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400 pages, ebook
First published June 27, 2017
I met my husband in the least romantic setting possible: a casualty clearing station in northern France in the middle of February. A cold drizzle fell and the air stank of human rot. I suppose this constituted a warning from Providence, though Providence needn’t have bothered. I had always known better than to fall in love. I had always known love was something you would later regret.Miss Virginia Fortescue is a good and decent person. In 1917, a twenty-year-old with a knowledge of cars, thanks to her father, she volunteered in WW I as an ambulance driver on the front lines in France. In this world of darkness she also found a bit of light, in the person of a dazzlingly charming English doctor, Captain Simon Fitzwilliam. Sparks fly. Of course there are obstacles to be overcome. What about Virginia’s presumed immunity to such blandishments? What about his reputation as a womanizer? What about reports of his having a wife and child back in England? We know very early in the story, from encountering the quote cited above, that barriers will be crossed. We can also expect that trenches will be dug, ordnance will be employed, and opposition will be fierce.
Cocoa Beach, Florida, June 1922Virginia got news a short time before that Simon had died in that fire. She left New York with her two-year-old, Hazel, to see for herself what the situation was with the family holdings down there, and try to find out what Simon had been up to during his time in The Sunshine State. She is soon joined by Simon’s ne’er do well brother, Sam, and their sister Clara.
Someone has cleared the ruins away, but you can still see that a house burned to the ground here, not long ago. The earth is black and charred and the air smells faintly of soot.