Live The Dream by Claire Lorrimer

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A young couple are forced to part at the onset of war … but dream of being reunited one day.

August, 1939. When it becomes clear that war is about to break out with Germany, twin sisters Dilys and Una Singleby are forced to leave their studies in Munich and return home to England. Heartbroken at being parted, Dilys and her Norwegian student boyfriend, Kristoffer, vow to be reunited as soon as it’s possible.

However, as the months pass, a series of misunderstandings and misguided actions keep the lovers apart. When she discovers she’s pregnant, Dilys, unable to contact Kristoffer, is driven to desperate measures to ensure that she can keep her baby and avoid bringing disgrace to her family. Kristoffer meanwhile joins the Resistance and faces dangerous times ahead. It seems as though the pair are destined never to meet again … can true love find a way?

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Publisher and Release Date: Severn House, October 2016

Time and Setting: WWII England 1939
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1/2
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars

Review by Wendy

I was drawn to the synopsis of this story as I’m rather partial to a war time romance featuring star crossed lovers. And in Live The Dream the author certainly touches on almost every conceivable scenario of what could ‘cross the lovers’. In fact, I felt as though she tried to pack way too much into what is a fairly small word count.

Identical twin sisters Una and Dilys Singleby are seventeen as Hitler begins his march of tyranny across Europe. They have been having the time of their lives in Munich, supposedly studying, but mostly partying. When their father sends them a second telegram instructing them to return home immediately, they ignore it as they did the previous one. Putting his panic down to the fact that he is an MP and therefore likely to overreact, the girls just carry on with their lives, refusing to believe that the charming German boys with whom they are friends would ever turn against them. When their father suddenly arrives from England and demands that they pack for home immediately, Dilys is distraught as she is given no opportunity to say goodbye to her boyfriend, Norwegian student, Kristoffer Holberg. They have made a commitment to each other and become lovers and neither has considered the possible ramifications of their actions. After being torn apart the couple is desperate to re-unite, but firstly Dilys’ father and then Kristoffer’s, scuppers any likelihood of a reunion. By the time four months have passed, the innocent Dilys, and her slightly more worldly-wise, sister, Una, have put two and two together and realised that Dilys is pregnant; by mutual agreement they keep the secret for another three months.

In the meantime the girls have begun working as receptionists for the local vet, widower, James Sherwin. James is quick to notice Dilys’ pregnancy and offers her marriage as a way out of her predicament. In all of this time their mother has not realised that Dilys is pregnant, even though she is wearing a smock and is approximately seven months gone by this time. I know that the parents were each busy with their war work – but really..?

The most compelling part of this story is the well researched and thorough historical content told in great detail and with a confident knowledge, and I enjoyed that very much. We travel through the various stages of the Third Reich’s invasion and occupation of each European country and eventually Britain’s reluctant but necessary participation. In particular I found the details about Norway’s occupation and the work of its Resistance movement fascinating and we see Kristoffer’s, involvement as a partisan in an intricate plot. I’m assuming this plot to be historically correct – but in any case I found it engaging and it held my attention. Ms. Lorrimer does an excellent job in showing war as it really was in all of its stark reality. However, her character development leaves a lot to be desired, because it’s flat and one dimensional. I didn’t feel Dilys’ despair when she was on the brink of having her baby taken away for adoption, nor her appreciation for James’ enormously generous and selfless actions in saving her; even though she said she was grateful – I didn’t feel it. Another thing that really annoyed me was, that from the time of James’ introduction I lost count of how many times the twin sisters referred to him as “old”. I was astonished to learn eventually that he was only thirty four – sixteen years older than Dilys. I was fully expecting to be told he was at least fifty. I did not feel the love between Dilys and Kristoffer either, even though we are constantly told how much they love each other. Finally, the ending is farcical, implausible and comes over as contrived; it feels as though it’s just been added as an afterthought so as to give the story a dramatic ending. I admit that I would have been tempted to abandon this book because the romance is unremarkable and the numerous coincidences stretch implausibility to the limit. As it stands, the excellent and well told WWII historical content made the book worth reading, but it’s not something I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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