You are my love. My one and only love.
You always have been and always will be.
OMG. OMG. OMG!!!! I absolutely LOVED this book!!
From the moment I read the prologue, I was hooked and could NOT put it down even for a single minute!! I cried, laughed, swooned, was totally overwhelmed with emotion, and even had to take little “breathers” before turning the page because it could get literally that intense!!! It had ALL THE FEELS.
This story was 100% unique and unlike any other I’ve ever read. It’s a modern-day wartime love story with fantastic writing, strong characters, a gripping and emotional tale, and an epic romance that kept my heart racing from start to finish. This was smart, intelligent romance. Total BOOK HEAVEN!! 5 STARS!!
I have such an epic book hangover from this book. I went to bed thinking about it. I woke up thinking about it. I’m sitting here now thinking about it… just reliving all those feels!!! This was absolutely one of the BEST BOOKS I’ve read this year. If you’re a fan of romance that is outside the box and doesn’t follow traditional storylines but that’ll still deliver a heart-racing, epic love story, then you have to try this one!!
The story is about Sophie Swenda, a refugee aid expert, who is used to saving lives on a grand scale. And now she’s has to save just one person — the man she loves. Michael Nariovsky-Trent is a doctor who vanished months ago. She believes he’s trapped “trapped inside the fences and barbed wire of a sinister refugee camp, lost in a sea of freezing, starving prisoners of war.” Despite being separated for ten years after their romance failed, they’ve both been too stubborn to forgive past mistakes… and still too in love to move on. She has “always believed their time would come – no matter how unlikely it seems to everyone around them… [But] unless she can find him, their long-delayed chance at love will be lost forever….”
“You can’t save everyone. You’ve got to know that.”
She’d stood for a moment more, feeling the cool, professional demeanour she presented to the world trembling under the pressure of the intensely personal fear beneath.
“I know. But I have to find him.”
From the first few pages, I already had that thrilling, adrenaline-filled book excitement that only my top favorite books ever evoke. I could just tell that this one was special. I got CHILLS and SHIVERS from my reactions to the excitement of the story as it unfolded. By only 7%, they’d already happened several times!!
Despite this being a wartime story, it is present-day contemporary romance. The way the author facilitated this was to create an imaginary country named Orlisia that the hero was from and that was now occupied by the Soviet Republic. The commander had rounded up the survivors into a barbaric prison camp. Against the bitter cold winter, they stood almost no chance of survival. And Sophie knew that Michael was likely trapped in there. Using her job and passion as a rescue aid worker and leveraging her professional power, she united the world’s refugee aid together to form a coalition that banded together to help rescue the people trapped there — and in the process find Michael and bring him home. A secret mission within their already life-threatening mission. The code name for when they found Michael was Vanguard.
“The code word is Vanguard,” she said. “I can’t say over an open cell or satellite phone connection that we’ve found an American citizen in the camp. The Soviets would be all over us in seconds, and we might never get him out… If you get a message from me that has the word Vanguard in it, it means I’ve got him. Understand?”
By 15%, tears were in my eyes purely from the overflow of emotion. My throat was closed up. I was hanging off of every word. Her efforts to save this man were truly empowering. I couldn’t look away from the page. Using government documents, every shred of inside and official information, arial photos, and reports, she put together a plan. And then the day came when the coalition was greenlighted to enter the camp as emergency relief aid and they began their mission. But hers was single minded: rescue Michael.
There were code words, safe houses, armoured guards, strike teams, secret missions, fifty-five people on a mission to save thousands of lives, and searching desperately for one man in their midst… This story had all the thrill of an action movie mixed in with the heart-wrenching emotions of an epic romance.
“Please I’ll give you anything, just please let him be alive. Let me be in time.”
I also have to give the author props for creating a country name so believable that it made me momentarily question my knowledge of geography enough to go make me hesitantly google “Orlisia” juuust to be sure (don’t judge). She cleverly wove in elements of the real world with fictional places and organizations in a way that made me buy it without question and more importantly, to whole-heartedly believe it. Her descriptions painted a clear and vivid picture of their situation and made me deeply understand these characters motivations and passions. I felt like I lived this story with them.
The story is told in a mixture of present day storylines as we see Sophie race against the clock to get from NYC to the refugee camps juxtaposed with flashbacks to their tumultuous and complex history together over the last ten years.
Ohh and you guys!! Their love for each other was SO strong — the ultimate unrequited but yet powerful and unquestionable love. So by the time they got together oh boy did I ever feel it!! Between her stubborn, headstrong nature and his prideful and flaring temper, they clashed strongly. But their love for each other was stronger than their differences. They were willing to literally risk their lives to save each other.
The story is sexy and swoony, but not erotic. There’s definitely sex in it and I know some of you are curious about this so I want to reassure you that even though this takes place in a wartime setting, there is a lot of time focused just on Michael and Sophie’s love story. They manage to get in considerable alone time (in a way that fits effortlessly into the story without seeming out of place) so I want to reassure you that the romance is not glossed over. This is a romance. The refugee camps are the setting. Naturally both are described in detail but everything comes back to their romance. This is their story.
Michael was here.
She didn’t need to see his face. She didn’t need to hear his voice. She never had. His presence washed over her like a wave.
There was fantastic banter that had me laughing out loud several times. Despite this being quite an intense story, its very well balanced between all the elements that make up a thrilling and romantic read.
I’m blown away that this was a debut novel. This author. Holy brilliant! She thought of everything. This is such intelligent romance. She clearly did a lot of reasearch to put this story together and every single detail just clicked perfectly into place. I believed this story. I experienced their love. It just felt real.
And dear movie gods, please let this get a movie deal!!!! This story would be brilliant on the big screen. The writing was so descriptive that I honestly could see it playing out vividly in my mind. If this ever hit theaters, you can bet I’d pay to see it probably five times over!
In complete honesty, I don’t think this book will necessarily be for absolutely everyone. But if you’re like me and love stories that stand out from the others, that are different, and outside the box, but still stick to the core elements of romance, you should absolutely try this. There is no cheating, no love triangle, no horrible tragedy. It’s not gruesome or graphic. It’s just a fantastically thrilling, heart-racing love story with a completely unique setting. Honestly, I’d most highly recommend it for fans of The Bronze Horseman (which as many of you know is my favorite book in the whole world). While this story was very different, there was a similarity in feeling that I think fans of TBH will pick up on and likely also fall in love with.
I am so grateful to the author of this book for stepping outside the romance box, but still delivering such an epic love story. This is the kind of book I spent hours and hours searching for each week. It’s intelligent romance with a completely unique story. It really blew me away!
I’d easily consider this to be one of the best books of the year!!! A top recommendation!
Rating: 5 STARS!!! Standalone contemporary romance.