Book Review | “Where Dragonflies Hover” by AnneMarie Brear #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 8 July, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “Where Dragonflies Hover” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I wanted to read this lovely new release:

When this title was initially released (Digital First), I do remember I was charmed by it’s premise – to find an older estate and an diary of a life lived during WWI through the eyes of the nurse who has such a strong connection to the same house? It felt like it had a lot of the components and elements I enjoy finding in this particular niche of #HistFic which brokers into #timeslip or even #timeshift – where you are moving between more than one time in the narrative whilst having the full pleasure of being anchoured equally into the shoes of the characters who are pulling you in and out of their time-line! These are gems because we can re-walk through History, from a unique perspective whilst finding there is a plausible curiosity about having a portal such as a journal or diary carting us back into a specific time and place where a particular story or ‘truth’ hidden from sight needs to be unearthed, understood and brought forward into the light where it can reside without a shroud.

In regards to nursing fiction, I started finding Midwife stories I liked in Amish Fiction, short story or novella INSPY collections or stand-alone releases as well as a few selections in Historical Fiction across theme or sub-genre. One in particular was the discovery of the Bess Crawford Mysteries (see also Review) wherein I found a delightful new heroine! This series is one I want to re-address when time allows me – as I would LOVE to be able to re-read it straight from the beginning through to the latest installment! Secondly, sometimes you find nurses are strong characters within an established series, such as ChocLit’s #ChartonMinster series wherein I truly felt hugged close into Rose’s situation during the war sequences within the chapters of The Silver Locket (see also Review).

Having said this, there are moments where I feel Nursing Fiction can walk the fine line between being realistic and being a bit over the edge of where I can handle Medical Fiction. I never know until I get into the throes of a story where the line will be walked but I had caught a reader’s takeaway about Where Dragonflies Hover ahead of reading it myself, which made me wonder – oh, dear my! I think I might be in for a few scenes or sequences which could top my bookish sensitivities!

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Notation on Cover Art Design: When you really pull this image into a larger context of viewing, you can see how the timeines are equally spilt between the war era and the Contemporary find of the estate! I love how each is a slice of the story but also, how each half of the timeline visited int he story is pivotal to the understanding of the story as a whole!

Book Review | “Where Dragonflies Hover” by AnneMarie Brear #ChocLitSaturdaysWhere Dragonflies Hover
by AnneMarie Brear
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future…

Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it.

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed…

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Historical Fiction, Time Slip and/or Time Shift, War Drama, Historical Romance

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 9781781893739

Also by this author: Where Rainbows End (Cover Reveal)

Published by ChocLitUK

on 7th June, 2017

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 320

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLitUK)

Formats Available: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #ChocLit & #HistFic + #TimeSlip OR #WhereDragonfliesHover

About AnneMarie Brear

AnneMarie Brear

AnneMarie has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, genealogy, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order!

AnneMarie grew up in Australia but now lives in the UK.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Oh, she could well imagine the parties that had been held on the lawn – the laughter, the gaiety. All gone now and replaced with the human debris of a Second World War. A few men lingered near the water, happy to be doing nothing but watching dragonflies hover.

-quoted from “Where Dragonflies Hover” with permission of the publisher

I positively love when writers find a way to ‘tuck-in’ their title into the flowing heart of their narratives! In this way, I wanted to share how poetic the moment is being described – as leading into this reflection of what is happening out on the lawn itself, the character of Allie is feeling nostalgic and attempting to off-set her physical discomforts by remembering happier times. It is how she fused sentiment and Hope into a short breath of reflection, I admired most. You can feel the moment even just through this short quotation I’ve pulled from the text. You cannot help but feel close to Allie and mindful, she has something to share with you which parlays into the recent past – of where war can muddle lives and where courage is a necessity.

My review of where dragonflies hover:

As we are on the fringes of understanding why Allie is locked into needing to impart her story into a diary – we start to see the wider scheme of how the war has not only affected her life but those of others both known and unknown to her directly. She’s housed in a convalescent home for those affected by war – this isn’t readily said, but you can read between the lines; of how soldiers in various stages of recovery and healing are aptly seen inasmuch as she’s forcing herself off her own physical pain to observe their actions inasmuch as continuing to write the words she dares not allow erased from time. The fortitude it takes in that moment – to recognise you’re not going to overcome what has befallen you (medically) but to find purpose and courage in attempting to leave a piece of yourself behind.

As Allie is finding ways to gobsmack her nurse (Jones, a plucky strong greenhorn of eighteen) in ’45, we shift forward into 2010 – where I would suspect the person meant to find the diary will soon become addicted to reading it! What I loved most though about the first chapter is how honest it was written – of allowing the honesty of war and the choices during war not be something to flinch over or to find bias against, but to have those stories own their authentic natures and be simply stated as truly as one would imagine they were honestly lived. War changes men and women; that’s a timeless fact. It’s how they learn to survive and carry-on whilst owning to the sacrifices and sense of duty they embody is a wonderment to us all back home. Those in service are owed a large debt of not just gratitude but of thankfulness and thanksgiving; for putting others first ahead of their own welfare and of not finding regret in the choices they made to ‘get by’ the horrors you simply don’t want to readily imagine they saw first-hand.

Laughs. I had a good turn of a smile noting why Lexi was more than slightly in awe and shock about what younger women were wearing out when they went on the town! It isn’t so much its become a generational gap be as it were it’s a different mentality in body image and of a blurring of the lines between what is considered ‘decent’ attire and what is considered ‘for parties’ or ‘clubbing’ as the term used to be. There is plenty of room for artistic flair but I do yield to Lexi in many regards – I’m not attached to the type of clothes or methods of expression she was appalled over as to me, ‘less is surely more’ by all counts! If you take a critical look into the back-histories of motion pictures, the women who populated the 30s – late 40s were all of a healthy weight (for the most part!) and looked striking in the ensembles they wore but they never overtly pushed the lines of what was proper. Sometimes I think modern women on the red carpet could take notes! More skin isn’t as appealing as some might think – as there is something to be said for ‘sophisticated eloquence’.

Lexi is truly in a sea of unhappiness – life has carved out a different kind of future than she was expecting she’d live; one where her husband worked long hours, took time away from her on special occasions and where the lackluster bits of their marriage were starting to become their ‘norm’. She couldn’t finger out what was wrong necessarily, only that at some point, they simply stopped functioning as a couple; they were two ships moving about without an anchour or rudder to guide them back to port together. It was sad realisation by half – owning more to the fact Lexi was falling in love with a house, an estate by most reputations – the very one, where Allie was languishing for more time to write her life’s story.

When Lexi first visits Hollingsworth House – something inside her is drawn to the grounds and the house as if by magnetic force! She feels an awakening in her spirit – of finding a singular place which not only befits her so wholly true to her being but a place which simply allows herself to feel relaxed. No longer bound to the stresses from her marriage nor of the pressures from her firm. Here, she can simply ‘be’ without anything else blocking her joy – there is something in that really, of finding a place where you can simply live and feel free whilst your there.

On the flipside of the joy erupting into Lexi’s life – both through the readings of Allie’s journal and of being present at Hollingsworth House are the delicate imbalances of her personal life. Her marriage has become a row match, set and point where her husband Dylan refuses to listen to her side of anything. You can see how their relationship started to fracture over time – his work hours not only stacked against what anyone would consider healthy (for his own mental health, if not his relationships) but it’s his conviction to adhere to the original plans he set forth for himself which started to be his downfall. He has an inherent flaw – he is not willing to adapt or shift his life’s plan if something changes mid-way towards where he believes he ought to be now. It’s a hard life to live – striving past what is advisable (for his personal well-being) but also, too, placing him in that vice of sacrificing more than his soul can reconcile.

Allie by comparison was walking a thin line of her own – between her heart and the rightfulness of being with a bloke who was free to be her own. It was dicey slope during war; no one has to cast a stone against actions taking during those years as the strength it took to endure the unthinkable had to factor into how two people like Allie and Mr Hollingsworth would have felt about each other. Facing death everyday, having your nerves pounded out of you by what sailed overhead and landed inches from where you stood – it’s not a wonder, they made choices outside of convention. What humanised Allie and Hollingsworth is the war itself – of being in this situation where you cannot see a clear path towards any moment outside of what you were facing. There was no past, no future; only the present. You can see why they found each other; to hold onto a bit of goodness out of despair. The journalled chapters on Allie’s life are so convicting and so very honest – you can definitely feel compassionate empathy for Allie’s struggles.

I was feeling a bit critical of how Brear would show what happens between Lexi and Dylan; if it would become predictable in the end or if in the middle bits if there was a yielding of emotions. What surprised me is how she stayed true to the conviction this particular marriage had a long way to go round before resolving its issues. Not a quick row here or there, nor of a short separation to untangle the ruts of where they fell out of step with each other. Instead, Brear points a more decided picture about how love is a tricky thing between two people who found themselves shifting forward in separate directions and how sometimes, finding your way back to each other or to a future apart, is the hardest path to walk.

One of the best threads within the novel were how supportive Lexi’s Mum, Dad and brother were through all the ups/downs she had to face whilst she had to decide what was best for her in the long term. Not only this, as finding supportive parents in fiction is not as popular as one would think – but her parents were truly invested in her interests. They might not have always understood her choices or agreed with how things went about; yet in the end, they drew together, closed ranks and found ways in which to ease the burdens off their daughter. There were more than a handful of scenes which truly touched me as they were highlighting how families can be close-knit in the best of times and just as close when things turn adverse!

As I was reading this time slip, there was a moment quite early-on where I could not distinguish myself from Allie and Lexi; the two women lived lives separately at first but they became entwined at some point, too. They felt like soul sisters – one tethered to the past, one in the future; wherein each of their lives were meant not to only cross but to effectively influence the other at the same time. Not that you could necessarily see how Lexi was affecting Allie; but there were small glimpses of this as Brear had Allie elude to the someone who wanted to find her diary. This person (left unknown to her) is who motivated her to write the story, to carve out the memories by ink and to leave behind this passageway through time. You could feel yourself pulled into this vortex, as the war was still being a big component of Allie’s life and where in the present, everything was starting to pull apart the normalcy Lexi had always known. Both of them were on the fringes of a turning point – where they had the chance to see how life could be lived by keeping inclusive the best gift any of us are given whilst we’re alive.

I found myself so wondrously attached to this novel – I could not help but take short breaks from reading it – not even the heavy lightning would steer me outside of it’s grasp – although, mind you, worrying over the destruction the lightning was causing did leave me for a pause! The reason I found the story #unputdownable is because it is the kind of war drama I personally *love!* to discover; a credit to the author Ms Brear! She knows exactly what a reader is seeking out of one of these lovelies especially if it must remain a stand-alone and not a saga! She put so much depth and purpose into her plotting as to give you the belief there is more within these chapters than you might think possible! The joy of course is tucking into her narrative as dearly and sound as Lexi attached herself into Allie’s footsteps – rooting her there – where the past has a quirky way of influencing the present!

Each new war drama I read, eludes to the larger picture – of how many stories can be told due to the variety of perspectives from those who lived through the era of where time stood still. I applaud the authors who continuously give me a hearty good read and are able to bring a new layer of insight into the World War eras without giving me the impression I’ve heard the story beforehand.

The uniqueness for me in this novel is how making the journal the time slip portal allowed me to go forward and backwards through Allie’s memories – seeing how her life affected everything round her and how her life inspired Lexi to find the courage to live her life authentically.

Fly in the Ointment : Note on Content:

As foreshadowed by another reader (whom at this point in time I am regretting to remember!) who talked about this novel, there was a note of concern I felt might come into play to affect my own readings (which I did already mention). Ah, yes, wells the truth of it is my threshold of what I can handle and not handle was crossed – when it comes to medical descriptions, I have a more sensitive heart these days than those of my youth watching ER. Sometimes even the jolts of M*A*S*H surgery scenes would get to me (in my late teens and early twenties) – not for what was ‘seen’ but just the emotional angst of what you knew was happening. I’ve tip-toed through genres I love to read (ie. Cosy Horror, Cosy Historical Mystery, Thriller, Suspense and even Fantasy) recognising that sometimes, these genres can have a hidden secret: scenes which might get uncomfortable for me to read. For the most part – they’re minor and blessedly, in this instance, yes, the scenes were minor – although, I do admit, I did not read them in full! A few words wicked over my line of vision and trust me – it was enough.

Mostly I simply skipped over a paragraph or two, until the procedure appeared to be concluded – similarly, of course, these were the same reasons I Shall Be Near to You (see also Review) made me cringe. Owning to this – there were causal mentions about what was still happening at the field hospital (wells, of sorts, not quite a full hospital more like a triage station) which made me blink a few times (again, I’m more sensitive than most). The good news is I was able to move onward into the text and resume where I left off with Allie and Lexi. They are the reasons I felt so hugged close to the story itself and despite the few issues I had with medical bits, it did not deter me from finishing the novel. It’s a gamble really – especially when I read war dramas and nursing fiction – it’s just a given, there could be inclusions which test me. In regards to Fantasy and other genres, I’d rather avoid reading those stories altogether, as the tendency of these instances being minor (to my findings) are harder to needle out.

I will add further, most of the scenes where Allie was stationed overseas as a nurse reminded me very strongly of the scenes of Rose (from The Silver Locket; see also Review) when she was dealing with the same trains Allie is referencing in her journal. The only slight difference between the two novels would be I found the visuals a bit easier to read in the former whereas I felt some of the visuals in this one pushed me a bit outside where I hoped it would not go.

Also note: the brief appearances of stronger language did not make me flinch – war is brutal and hellish, honestly I’d be shocked more if they hadn’t spoken more strongly! Counter to that, Lexi is in the midst of a terrible row over the promises of marriage and of expectations therein; ergo, sometimes emotions run high and words are spate in spite.

on the dual-timeline style of annemarie brear:

A nod of gratitude to Ms Brear – as generally speaking, I have quite the sensitive heart when it comes to terminal illnesses in fiction, so much, I cannot generally attach myself into those narratives (see also Post). What differed in this novel was both her approach and how she focused in on her character’s intention to ‘tell her story’ if only into the pages of a diary; lest the information she had to impart inside it be lost once death had claimed her body. Allie had such a fierce spirit about her – all-knowing of the truths between life and death; of the living and the striving to overcome the horrors of war whilst humbled to not regret the absence of hours to accomplish what needs doing. She simply set her mind to task and carried it through; there is a lot of courage etched into this novel and it’s how Ms Brear wrote the story, I admired most of all. Champion!

Brear asks a good question – who saves the souls of the medical staff? For they serve the soldiers and wounded but who in return helps to address their own mental health and considerations? Who can help rally their morale (outside of each other) and help them find a way to heal from their battle scars of the psychological kind? I have oft wondered about this myself – as they give so much of themselves, not just in duty and in what they have to face in conditions that are not even prime for medical emergencies but in how they forsake their own health in order to serve others. It’s a credit to those who have the calling (ie. doctors, nurses, orderlies, support staff and even chaplains) who can find raw strength during incredibly adverse conditions.

Likewise, Ms Brear points out how pivotal it is to keep communication open in a marriage – as this novel explores a lot of hard-hitting subjects and topics; from disillusion in marriage to growing apart from your life partner to unexpected pregnancy to Mental Health and potential drug use. She hits on each subject with both grace and tact, allowing the reader to follow along as the lives of her characters either make difficult choices which affect their lives or find a way to muddle through an imperfect present to hopefully get to a more solid future. The honesty throughout the narrative is how sometimes the more you plan for life to go off in one direction, the more oft the variables we cannot see in life will tangle us with unforeseen circumstances. The best anyone can do is remain adaptive and open to the ripples of adversity and to find the patience to work through the difficulties which arise. This can either make or break the person whose going through the situations, which is aptly seen inside the novel.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This book review is courtesy of:

ChocLitUK Reviewer Badge by ChocLitUK.This review was slightly delayed due to intensive lightning storms which not only held within their thunderheads tornadoes but gave firecracker performances! The thickness of the lightning over this weekend’s batch of extreme Summer storms was one for the record books! The twisters blessedly ‘flew over’ but they did pop up and land elsewhere to which I always pray and hope caused no casualties (as living in a region of extreme weather that is a main concern). It’s been a humdinger of a weekend – however, the blessing was how strong the narrative was for me to soak inside – despite the raging storms and the cracklements of pure electric fierceness – I had this beautifully lovely time slip to disappear inside!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

In case you’ve missed my ChocLit readings:

Please follow the threads through #ChocLitSaturdays!

And, visit my ChocLit Next Reads List on Riffle (recently upated!)

to see which stories I fancy to devour next!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Reading ChocLit is a cuppa comfort & joy. You get to ‘return home’ to the stories penned in the beauty of the Romantic genres you love to devour with characters who inspire you & give you such a lift of joy to meet.

The Wedding Diary | No. 5 of the Charton Minster series | by Margaret James (*) (review)

  • Sorting out how to read Charton Minster was a joy of mine! Getting this close to understanding the fuller scope of how the whole series knits together is both exciting and sad! I am not quite ready to ‘let go’ and yet I know I must.

Where Dragonflies Hover | by AnneMarie Brear

Magic Sometimes Happens | No. 6 of the Charton Minster series | by Margaret James (*)

*Part of my focus on serial ChocLit Fiction!*

What shall Jorie pick next to read?! Hmm.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

IF you love chatting about Romance novels, #amwriting adventures and being in a wicked good circle of writers and readers joyfully sharing their writerly & bookish lives, I invite you to join us for #ChocLitSaturday which is an extension of my reviews & guest features on behalf of ChocLitUK! All are welcome! Visit @ChocLitSaturday for more details! Dates are announced for our chats in MAY! Topics will be shared mid-week ahead of the chats!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

PS: Remember to set your calendar: #ChocLitSaturday (@ChocLitSaturday)
is meeting @ 11a NYC / 4p UK on the 15th of JULY
Everyone is welcome: writers & readers alike!

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Where Dragonflies Hover”, author photograph of AnneMarie Brear, book synopsis and Choc Lit Star badge were provided by ChocLitUK and used with permission. Quote from “Where Dragonflies Hover” was selected by Jorie and used with permission of the publisher ChocLitUK. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.  Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: ChocLitSaturdays Banner (Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo). Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination and from the art set I purchased on Etsy by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

I am a social reader | I tweet as I read

You will notice a small gap between when I initially wanted to read this novel and when I actually was able to soak into it’s heart. My allergies were so very beastly this year, they wrecked most of my intentions in regards to what I could read, blog or review throughout the Spring and into June. At long last, I finally found medicine to help me abate the worst effects within the first week of July, which clearly not only gave me much needed relief but also, proved to be the best turnaround! (see also Post)

Comments via Twitter:


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 8 July, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, ChocLitUK, Content Note, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, During WWI, England, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Family Drama, Family Life, Fly in the Ointment, France, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Life Shift, Medical Fiction, Mental Health, Military Fiction, Nurses & Hospital Life, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Story in Diary-Style Format, The World Wars, Time Shift, Time Slip, Unexpected Pregnancy, Vulgarity in Literature, War Drama, War-time Romance, Warfare & Power Realignment, Women's Health

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