The blurb on this book touted it as “perfect for fans of Mary Balogh” with the “deeply emotional tale of two devoted lovers facing the ravages of war.” Of course, there was no way I could resist a sell like that. And I have to say, the book delivers on its promise.
As the story begins, Grace is still mourning the loss of her husband. Michael has been presumed dead for nearly a year, ever since an intense battle in the Crimean War. The world thinks she should be ready to move on, but Grace loved Michael deeply and she isn’t ready to let him go. That turns out to be a good thing when he turns up alive on her front porch.
Grace is elated to have the love of her life return, but she learns quickly that he is not the man he once was. Michael suffered brain damage during the war and it affects him in many different ways. He has debilitating headaches; he has trouble reading and writing; his short term memory is terrible; and he is quick to anger. He is unlike the Michael of her memories, and yet, he is the man she is in love with, the man she mourned. Despite any of the obstacles, Grace is determined not to take their second chance for granted. This, as Michael questions whether she would have been better off without him.
I read a fair number of books with tortured heroes (since I tend to seek them out.) This one is a little different, though, in that the love of a good woman just isn’t enough to make everything ok. So often in these books, the happiness found in the heroine’s arms overshadows all the ugliness in the hero’s life. But this book doesn’t take that approach. It takes a hard look at whether love can be enough to hold these two together, even without the hope that everything else –or anything else— can be fixed. It can be hard to read at times. Michael has a very difficult road and he often makes it worse by pushing Grace away. But I like this dark realism. Yes, I like my fantasy sometimes that love conquers all, but does it really?
Both Grace and Michael are well drawn and sympathetic characters. Through their present day actions, intermingled with flashbacks, the author paints a very solid picture of real love between them. It’s lovely at times, but at other times heartbreaking or sexy, hopeless or hopeful. I won’t spoil the ending, but I appreciate that it strays a bit from the norm while still leaving me satisfied.
I would recommend.
*ARC Provided by Loveswept
Click to purchase: Amazon
His Saving Grace
by Sharon Cullen
Release Date: December 23, 2014