Rose has been struggling along since the deaths of her brother and fiancé Sam in World War I: her parents both have retreated into their individual grief, with her father becoming more introverted and rigid, her mother hoarding and effectively abandoning her tasks, and both ignoring Rose unless or until she isn’t meeting their expectations. She’s taken sole responsibility for the bakery her brother started before the war, creating cakes used to be something she and her mother worked on, but now, with all of the hopelessness around her and feeling more than a little trapped and without options, there’s been little for her to smile about or look forward to with any real sense of joy. Enter Nick, on leave from his extended enlistment and now working in Germany during the reconstruction. He’s come looking for Rose at her little tea shop at the behest of Sam, who he served with and befriended during the war. Now with his promise to Sam ringing in his ears, and a much-viewed photo of Rose protected within the pages of a letter that contained a Christmas poem, he’s here to fulfill the promise – give Rose a Christmas she’s always dreamed of. Everything he thought of Rose is true – quiet, shy and lovely, he just wants to see her smile and see if his dreams of her, outrageous dreams in which he is drawn to this girl are possible. But, he’s got to mention that he knows Sam, and the poem, but not quite yet. Cornwall uses Nick’s determination to get to know Rose, even with the deception (or omission) about Sam that preys on his thoughts. From sharing a piece of cake with her, to bringing her a tree and ornaments, taking her to a nativity performance in the recently completed cathedral in the city and even introducing her to her first ever ride in a car, there’s much that Nick is doing to make Rose smile, and several things that will surely cause upset. From his newly inherited title and lands, to the secret of Sam, his awareness of Rose and the fact that he can’t help himself falling in love – the roads here aren’t easy, or particularly smooth, but feel very plausible, possible and are lovely to explore. A bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride, particularly with Rose and the gamut of emotions she experiences, with Nick’s self-doubts and his own mother’s determination to see him happy and settled, the story is hard to put down and harder to forget. A lovely story full of the era and heart, with plenty of drama to go around as these two find their way through the difficulties and on toward their own newfound hopes and dreams. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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This romance, set just after the end of the first war, portrays the horror of war, the camaraderie between men and the women left at home in an easy but true manner for such tough subjects. Relationships between lover, friend, parent and child are brought out in the book. The romance between Nicky and Rose highlights the importance of honesty as lies nearly ended their story before it started. There are enough twists and turns to keep you interested and reading to the end. It is only at the end the sun fully shines on their love.
Set shortly after WW1. She is forced to run the family cafe due to losses in the war. He is fulfilling a promise to his army buddy. Can the future hold anything for these two people who have already suffered loss and struggles. Beautiful and moving story, highly recommended!