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Rose of Anzio: A WWII Epic Love Story (Series, Books 1-3) -- Alexa Kang -- Submitted for consideration on August 22nd, 2016.

Author resides in: USA

REVIEWED on September 26th, 2016

Our editor said:

When invited to review Rose of Anzio—currently a series of three novels, all heady love stories of WWII—it was a very appealing proposition.

We began reading with Volume 3, Desire, as this was the volume corresponding to the timeline of the namesake battle for the series. The beauty of the Rose of Anzio books is that they can be read as a series or can stand alone very easily, and as single volumes they—unusually—stand up to scrutiny with no doubts whatsoever; the historical integrity and strength of each volume’s storyline is such that a reader can digest the novels in any chosen order and the whole still makes perfect sense.


There are no stuttering moments in any of the books, nor when seen as a series. The flow from each plot to the next is an easy, natural transition and each read entirely engrossing. Our reviewer’s heart was in her mouth through much of the series and she was saddened to close down the final page.

When one thinks of love stories, it almost seems incongruous with the inevitable, bloody and traumatic battleground scenes, yet it’s not. Far from it; this was a time when love meant everything, and Kang has brilliantly and evocatively captured minute tender moments in this fraught, frenetic and anguished period, showing a depth of emotional maturity in her writing to which most authors can only aspire.

All three stories show well-rounded, inclusive narrative that never causes the reader to disengage. The narrative possesses a beautiful softness of voice with many moments in each volume that will move the reader.


Scene-setting is clever, too; we really felt we were there, in the period, in the setting, feeling with the characters. There was not for one moment a sense of this couldn’t have happened, or this doesn’t fit the period. It’s plain that some meticulous historical research underpins the series, from an author passionate about WWII and all it entailed.


In Volume 1, Moonlight, we see fourteen-year-old Tessa’s emotional turmoil and growth as she is torn from the world she knows in the U.K., and is sent to Chicago to live with the Ardleys, a prominent and well-to-do family who will become pivotal for the series. The story is real, gritty, full of heartache and happiness, and it’s drawn by the pen of an expert in the events of the time. The reader finds themselves drawn to the characters and fully immersed in the period; it feels almost too real.


Having seen and shared in the thoughts and emotions of Tessa, we move to the University of Chicago campus where we learn the dilemma faced by a very young Anthony Ardley; faced with the disturbing yet enticing choices of war and conscription, what should he do? He finds his loyalties fiercely divided.


It is only when Tessa and Anthony’s paths cross, that we see the reality of how hearts and minds can find a path irrespective of the turmoil around.

Volume 2, Jalousie, is equally accomplished, showing how real love can overcome all the trials and tribulations of the war setting; Tessa uses guile to follow Lieutenant Anthony Ardley into war, but things are not as easy as she had hoped; she encounters so many obstacles along her path, each determined to slow her progress back to the man she loves.


In this volume we really see Tessa’s personal growth, as soon her mind is preoccupied with thoughts of what it really means to be a nurse to men afflicted by battlefield injuries, whether physical or of the mind.


Tessa’s own struggles are mirrored, in turn, by those of her love Anthony who has found himself thrust into a world where nothing is as it seemed.

In Volume 3, Desire, we see Lieutenant Anthony Ardley’s deep struggle to choose the right course of action to maintain troops’ safety against a backdrop of an inept superior’s decisions. This highlights the daily struggles of being a commander in a volatile, often unsupported wartime situation, while on the other hand, we see, counter-balanced, the efforts of a New York medic to make the right decisions when he falls in unrequited love. The book has decision-making at its core, therefore, and skilfully highlights the polarising world of wartime, where the stakes are always high, whether in romance or in battle.


Rose of Anzio
is a stunning, superlative collection of works finished to an enviably high standard, from the covers through to the narratives, dialogue and the absolute realism borne of an insightful, historically accurate and details-driven author. Dialogue is particularly well-crafted, not a phrase out of place, and we consider Kang a true wordsmith. Her work is a joy to read, and we strongly recommend the series Rose of Anzio: A WWII Epic Love Story from start to end.


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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