PUBLISHER AND RELEASE DATE: Bell Bridge Books (June 21, 2012)
An unforgettable romance in an unforgiving time.They’ll need love and courage to see the dawn.He’s a hometown native, returning from the war, determined to change the world he’d fought to protect. She’s the girl who’s been his secret friend since childhood, now a beautiful woman. Her war-time letters kept him alive. But he’s black, and she’s white.In 1946 in Gideon, Texas, their undeniable love might get them both killed.
Romantic historical fiction
Heat level 2
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars
REVIEW by Jill
Angel Corey learnt all she knew of racial tolerance and Christian love at her father’s knee. Her beloved father Parker had returned from the First World War with an unswerving trust in God. Growing up in the first half of the twentieth century on the outskirts of Gideon, Texas in racially divided America, his store served the nearby black community. As one of the few whites in the African-American neighbourhood, Angel’s best friend was Isaiah High. For Isaiah being black meant that, despite the childhood friendship that turned to teenage first-love, nothing could ever come of his growing attraction to fair-skinned Angel. When her father sees Isaiah’s love for Angel, and knowing the danger it holds for both of them, Parker talks Isaiah into going away to fight in the war.
This story is at times heart-rending in its realism. It’s hard to imagine an interracial couple could be ostracised, hunted out of town, beaten and possibly killed. That fathers on both sides, black and white, would warn their children sternly against and prohibit (for their own safety and well-being) such a relationship during those times. The bulk of the story is set during the 1940s in the small town of Gideon, Texas and through letters during the war years from Isaiah in Europe. The letters between Isaiah and Angel provide plenty of detail of the war in Europe and about black Americans in the war. The first and the last chapters are set in contemporary 2005 with the meat of the story told in flashback.
With the emphasis on Isaiah and Angel’s developing love, this beautiful story resonates with sexual tension so often lacking in romance stories. The romance builds slowly. This is a true, old-style romance where the focus is on the relationship, and its repercussions given the time and setting. The love scenes are few and not particularly graphic. As a reader, if you’re used to quick resolutions and early sex scenes, you’re going to have to be patient. The narrative and dialogue though filled with references to faith are inspiring rather than preachy, and suited to the times where faith and religion were widely-held community values.
Ms Samuel has written a novel similar in style to earlier Dorothy Garlock and LaVyrle Spencer stories. World War II romances are few and far between. The greatest of all (in my opinion) being LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory, set in WWII America and this story certainly has a similar feel. The Sleeping Night is a wonderful, poignant story of forbidden love for two young people who are determined to defy the times and strictures of society.