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Honoring those who have served their country in war, most focus on those who have fought on the battlefields. But one group’s heroics under fire have slipped through the pages of history, a group whose blood and sweat were left in operating rooms and hospital tents, a group whose heroism has seldom been measured.

For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.

Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.

But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?

Publisher and Release Date: Wild Rose Press, September 2013
RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: France, World War One
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Francine Howarth

Set within the period of the The Great War (WWI), Gwen Spencer – a trainee American nurse – has more than her share of heartache and strife to contend with. And whilst trying to honour family commitments and keep her chosen career on track, life suddenly becomes fraught when a family matter tears Gwen and her young sister (Susannah) apart. Nevertheless, life goes on, war is rampant in Europe, and the boy next door (Lex) has long since left for war torn France.

While news of tragic deaths and dreadful maiming within the trenches of France and Belgium reach home shores, Gwen ponders no word from Lex. Meanwhile, the camaraderie and friendship of her fellow nurses sustain her sense of purpose, but all the while she and others wish there was something they could do to help their own American injured soldiers. Subsequently, an unexpected opportunity arises to become Army Nurses, of which Gwen and her friends volunteer for and are soon shipped out of the States and heading to war.

En route, tragedy befalls one of their own and thus affords insight to the horrors awaiting them all in France: horrors they will have to face and deal with in a professional manner and no questions asked, and all regardless of whether a soldier is friend or foe. Such is Gwen’s luck, a soldier in German uniform and rambling in the German tongue soon poses a problem she never anticipated, and he’s not quite what he seems. Neither is the sharp-tongued senior medic, but as Gwen matures and braves her way through every obstacle that faces her, she not only finds love in the arms of an English Army Captain, she discovers a new vocation. But when Armistice dawns, can she forsake love to fulfil a second dream and then not live to regret having let true love slip from her grasp? The ending of this novel is touchingly romantic.

Heroic Measures is a delightful WWI saga romance (book 1 of a trilogy). It’s not an entirely unique story, given that it is akin to a rather popular English novel The Silver Locket by Margaret James (published a few years back). Nonetheless, Ms Power has presented a warm, likeable and admirable American heroine (Nurse Gwen) and a loveable English hero (Captain Adam Fairleigh). Many aspects of Heroic Measures were so similar to Ms James’ novel that I did at times feel I had already trodden where Gwen was treading. Sadly for readers, such happens when authors of like mind dream up similar plots. It will be interesting to see where book 2 takes Gwen along her newly chosen career path.


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