SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Rose of No Man’s Land by Margaret Tanner


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Sister Amy Smithfield is carrying on her family’s military tradition in the only way she can, as an Australian Army nurse. Dedicated to her calling, she has sworn off interest in men for the duration of the Great War in Europe . When she literally runs into Mark Tremayne, an English captain in the Australian army, her real struggle begins. Mark has his own reasons for keeping any relationship with the opposite sex in the casual mode, and he fights to deny his attraction to the petite blonde nurse who stirs his senses beyond the ordinary. Their battle against love continues from Australia to the Mediterranean to France . When Amy is captured by German soldiers, Mark realizes how much she means to him — but can he overcome pride and find Amy after his jealous anger pushes her away?


Bellows of rage from Major Swartz, followed by barked out orders, confirmed the search had started. Amy clenched her teeth together to stop them chattering and tried to still her trembling body. You don’t want to die. You want to live so you can be with Mark again. Love fought with fear – love won.

She lay motionless, even when a booted foot stomped on her hand. Scarcely daring to breathe, she waited. Time passed, how long she did not know, but when a tremendous artillery barrage started up again Amy knew the British were preparing for yet another assault on Thiepval. It was now or never.

She got to her knees and crawled on all fours in what she hoped was the direction of the British lines. She was too frightened to cry out; if she stood up she would almost certainly be mown down.
What if the infantry attack started and caught her out in No Man’s land? In a German uniform she risked being shot, even if she managed to make contact with some unit.

I’m doing this for you, Mark, she thought desperately; I wouldn’t be brave enough to do it otherwise. After what seemed like hours, with shells dropping all around, she came to some barbed wire. God, don’t let me die out here like a dog, not after I’ve come so far. She clawed at the ground with her fingers, gouging and scraping the oozing mud away in an endeavour to tunnel underneath.

The unseasonable downpours of the last few days had turned the Somme battlefield into a sea of mud, fortunately for her. Finally she burrowed her way under the wire entanglements.
What a sight she must present, muddy, unwashed, hair so filthy it was probably full of lice. You fool, she scolded herself. Why worry about how you look, survival is all that matters. Getting out of this hell. Concentrate on this, nothing else. You want to live don’t you? Fight to live Smithfield.

“Oh, Mark, please help me.”

Terror filled her heart as a machine gun opened up from the German lines and the fire was instantly returned. Still on her knees, she crawled over bodies, some felt stiff and hard, others saturated with the warm stickiness of fresh blood.
“Stretcher bearers, for God’s sake, help me.”

Above the noise of battle Amy heard a plea almost at her elbow. Someone was still alive out here in this ravaged No Man’s land. She hesitated only for a moment. You’re a nurse, aren’t you? Do something.

“Where are you?” Her voice was so scratchy sounding she hardly recognized it.


She slithered towards the sound. “Where?”

“Over here.”

Suddenly the ground opened up beneath her and she felt herself falling. She hit something soft and an agonized scream rent the air.

“Sorry, I’ve fallen on you,” she apologized.

The moon slid out from behind a mountain of cloud. Its translucent beam momentarily allowed her to see a pile of bodies, and a soldier slumped up against the trench wall.

“Fritz.” He raised his rifle, the moonbeams shifted fortunately, plunging the trench into darkness once more.

“No, I’m an escaped prisoner.”

“You sound like a lassie.”

“I’m an army nurse.”

“You must be one of those Australian nurses who disappeared. They’ve been talking about you up and down the trenches for

“I’m Amy Smithfield. How badly hurt are you?”

“My legs have been shot about and my shoulder is all smashed up, so I can’t drag myself back. I’ve been here since yesterday morning. Sgt Alistair McLeod at your service.”

“You’re Scottish?”

“How could you tell?”

“Your accent, of course.”

“We must be daft, lassie, chatting out here like this.”

“Yes, quite mad,” she agreed. “If I help, do you think you could stand up?”

“I’ll never be able to climb out of this shell hole, we’re only a hundred yards from our trenches. You could get someone to come out and get me.”

“What about the others?”

“All dead. I checked them in the daylight. A mortar landed on us, lucky it’s dark and you can’t see properly, it isn‘t a pretty sight. I’ve been in the army for twenty years, never seen anything this bad, though. You better make a run for it, Sister, once it gets light you’ll have no hope.”

“I can’t just leave you out here, Sarge.” She knew as well as he did, the unlikelihood of stretcher-bearers being able to bring him in, even if she did tell them where to find him. “I can help you.”

“No, save yourself.”

“We can both make it,” Amy insisted. When a lull in the firing came, she knew this might be their only chance of escape. “Try and stand up.”

He cried out in pain, but with her help managed to get to his feet.

“I’ll never be able to climb out.”

“Yes you will, with my help.” She scrambled out of the hole and stretched out flat on her stomach. “Catch hold of my hands.” She reached down, but just as their fingers touched, his slipped away because the hole was too deep.
She slid back into the dugout. “Off you go, lassie I’ll be all right.” He slumped to the ground again.

“I’m not leaving you out here, it would be murder.”


What nationality is the soldier Amy rescues?

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About the Author

Margaret Tanner is a multi-published Award winning Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically accurate. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty, or cemetery too overgrown. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia.

As part of her research she has visited the World War 1 battlefields in France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience.
Margaret is a member of the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG). She won the 2007 and 2009 Author of the Year at Her novel Frontier Wife won the Best Historical Romance Novel at the 2010 Readers Favorite Award, and another novel, Wild Oats was a 2011 Finalist in the EPIC awards. In 2013, her novel, Savage Possession, came 3rd in International Digital Awards contest hosted by the Oklahoma RWA, and her World War I novel, A Rose In No Man’s Land was a semi-finalist in The Kindle Book Reviews 2013 Best Indie Book Awards.

Margaret is married with three grown up sons, and two gorgeous little granddaughters. Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.


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