War puts courage and love to the test.
It’s 1939, a lone Spitfire roars over her family home, and Ilona Lowe, entranced by its grace and power, finally knows her place in the fight against Hitler. She joins the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, is stationed at RAF Catterick and embarks on an all-too-brief love affair with a Bleinheim bomber pilot who is killed during the Battle of Britain.
Heartbroken, but determined to carry on, Ilona returns to active duty where she encounters Francis Robson. He’s arrogant—some would even say reckless—and another pilot. Yet he’s worth the risk.
Their love isn’t easy. Francis harbors jealousy about her former lover while Ilona’s posting at an RAF bomber base feeds her nightmares about Francis’ safety. She can see the escalation of stakes as his missions grow ever more dangerous, the enemy more desperate. Ilona must put her courage to the test because she knows that loving Francis means letting him let him fight on, regardless of the terrible price they both may pay.
Review: I’m not a huge historical novel kind of reader. I will admit I have read them in the past but they just aren’t up there on my list of favorites. That was before I read A Kestrel Rising by S A Laybourn. This book had me hooked from the first page. It’s an amazing story of love, loss and how to get back up after it all.
In A Kestrel Rising we are introduced to Ilona Lowe. The story is told from her point of view and really paints a wonderful picture. The detailed descriptions of scenes and feelings made me feel like I was there with her. Set in WWII Ilona or Ilke to her friends is a driver for the W.A.A.F. This has her moving to where ever she is needed. The story is beautifully written from a strong woman’s point of view during a time of War. It shows how relationships might have worked during that time. A time when love had to span distance and time. On top of that you had to live with the fear of not knowing if your loved ones be it family or friends were safe. Ilke was taught a lesson that not everyone one has a chance to learn. She was blessed with meeting the love of her life Ian during the time of war, and had a wonderful whirlwind of a romance with him, until tragedy struck.
After a long painful road of grieving she realizes that she has love still in her heart to give. The question that she struggled with the most is could she let go and move on. Ilke had a hard time letting go of Ian but with the close network of friends and loved ones that she had around her and guidance and advice from many of them after three years she found that it was time to move on, and open her heart again and that person was closer than she expected. A friendship with Francis who she knew from back home blooms after he is injured during the war and she reaches out to him to show support. Just like any relationship it has it’s hard times and Francis does not make it easy. The author gave such depth to the characters that I could not get over all the feelings that I experienced from this book.
I read the jacket of the book before reading the book itself but I was not prepared for the tears that came. Be advised that this has multiple parts that will require a box of tissues at your side. However it just adds to how beautiful the story is. I will definitely be reading more by S A Laybourn and I do believe she has opened my eyes to historical romance.
Favorite Quote: “I was stupid, proud and foolish. I thought if I shut myself off from everyone, things wouldn’t hunt so badly. I kept telling myself that I was doing the right thing because if people stopped caring about me, they wouldn’t get hurt.”