Title: WITH EVERY LETTER
Author: Sarah Sundin
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance/WWII
Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse, but it’s an uphill battle. Unaccepted by her peers, she gets transferred to another unit, and even there she is unaccepted. She tries to fit in, but she’s a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, and no one wants to even be her friend. Her nursing supervisor gives her mere weeks to make friends, or she’ll be sent away again, losing her chance to be a flight nurse.
Lt. Tom MacGilliver had an unfortunate childhood, and his peers always made fun of him. As a result he hid his emotions behind a falsely pleasant façade, pretending to be happy even when he’s furious. Service with a smile. But none of the men in his platoon respected him, and he’s in danger of losing his position.
Mellie and Tom begin to write letters anonymously, baring their hearts and souls, but neither knew who the other was in real life. Tom teaches Mellie how to make friends, and she teaches him how to be a leader. But will they ever meet? And if they do, will Tom be appalled by who Mellie is, like every other man? Or will his love for her personality be able to move past her appearance?
WITH EVERY LETTER is the first book in Ms. Sundin’s first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series. The book moves rather slowly at times, leading to skimming, but at times things and people spark and it snared my complete attention.
Mellie is a character that any shy person will identify with. Growing up, I was the shy one, hiding where no one could see me, and viewed as stuck up by my peers. I still struggle with shyness and tend to be quiet around people I don’t know well. Mellie’s character tended to open up old wounds. Tom came across as wimpy at times, and I hoped he’d eventually be able to stand up for himself and be a man.
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About the Book:
Book 1 in the Wings of the Nightingale series
Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she’s never met–even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence–he’s been trying to escape his infamous name for years.
As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?
Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing–and true love.
Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. www.sarahsundin.com
Find out more about Sarah at http://www.sarahsundin.com/.
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An interview with Sarah Sundin,
Author of With Every Letter
Combining a flair for romance with exceptional research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of World War II aviation and nursing in her latest release. With Every Letter (Revell, September 1, 2012, ISBN 978-0800720810, $14.99) launches Sundin’s new Wings of the Nightingale series in which three WWII flight nurses will discover friendship, love, and peril in the skies and on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Sundin shares more about the background and research behind With Every Letter in the interview below.
Q: All of the books in your last series, and your new release, With Every Letter, are set in the World War II era. What draws you to writing books set during the war?
Not only do I love the clothes, uniforms, and music, but there’s an inexhaustible supply of dramatic stories and settings—a novelist’s dream. This was a time when ordinary men had to do extraordinary things, and when women explored non-traditional roles—while remaining ladies. Plus, I’ve always been fond of that generation. As a pharmacy resident at a VA hospital, I had the honor of caring for many World War II veterans. As a rule, they were cheerful, kind, and chivalrous, with the solid strength of someone who has been tested—and passed. What more could you want in a hero?
Q: You went to school and trained to be a pharmacist, in fact, that is still your profession. How did you make the leap to author?
I certainly never planned a writing career. In 2000, I was working on-call as a hospital pharmacist and staying home with our three young children, when I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. That first novel will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started.
However, my pharmacy background has helped me write the Wings of the Nightingale series with its focus on nurses and medical care. Although medications have changed significantly in the past seventy years, the basic concepts remain. Also the hero of the second book in the series, On Distant Shores (June 2013), is an Army pharmacist, so I had fun with that.
Q: Do you enjoy the research process? What were some of the unique aspects of the research for this story?
I adore research. Often I have to force myself to stop and actually write the story. With Every Letter presented unique research challenges. The story is very mobile, since Tom builds airfields just behind the front lines, and Mellie flies into those airfields. There are twenty-five separate settings in With Every Letter, from Kentucky to Liverpool to Algiers to Sicily.
Also, both flight nursing and aviation engineering appealed to me because they don’t get much attention. On the flip side, few research materials are available. I had to do some sleuthing, which led to some fun moments. An obscure website led me to the grandson of an aviation engineer who had served in North Africa. The man sent me a box full of materials—copies of his handwritten narrative, personal letters to his little daughter, and photographs. Priceless!
Q: How historically accurate are your novels (locations and events)? Are the stories based on real people?
I try to make my stories as historically accurate as possible. With Every Letter follows the US Army from the landings in North Africa in November 1942 through the campaign in Sicily in the summer of 1943. The 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron was a real unit that flew the first official air evacuation flights, but all characters and stories are fictional. Tom’s unit is based as closely as possible on the actual 809th Engineer Aviation Battalion. However, the highly mobile nature of this story and my desire to place Tom and Mellie together at certain places and times created a plot nightmare. To save myself hours of therapy, I created the fictional 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion.
Q: Is there a spiritual lesson or analogy within the story you hope readers will walk away with?
Mellie has always seen herself as merciful as she cares for the sick and wounded. But story events stretch her understanding of mercy. Both Tom and Mellie learn new depths to the meaning of forgiveness.
Also, at the start of the story, both Tom and Mellie are uncomfortable in their own skins. They both have to learn to see themselves as God sees them and grow into the people God wants them to be.
Learn more about Sarah Sundin and her books at www.sarahsundin.com. She also invites readers to become a fan onFacebook and follow her on Twitter.