Having read and enjoyed the first in the War Torn series by Jan Lloyd – an excellent book, I should add – I was looking forward to this, the second, and had high hopes. It did feel, and forgive the cliché, a little like revisiting old acquaintances to see how they’re getting on. This offering wasn’t quite up there with its predecessor, but matching it would have been no mean feat. To be honest, this one didn’t have the same exciting, dramatic story arc; which is not surprising, as now we join the characters when World War Two is drawing to its conclusion. Without the buccaneering U-boat action, the threat of the Gestapo and the horrors of Auschwitz, quite frankly the sequel was never going to compete.
Still present are Jan’s top quality polished writing and her knowledge of the subject matter, but it is fair to say that the storyline is a little more sedate in this one, as Frances leads a remarkably less eventful life than the nightmare she endured first time around; now she is firmly ensconced in the German countryside, coming to terms with her ordeal and having to cope with her feelings of hate and trust in respect of the company she is in. All in all, I would say this offering fits more the model of a cosy romance, amongst turbulent emotions and windswept scenic locations. I don’t have an issue with that, and it may even be a natural progression to the series, though I will say that I didn’t really share the pain of lovesickness that Frances was going through, and the two main characters didn’t tug at heart strings, so much as wind me up a little bit, for the simple reason that Kristian is actually just a real dick in this book, in contrast to the first, when he was dark and brooding. He doesn’t come across as tough and nonchalant this time around, but rather more as a petulant child who has just grown into a sulking brat of an adult. And it tugs at the nerves a little to witness the devotion Frances has for him. I don’t know if it was the author’s intention, but he has gone from a likeable character to a dislikeable one, whereas Frances continues to be worthy of the enormous respect she gained earlier in the series. It is perhaps a touch longer than it needs to be, with this on-off romance storyline, and you never really feel that the couple are that well suited, so in honesty I couldn’t really find myself rooting for them.
All this said, it is a decent read and a decent series, and again, it is lovely to revisit old characters. The palette is attractive and appealing, the locations vivid and broad. It feels like looking at a sweeping landscape painting; Lloyd does visual exceptionally well. I don’t normally cry out for a sequel, but I have to say I would like to see another offering, just to complete the arc for Frances and Kristian – because, if I’m being frank, I just can’t see their future being the note this book ended on.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: jan-lloyd war drama romance epic world-war-two