Set in England during the final year of World War II, Anne Whitfield's Broken Hero is the deeply emotional story of Audrey Pearson and Jake Harding, two wounded souls trying to make the best of life as the war rages around them. Audrey's family has allowed their country estate to become a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers in the aftermath of her brother's death in the war, and Jake is the current doctor sent to take care of the men. Audrey has also lost her mother recently, and though she still has her wilder younger sister Lucy, her father is not in good health. Jake comes to the estate still trying to deal with the loss of his wife and baby a few years earlier, and determined to never allow himself to fall in love again. Naturally the two instantly have sparks, but what can be done with Jake's insistence on a lonely life and the future so uncertain for all?
From the first pages I was drawn into England during World War II; Ms. Whitfield does an exemplary job of describing the country and the people. The dialogue is relaxed and believable, and it is easy to see both Audrey and Jake longing for each other, yet unable to give freely of themselves. I loved that there were no easy answers for this couple; the tension created between them is palpable and gut wrenching. The secondary characters, such as the fun-loving Lucy and the dependable nurse Valerie, add greatly to the story by fleshing out the existence of the occupants at the house. I found myself smiling with Audrey's attempts to flirt with Jake, and my heart hurt when even more loss occurred for this strong heroine.
Broken Hero is the sort of story I love to treat myself to on a regular basis because I know I will remember the characters for a very long time to come. I had no difficulty hearing their voices in my head; I was practically out of breath myself when the bombs were falling all around and I was choked up as their stories came to light. My only rather nit-picky slightly anal complaint was the need for some editing--the English teacher in me wanted to add commas and check spelling a few times. But don't let that deter you from experiencing a truly magnificent tale! Whitfield has delivered a well-rounded story that will have a place in my heart always.