In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for.
When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she’ll face imprisonment.
Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection—and an unbreakable bond.
But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband’s death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Waterfall Press
RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2017
“We all despair; we all have regrets…That’s when we need our faith in God to bring us through.”
I feel like I need to review this book in two parts in order to properly explore it. (And once again I wish I could copy and paste Beckie’s review from By The Book.) On the one hand, I loved the history as well as the village women who rally to fight injustice. On the other hand, there were times I felt it bordered on crass and inappropriate.
Dickson has a talent for creating vibrant & colorful characters as well as weaving history into an intriguing story. Off the top of my head, I can’t readily think of another book I’ve read that shines a spotlight on Irish neutrality – and how that played out in reality – during WW2. She has vividly captured the political, religious, and ideological attitudes of the day in a way that makes me want to do my own research to learn more. The villain in Grounded Hearts was truly nasty and vulgar … but she was able to keep him from being cliche which is often difficult to avoid.
Another element I found interesting is the mix of ‘What-version-of-English-do-you-speak’ nationalities which seamlessly integrate into the plot. Our hero, Dutch Whitney, is a Canadian pilot for the British Royal Air Force. Dr. Mann (who is a woman lol) is American. And of course the British and Irish characters. This adds another touch of history that I want to further explore, as well as some humor (especially delightful for this ESOL teacher) and a dash or two of intrigue.
Yet, the frequent references to physical attributes (and I’m not talking about eyes or the cut of the jaw) left me unsettled about this book. If it had been just the ‘villain’ or an uncouth soldier or two, I could have tolerated it a little more. But it was the hero, the heroine, and just about every other character at one time or another. Additional innuendo throughout the book (such as making not-so-veiled jokes about a man’s ‘third leg’ … which the hero explains to the heroine by glancing down at his lap) was just too crude and too frequent for my preferences. Y’all know I love my KissingBooks and that I don’t mind some spice in my books… but what I found here involved mostly the physical with almost no emotional connection. As Carole from The Power of Words said, “It’s difficult to explain the difference, but a Christian novel can portray a certain level of intimacy…that is realistic and beautiful, while here it felt cheapened.”
Something else that troubled me about Grounded Hearts was the portrayal of Irish Catholics. I am not personally Catholic, nor am I currently Irish (though it’s in my ancestry), and perhaps this is an accurate depiction of Irish Catholics during that time period. But I kept looking for even just one person who truly seemed to love Jesus and honor Him. Not a perfect character, but one who both understood grace and let it change their lives. Dutch came close, but something still seemed missing.
One final thing didn’t sit right with me, and unfortunately it’s a phrase that is repeated frequently throughout the novel. “God doesn’t bring you anything you can’t handle.” With respect to what I know the author intended to convey, this concept just isn’t true. We ARE given things we can’t handle. I’m walking through a season right now that I cannot handle. And some days it shows. But here’s the truth that encourages me: I can’t handle it… but God can. I believe He does allow things to come into our lives that we can’t handle on our own strength, and He allows them so we can discover that HIS strength is sufficient. (see Philippians 4:12-13, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, and Job 42:5)
Bottom Line: Grounded Hearts is equally parts fascinating and frustrating for me. I adored the feisty spirit of the women, particularly a couple of scenes toward the end. The setting and its place in history has me itching to learn more and the intrigue/suspense kept me turning the pages. Especially when the innuendos and sensuality got a bit much for me. I needed some deeper emotional ties between characters, and I ached to find one ‘religious’ person in the story who truly seemed to love and honor my Jesus. Still, Grounded Hearts has gotten high marks from reviewers I trust – and it’s also gotten low marks from other reviewers I trust – so this seems to be a book on which you will need to decide for yourself!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 3 stars / Mixed feelings
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Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling. Perfecting her craft, she attends many writer’s conferences and over the years, she has won and finaled in numerous RWA romance writing awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, The Molly, The Tara, and she was the overall contest winner of Launching A Star. Today she lives in Coastal San Diego with her fabulous husband, her two wonderful girls, and a dozen disobedient rose bushes.
What about you? What’s a book you’ve had mixed feelings about?