Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?
Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart? A Distant Melody is the first book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.
Sarah Sundin is an on-call hospital pharmacist and holds a BS in chemistry from UCLA and a doctorate in pharmacy from UC San Francisco. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives in Antioch, California with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.
In Sarah Sundin's war romance novel, Blue Skies Tomorrow, a widow and a naval pilot struggle with personal insecurity and how their inner doubts affect their love for one another. The thought of being unworthy troubles the heroine, and the hero dreads the label of coward. It is not until they individually conquer their fears that the two will be able to have a chance at love.
The novel centers on the developing love between Helen Carlisle, a war widow left to rear a child alone, and Raymond Novak, a lieutenant in the Air Force, who would prefer the title of pastor over pilot. Helen faces the dilemma of breaking free from living in the shadow of her husbands death. Raymond struggles with proving his self-worth not only to others, but to himself as well. A wrench is thrown into their romance when Raymond volunteers to go to the war front, setting aside his pacifistic ideals in order to prove that he is not a coward. Meanwhile, Helen is faced with accepting that her husband's abuse and death were not her fault. Ironically, the story's focus is not on the two falling in love. Rather, it shows both perspectives of the characters' struggles to find the courage within themselves to stand as individuals before standing as a couple.
Physical abuse and its resulting emotional damage are dealt with throughout this novel. The intense scenes and descriptions of the abuse are necessary to understand Helen's reluctance to seek love again, yet these scenes are perhaps too mature for a younger readership.
The story has one flaw, and this problem is two-fold. First, by having the central protagonists of the book as indecisive characters, Sundin runs the risk of confusing the reader. Without a solid path of a focused protagonist, readers are in danger of getting lost in a forest of words. Second, in presenting two characters with extensive flaws, Sundin hits the problem of producing two heroes unlikable to a reading audience.
Nevertheless, Sarah Sundin creates an emotional telling of love in an imperfect settinga story to which many readers will be able to relate. Her novel finishes with a hopeful note that is similar to God's command in Isaiah, "Do not fear, for I am with you." I would recommend this novel to readers looking for a tale of overcoming fear, embracing adventure, and finding and fighting for love. Lucinda Sweazey, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com