Tuesday Book Club: Romance In War series by Louise Roberts
I’m delighted to have as my guest, the wonderful historical romance author Louise Roberts. Louise is Australian, but is fortunate enough to now live in the lovely south of France. Welcome Louise and thank you for the opportunity to feature blurbs and excerpts from your two new books Letter From A Stranger and Dragoon Serenade which readers can get in one volume here.
LETTER FROM A STRANGER – Book 1
At the outbreak of the Second World War, in Britain, women were encouraged to write letters to the men on the front line. For Jean White this would lead to a friendship with Bill Brooks, an anti-aircraft gunner with the Royal Artillery serving on the south coast of England at the height of the Blitz.
As German aircraft drop their deadly payloads over London and devastate most of southern England, the relationship between Jean and Bill blossoms. Through their correspondence, at first, and then when they finally meet. It’s as though the world has stood still. A quiet weekend away from London strengthens their bond and romance blissfully flourishes.
As the war intensifies and Bill’s impending departure to foreign shores looms ever closer their future together seems insecure, until a few days before his departure when Bill proposes marriage. Will Jean accept the proposal or will doubt keep them apart?
Jean had been seated by the window in their sitting room waiting to see when Bill would arrive. Although she didn’t have the faintest idea what he looked like, she knew he would be in uniform and would be arriving at around one o’clock. Although there had been a few military personnel coming in and out of the pub during the morning. When a tall, muscular-looking, blond-haired soldier approached the entrance carrying a couple of parcels, something inside her exploded with certainty that this was the man who had been visiting her dreams ever since they’d started to correspond.
Bill stood still and watched as she approached. She was like an apparition of heavenly beauty, and he found it hard not to look away, so he continued to gaze at her, smiling.
“Hello, Bill… It is Bill, is it not?” she asked in a happy, yet sultry voice that captured his attention.
“Yes, yes it is,” he mumbled like a love-sick schoolboy, whilst mentally chastising himself for coming across like some babbling fool. Quickly composing his thoughts, he recovered his manners and added, “I’m so very happy to finally meet you.”
She hooked her arm inside his and led him towards the bar. “Reg, this is Bill,” she said to her brother.
“Glad you could visit,” the young man said cheerfully. “Go on up with Jean, I’ll be along as soon as I can get this miserable lot out,” he added loudly so those around could hear. There followed a bit of friendly bantering as they feigned annoyance at the comment, but they knew it was in jest. The customers returned to their conversations and Reg to his duties; Jean led the way up the stairs to their residence.
At the top of the stairs on the landing Violet and Albert White waited to welcome their guest. “It is a pleasure to meet you,” Albert said and introduced his wife.
“Thank you for inviting me,” Bill answered politely. Holding out the cake to Violet he said, “This is for you. It’s a Christmas pudding with a difference.”
Violet accepted it smiling and said, “A difference? What’s different about it?”
“It’s a sponge cake,” Bill answered, bringing them to laughter and breaking the ice.
It had been a wonderful afternoon. Bill had felt very relaxed amongst Jean and her family, so much so, that when he asked if Jean would accompany him on a short walk there was no question their friendship had been sealed when she accepted the invitation. When her parents seemed to encourage them to go for the walk, his heart leapt for joy.
They walked hand-in-hand along Southwark Park Road in the direction of the river ignoring the bomb-damaged buildings. Side-stepping craters in the road created by parachute mines as they spoke on a variety of subjects getting to know each other. By the time they had returned to the pub, it was almost evening, and they had been grateful to Mister Hitler for not ruining their day. There had been a lull in air raids over Christmas, and it had been nice it had extended into Boxing Day.
“It has been a wonderful day, Bill. Thank you for my present, I shall enjoy reading it.”
“Well, you did say you liked Jan Tempest.”
“It was sweet of you to remember.”
“I will be heading up to Buckinghamshire at the weekend to visit my youngest brother and sister—”
“Yes, I would love to come along,” Jean said quickly interrupting him.
As he looked down at this beautiful young woman before him, his heart skipped a beat. He hadn’t experienced such a feeling before and wondered if this was what falling in love was like. He gazed into her eyes as she placed her hands on his shoulders. She reached up on the tips of her toes and kissed him lightly on the lips.
DRAGOON SERENADE – Book 2
On a dark night in July 1944, Special Operations Executive agent, Simone rows ashore from a submarine at the small fishing town of Golfe-Juan on the Côte d’Azur. She meets the Resistance Leader code name “Hibou” with whom she had a romantic affair during a mission in northern France several months previously. Once again, they engage in subterfuge operations against the German forces in the lead up to the Allied landings, code named Operation Dragoon, scheduled for the following month.
Although their relationship is reawakened, the tension of their exploits and the possibility of being caught by the Gestapo from information leaked by traitors in their midst causes some instability. However, love has a way to conquer doubt, but as their love deepens so too does the risk of them making mistakes.
Will Hibou be able to concentrate on the most important mission yet to come, or will his love for Simone lead to a moment’s carelessness that could be their undoing?
Dragoon Serenade Book Trailer Video:
The dim red light seemed to engulf the space around her as she sat quietly out of the way of the busy mariners. She had just been told they had reached their destination and the crew was making ready to resurface the submarine so that she could disembark.
When initially Simone had learned that she had been hand-picked for this assignment she had wondered what special qualities she had to offer. Then she had been told the name of the Resistance leader’s code name was “Hibou” — the French name for an owl — and her heart had caught in her throat.
It was toward the end of 1943 during the lead up to Operation Overlord where she had first met Hibou at the community of Saint-Lô located in North West France. Although at the time no one was privy to the date and actual location of the planned invasion, it was deemed prudent that all Resistance fighters throughout northern France were to be well-equipped.
Could he be the same man? She truly hoped so. Surely the Special Operations Executive wouldn’t use the same code name for someone else?
Simone closed her eyes to remember that mission. Her directive had been to reorganize a Resistance unit and to supply them with arms and explosives…
Hibou was tall and stockily built with dark curly hair. He had large gorgeous blue eyes, and she could plainly see how the code name fitted him perfectly. It had been love at first sight, and despite the dangers, they had managed to nurture a strong romantic bond. Even though their intimacy had let down their guard, they had never divulged their own real names. When it was time to leave it was as though her heart had been wrenched out, but now there was a chance to meet him again. Would they be able to rekindle their relationship? Would he even remember her?
She tightened her eyes to concentrate on her memory and tried to ignore the noises about her.
At the beginning, their relationship had been strictly professional, but a close encounter with the Gestapo removed all pretense, and they found comfort in each other’s arms. One thing led to another, and before they could stop themselves, they were entangled naked on the soft straw of a stall in a barn. The only noise aside their heavy breathing was the sound of jingling bells that were tied around the necks of several goats nearby.
Simone could still ‘feel’ his touch and the sensation of fullness as his manhood slid within her. She subconsciously clenched the muscles of her lower regions as she conjured up those thoughts.
“Miss Dubois, the Commander would like a word.” The voice in her ear snapped her from the reverie. As she opened her eyes to regard the speaker she was grateful for the red light to help disguise the flushness of her cheeks.
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Louise Roberts grew up and was educated in London, England and has always held a passion for history and English Literature.
She has been writing since her teenage years, but only began writing fiction in the 1990s having been inspired by her mother, Viviane Elisabeth Borg, who is a published author.
Although Louise had immigrated to Sydney, Australia in 1988, and became an Australian citizen in 1991, she relocated to Europe in 2016 and today resides in the coastal town of Golfe-Juan in the south of France.
Louise retains membership of Romance Writers of Australia and Australian Romance Readers Association.
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