High As The Heavens (Kate Breslin) – Review

4-5 stars

~ About the Book ~

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

Release date:  6 June 2017
Pages:  400
Publisher:  Bethany House

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  iBooks  //  Goodreads  //  Koorong

~ Excerpt ~

She had just started to pedal along rue des Sols when the whine of an engine overhead drew her attention. Eve stopped to study the inky sky, and the noise intensified as the plane flew low over the city.
The sound differed from the one she’d heard earlier in the afternoon. Was this the plane bringing the agent to Groenendael?
Her body jerked as an ear-shattering explosion lit the sky; a second blast followed, then a third as the anti-aircraft guns at la Grand-Place found their target.
The deafening scream of the plane’s engine pierced her ears as it burst into a bright fireball above her. She watched in horror as the plane spiraled downward, crashing in Brussels Park a few hundred meters away.
The ground shook, and her racing heart thundered in her chest.
Dom ran out of the café, shouting in French, and German whistles could be heard blaring from la Grand-Place.
“Dom, get an ambulance!” she cried, before pedaling her bicycle toward the inferno.
Eve soon entered the park and took a running leap off her bicycle as she raced toward the burning wreckage. Time seemed to stop while she took in the scene: A man lay beside one of the plane’s wings, half of his body on fire. Another man was stretched out prone near the edge of the burning engine. He was dressed in plain clothes, not a uniform, and had a parachute pack slung over one shoulder. Could he be the agent she was to meet?
She rushed to extinguish the first man and saw that he was already dead, his face burned beyond recognition. His smoldering uniform was that of a British pilot.
Taking no time to consider her actions, she removed the pair of ID discs from around his charred neck, wincing at the hot metal against her fingertips as she slipped them inside her coat pocket.
If the second man was indeed the agent, he might need to “borrow” the identification. She ran to him and grabbed his feet, dragging him clear of the flames. An agent would be a fool to wear his ID discs on assignment—nevertheless, she had to make certain. Crouching beside his body, she began tugging at the back of his collar.
A hand reached up to grab her wrist in a painful grip.
He was alive! “Let me help you,” she hissed in English, and he loosened his grip. Eve slid the pack off his shoulder and tossed it into the flames. Then she gently rolled him onto his back—
Her breath caught, and she rocked on her heels as the earth shifted beneath her. It couldn’t be . . .
Yet in the fire’s light his reddish-blond hair was recognizable, and despite the blood covering his face, she could make out the high cheekbones and patrician nose, the generous mouth . . .
She wet her lips, her senses reeling. Was he flesh . . . or spirit?
Her finger reached to gently touch the achingly familiar cleft in his chin, and he jerked at the contact before his attention focused on her.
She met his gaze, drowning in the remarkable gray pools that had sometimes been dark like rain clouds, and at other times light as the North Sea. His warm hand covered hers, this time in a caress, while tears leaked from his eyes, making tracks along either side of his bloodied face.
Her throat worked as she clasped his fingers. He was real—not a ghost at all, but flesh and bone, resurrected from her past. The man she thought she’d lost forever.

~ Review ~

What a riveting story of World War I espionage! It took me a couple of chapters to really get into it, but once I did I was holding my breath to see how things would resolve for Eve, her family, and Captain Simon Forrester. What makes the story even more fascinating is knowing that it was inspired in part by real-life accounts from women who were spies during World War I. Now that’s my kind of story!

The first third or so of the novel alternates between the ‘present day’ events (1917) and filling in key parts of Eve’s history with Simon and the events of the German assault on Louvain. Whilst learning this background was important, it did slow down the development of the story and gave it a slightly disjointed feel early on. However, once these extended ‘flashbacks’ finished and we stayed with the present I really settled into the story.

In the present day, Eve has a number of competing objectives: find her younger brother and sister, who disappeared during the German assault on Louvain three years ago; break Simon out of hospital before he is transferred to a German POW hospital and hide him for the duration of his recovery; continue to pass on German intelligence to the British through La Dame Blanche; continue to make hospital administrator, Major Otto Reinhardt, believe she is passing on legitimate Allied intelligence to him; complete the assignment Simon was supposed to carry out and smuggle Simon over the border to Holland; and find out who the traitor is within the resistance network. As you can see, she has her work cut out for her!

Complicating all of this is her relationship with Captain Forrester. Much has happened in the three years since they last saw one another, and neither of them are the same person now that they were then. Eve, in particular, carries a burden of guilt that she believes will come between them, and she refrains from telling him all that is going on her life currently because she knows he will not be willing to leave her, and may even try to prevent her in order to protect her. But this leaves Simon unsure of where her loyalties lie, or why she seems to be holding herself at a distance. And he, too, suspects there is a traitor within the resistance movement…

The tension builds throughout the novel to a gripping conclusion. Definitely recommended for lovers of historical fiction!

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ Other Books by Kate Breslin ~

~ About the Author ~

Kate BreslinFormer bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing’s 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her debut novel, For Such A Time, was shortlisted for both the Christy and RITA awards and received the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 Carol Award for Debut Novel.

When she’s not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington’s beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas.

Connect with Kate:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Pinterest

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, New Releases, Romance and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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