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With his future stolen by his brothers' betrayal and the Allied invasion of France looming, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, though all the while believing his fate is to die in battle.
Growing up in an orphanage, Leah Jones longs to rise above her lonely upbringing and find a place to belong. With a job as a librarian at Camp Forrest, she uses her spare time to search for her real family-the baby sisters she was seperated from so long ago.
After Clay saves Leah's life from a brutal attack, he also rescues her virtue by offering her a marriage of convenience. But can their new relationship withstand the trails of grudges, foreboding dreams, and D-day?
Artfully blending emotionally rich romance and historical accuracy with heart-pounding battle scenes.
|Title: The Land Beneath Us #3
By: Sarah Sundin
Number of Pages: 384
Publication Date: 2020
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
Weight: 14 ounces
Series: Sunrise at Normandy
Stock No: WW727997
Can you please tell us about your newest book, The Land Beneath Us?
The first novel in the Sunrise at Normandy series, The Sea Before Us, looked at D-day from the sea through the eyes of US naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton and British “Wren” Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax. In The Sky Above Us, we saw D-day from the air as Lt. Adler Paxton flew his P-51 Mustang fighter plane—and while Red Cross worker Violet Lindstrom served the airmen. Now in The Land Beneath Us, we meet Private Clay Paxton, an Army Ranger wronged by both brothers, and librarian Leah Jones, an orphan searching for her long-lost sisters. We’ll also see another side of the Paxton family and the tragedies that tore them apart and destroyed Clay’s dreams. Clay’s forgiveness is the key to his family’s reconciliation, but is it too much to ask?
Why did you pick D-day as the specific event that connects all three brothers together?
D-day is one of the events of World War II that has most captured the public imagination. The stories that have come out of that day are both harrowing and inspiring, rich material for a novelist. Also, the more I read about D-day, the more impressed I am at how big it was—from the planning, to events on the sea, in the air, and on the ground. I wanted to write a series to show both the immensity and the deeply personal nature of this pivotal event of modern history.
What type of research was required to write The Land Beneath Us?
Each book takes me in new research directions, which I love. For this novel, I read multiple accounts of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the ground operations on D-day. Since Leah is a librarian, I learned about bookish aspects of the war, such as the Victory Book Campaign. Probably the most fun research for me was visiting England, Pointe du Hoc, and Tullahoma, Tennessee. I love walking where my characters walk.
The hero is a US Army Ranger. Why did you choose this profession for him?
On my first trip to Normandy, I was fascinated by Pointe du Hoc and the story of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, which scaled those high cliffs on D-day. The Ranger battalions were established in World War II as elite units of highly trained men, taught to be innovative and flexible, and it was fascinating to learn about their feats!
Your series books usually take place chronologically, but each of the Paxton brothers’ stories occurs simultaneously. Why did you decide to write the series in this particular manner?
This was a unique—and fun—challenge! I wanted to have each brother’s story culminate on D-day, one on the sea, one in the air, and one on the ground, which required simultaneous stories. However, letters between the brothers would have served as spoilers for the later books in the series. But if the brothers
were estranged and not communicating, it would work. This gave me an overarching theme of forgiveness and reconciliation to tie the series together. I have enjoyed exploring this theme from multiple angles.
What do you hope readers can learn from your novel?
Clay Paxton has been betrayed by both brothers, and he feels like the biblical Joseph, cast into a dismal pit with nothing to live for. His story raises a difficult question—how do you forgive the unforgivable? And what does real forgiveness actually look like? I learned a lot along with Clay.
Leah Jones is an orphan who only knows abandonment and rejection. More than anything, she wants family. She wants to belong. In our fractured society, many people feel as lonely and disconnected as Leah does, and I hope her journey is comforting and inspiring.
What are you working on next?
I am very excited about my next novel, which is set in Nazi Germany in 1938, before World War II actually begins. Evelyn Brand is an American correspondent in Munich, determined to expose Nazi oppression. Peter Lang, an American doctoral student disillusioned by the chaos in the world, is impressed by the order and prosperity he sees in Germany. But when brutality hits close, Peter is shaken and begins passing information from his Nazi friends to Evelyn. As tensions rise and war looms, dangers erupt for Peter and Evelyn. Can they learn to trust each other before their world shatters?
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