23 September 2013

Review: When the Clouds Roll By by Myra Johnson

Bittersweet Christian Romance: Recommended

It’s November 1918, and Annemarie Kendall works for her father as the bookkeeper at his pottery works in Hot Springs, Arkansas, while she waits for the war to end and her fiancé, Gilbert Ballard, to come home. She keeps herself busy designing beautiful one-off pieces of pottery—something she knows she won’t be able to do when she marries.

But when the war ends and Gilbert returns to Hot Springs with his friend, Army Chaplain Samuel Vickery, Gilbert isn’t the man Annemarie once knew. He’s suffering shellshock, recovering from losing a leg, and will barely speak to her. Annemarie is left to find out about his progress from Samuel, who is becoming a good friend. But it’s not just Gilbert who is carrying scars from the war. Samuel is as well, only his wounds are less obvious.

When the Clouds Roll By is Myra Johnson’s first full-length romance novel, and I think she’s done a great job. It’s not a typical romance with an ending that’s obvious from the first page, and I liked that unpredictability. There were times when I got frustrated with Gilbert for doing stupid things, but at the same time I realised that was how he would behave.

It was still definitely a romance, with two strong male leads vying for Annemarie’s attention. But it was something more as well, with strong subplots around recovering from shellshock, and the use and abuse of prescription medicines. When the Clouds Roll By is the first book in the Till We Meet Again series, and I’m certainly keen to return to Hot Springs, because there are a few minor characters I’d like to see more of. Recommended.

Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Myra Johnson at her website.

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