Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
In France at the height of World War I, American nurse Evelyn Gray is no stranger to suffering. She’s helped save the life of many a soldier, but when she learns her betrothed has been killed, her own heart may be broken beyond repair. Summoning all her strength, Evelyn is determined to carry on-not just for herself and her country, but for her unborn child. Corporal Joel Campbell dreams of the day the war is over and he can return home and start a family. When a brutal battle injury puts that hope in jeopardy, Joel is lost to despair . . . until he meets Evelyn. Beautiful, compassionate, and in need of help, she makes an unconventional proposal that could save their lives-or ruin them irrevocably. Now, amidst the terror and turmoil of the Western Front, these two lost souls will have to put their faith in love to find the miracle they’ve been looking for. (Goodreads)
Hope Rising is a beautiful story of overcoming loss and finding hope in one’s situation. Evelyn is a devoted nurse and is looking forward to her upcoming nuptials to Private Ralph Kelly. When a fresh group of casualties arrive at the hospital, she meets wounded squad leader Joel, who happens to be Ralph’s best friend and was by his side when he died. He has the difficult task of breaking the news to Evelyn, and she is crushed, not knowing what she will do now that she will not be married before her pregnancy becomes obvious. No matter what, she will discharged, married or not, when her secret is out. Joel, who has dreamed of life after the war with a wife and family of his own, is also devastated by Ralph’s death. He blames himself, but he is in even more despair after he learns that his injuries will inhibit his ability to have a family. They are both grieving the loss of their hopes and plans, but each has the strength to keep going.
Evelyn proposes a solution to their problems…why don’t they marry? This will provide legitimacy to Evelyn’s situation, and Joel can then still be a father. Initially, he balks at the idea but then agrees that they should get to know each other while he is recovering in the hospital, then decide if they should indeed marry. What starts out as an arrangement born out of obligation and circumstance blossoms into love. The war again deters their plans, but even after experiencing more loss, they still hope to have their happily ever after.
Ms. Henrie writes complex, realistically human characters, people that are flawed and make mistakes. People that the reader wants to know. She draws a vivid picture of France during World War I without being graphic, and the tone is just right. One can hear the mortar shells exploding, feel the slick mud, and smell the blood. But the reader can also smell the freshly baked bread, feel the gentle breeze on the lawn, and experience the love in a young boy’s smile. It evokes emotion without being sappy or veering into melodrama. The reader will root for the characters. I love Evelyn and Joel, but Louis now holds a special place in my heart.
I love the message of this book. It deals with survivor guilt and the loss of hopes and dreams. It is an inspirational romance but does not beat the reader over the head with a religious message. Finding a renewed faith in God, realizing that good can come from heartache, and that sometimes the life you lead is far better than the life you planned.
I highly recommend Hope Rising to fans of inspirational and historical romances.