per party.

A finger pressed gently into her shoulder. “Please allow me to introduce myself,” requested the deep, smooth, and very recognizable male voice from two days ago.

Phillip had found her! Annika’s heart skipped several beats. He sounded even better this close. “Of course.” She turned and lost herself in the dreamiest chocolate brown eyes on earth.

“I’m Lieutenant Phillip van Hoven, renting a room for a few weeks in this home. At your service and pleased to meet you, Juffrouw?” He’d changed from his military uniform to a white linen jacket and black trousers, fashionable, debonair, and without the restrictions on which dances he could enjoy.

“I’m Annika.” She blinked to bring her brain back to reality. “Juffrouw Annika Wolter, upstairs prisoner until today, due to the mumps.”

“And what a spectacular escape you made to freedom. The jailers didn’t stand a chance.” His eyes flicked to the hem of her short dress, then back to her face. “You danced superbly and interpreted each note with flowing movements. I’d have thought you were on break from the Amsterdam Ballet company.”

The blush began at her chest and rose to her hairline. “Thank you. I appreciate your review.” She fanned her face. “Should we get a cocktail?”

“First, I’d prefer a more casual mode of dance if you’d do me the honor. Bring on a jive, samba, or even a cha-cha.” He winked and she felt her blush darken.

Cement mixer or not, when he held out his arm, she placed her fingers on his sleeve with conviction. “I’m falling in love with someone,” crooned the voice of a band member in Bing Crosby’s mellow style. Annika’s eyes widened at the irony.

From the Author:

This book takes place prior to WWII, when the Dutch East Indies were under colonial rule. My handling of this sensitive subject received the approval of several of the board members of The Indo Project. Here is a quote from one: "The words take you there. Sapphire Promise is truly a gem that will transport you through time, to a place from long ago. The details honor the wonder of the Dutch East Indies -- a place where European structure and grace met the natural beauty and warmth of the Tropics. These vivid details captured the essence of what my dear Oma deeply yearned to return to, but never could. This coming-of-age story occurs during a time of great turbulence. The author takes such care in reminding the reader about what it means to be human, love, care, survive, and heal." Jamie Stern-Member at Large, Director of Research, The Indo Project, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor

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Author Biography

Multiple-award winning author Sally Brandle weaves slow-burning romance into edgy suspense, motivating readers to trust their instincts. Growing up as a tomboy alongside helpful brothers prepared her to work in a male-centric industry and raise respectful sons. She takes pride in creating action-packed stories featuring strong women who find men deserving of their love. Her unintentional heroines conquer their vulnerabilities and partner with heroes to outwit cunning villains. Penning Sapphire Promise, the enhanced memoir of her friend, Iris, presented a challenge to stay true to her life while portraying the colonial aspect of 1938 Batavia, Java, in a sensitive manner. Research and consultations with a variety of experts proved invaluable. Sally’s rescued Tuxedo cat, Shepherd dog, and Blue Heeler are her companions during long spells of writing or bouts of tormenting weeds in her garden. Afternoons she often spends riding on the wind with her thirty-one years young Quarter Horse.

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