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Rose of Anzio - Desire (Volume 3): A WWII Epic Love Story -- Alexa Kang -- Submitted for consideration on August 22nd, 2016.

Author resides in: USA

REVIEWED on September 6th, 2016

Our editor said:

When invited to review Rose of Anzio – Desire, it was an appealing proposition; the Battle of Anzio is a lesser-documented but significant event, and only military historians really talk about it. What better mechanism to explore it, than via a thoughtful, engaging historical romance?

In this book, we see events through the perspective of the men of the U.S. Army Third Division.


Early 1944 was such an evocative, painful time; however, weren’t such periods also invariably filled with romance amid the turmoil of bitter war? The loves that blossomed during this period were passionate, necessarily frenetic, and often borne of a desire to enjoy every moment when there was possibly going to be no tomorrow. Kang depicts both the horrors and fears of war alongside the softness and subtleties of romance as if they were born to marry—despite the obviously immense challenges of polarising imagery.

We see the many facets of war, not just the battles but also the personal struggles and decisions faced by troops and commanders, and those they encounter along the way. Kang has the unusual skill to place the reader inside the characters’ minds as if we are reading their thoughts and seeing through their eyes. Thus, it becomes, soon, not a tale, but our reality.

Kang is unafraid, too, of weighty narrative; she does not shy from the depth required in order to depict the severity of the situation, nor does she once falter in recounting fine details. There is no hiding behind superficial froth; this is as incisive in its historical accuracy as it is heart-rending in its romantic themes.

Interpersonal relationships and choices—overtly or subliminally—are equally cleverly depicted; internal struggles of men and women are vividly set against the colossal, overwhelming backdrop of raging war.

To begin with, one cannot help but think what ill-conceived global decisions brought about this battle per se? The over-arching, looming shadow of those catastrophically ‘larger than life’ grim realities are never far away.


Lieutenant Anthony Ardley has to choose courses of action to keep his troops safe in the wake of poor decision-making by his own superior. This was a common enough reality of the time; men often had to plumb the depths of their consciences to make decisions against their command, and Kang has captured the essence of this superbly.

We meet Jesse, the New York medic who brings secrets from his past and elects to add yet more when he falls in unrequited love and is forced to contemplate his life. And we are privy to the choices faced by Tessa Graham, a nurse and the object of Jesse’s desire, who keeps him at arm’s length.


These are a few of the tangled hearts we meet, carving out their paths in the bitter climate of the Anzio beachhead.


Historical romance is challenging for any author; there is always a risk of not appearing credible, of weak background imagery and unsubstantiated facts, and of characters who seem not of the time they represent.


There’s none of this with Kang; she knows the period as well as she knows the hearts of her protagonists, guaranteeing a smooth, immersive and heart-rending romantic read. We are never jolted out by questions around persuasiveness, and the dialogue, too, is of the period and yet is fresh, new, and engaging.


This is an accomplished book, and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the Rose of Anzio series.


Our scores:

Visual appeal: 5/5

Storyline (Content): 4.5/5

Dialogue: 4.5/5

Editing and proofreading: 4.5/5

 

Final Score : 18.5/ 20


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