Author: Jana Richards
Narrator: Steve Wojtas
Length: 2 hours and 34 minutes
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Released: Aug. 1, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War II, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiance’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.
Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg.
Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist, and in 2018 “Lies and Solace” won Best Contemporary romance in the I Heart Indie contest.
In her life away from writing, Jana is an admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their geriatric Pug/Terrier cross Lou. Jana loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.janarichards.com
For over ten years, Steve Wojtas has voiced everything from audiobooks in the genres of non-fiction, horror, and romance, national television campaigns for Disney and Quicken Loans, to corporate narration for Google, Adobe, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft.
He obtained and MFA in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied speech through Shakespeare. He has appeared at numerous Shakespeare festivals as well as Chicago PD & Chicago Fire on NBC, and Proven Innocent on FOX. He lives in Chelsea, MI with his wife, Shannon, one year old daughter, Lily, and their retired greyhound, Boondocks.
He can be contacted through his website at http://www.stevewojtas.com
Richards did a great job with this novel! I enjoyed the character development and had a lot of laughter while reading it. It was a bit hard to find it come to an end as I felt it was a little short. But overall I had an amazing time with this novel. I give it a 4.5/5 stars.
The narration was smooth without any editing issues I could tell. Loved the voice of the narrator as well! I hope to hear him in future works. 5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jana Richards. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
From Author Jana Richards
My novella, HOME FIRES, tells the story of Anne Wakefield, a young British woman who travels to Canada after World War Two to marry her fiancé. Though Anne and her story are fictional, the phenomena of War Brides is not. Some 48,000 women married Canadian servicemen during the war. The majority of war brides were British, but some came from France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany. Between 1942 and 1947, these women, along with their 22,000 children, traveled to Canada to begin their new lives.
Some were married after quick, whirlwind romances. Others had the luxury of getting to know each other before they tied the knot. But for all these couples, marriage was the only answer. The customs of the day demanded that if they wanted to sleep together, they had to be married. And so they did. The times were perilous with no guarantee of a tomorrow. A sense of urgency compelled them to grab all the happiness they could.
In my story, Anne is not married before she comes to Canada because a wedding couldn’t be arranged before her fiancé was shipped home. Though the majority of war brides were married in England, some were not, and married in Canada instead. These women would have had to pay for their own passage on the war bride ships.
The war brides traveled on special ships, usually former luxury liners like the Queen Mary that had been converted to carrying troops during the war. Depending on the weather during the crossing, and the young woman’s constitution, she either had a wonderful adventure or a miserable, seasick trip. Some made new friends with the other war brides and enjoyed the abundance and quality of the food onboard. Almost every account I read talked about how thrilled they were to be able to eat foods that had been scarce in Britain since the beginning of the war. Simple things like white bread, butter, fruit and eggs were mentioned.
Once they arrived in Halifax, the war brides were directed to special trains that took them to their new homes. For brides whose destination was one of the Maritime Provinces, the train ride was short. But for those who were on their way to the Prairies or the west coast, the train ride took several days. In my story, Anne is destined for Saskatchewan on the Canadian prairies, so her train ride would have been at least five days.
Finally, the war bride would reach her final destination. Her husband or her husband’s family would be there to greet her. In most cases, it was a happy reunion. But not always. I read stories of husbands who told their British wives to go home because they didn’t want them anymore. A friend of mine in her eighties told me of a war bride she knew who was rejected by her husband when she arrived. This is Anne’s experience. By the time she arrives, her fiancé has married someone else.
Despite the often fast courtships and hastily arranged weddings between people from different backgrounds and cultures, the majority of these marriages endured. These marriages and the families that were created helped to build post-war Canada, and are a testament to the strength of character of the war brides.
Character Interview with Erik Gustafson from HOME FIRES
Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiancé’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.
Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg. Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?
Jana Richards: I’m pleased to interview Erik Gustafson from HOME FIRES today. Erik, tell us a little about yourself.
Erik Gustafson: There’s not much to tell. I’m a simple farmer. I work the land and look after my cattle, just like my father before me. I live here on the farm with my mother and sister. We don’t have a lot of money, but we get by.
JR: What about your service in World War Two? What can you tell me about that?
EG: I’d rather not talk about it. It’s over and done.
JR: I can understand why you’re bitter. You were badly injured at Dieppe.
EG: Bitter? No, what I am is angry. Dieppe was an unmitigated disaster. We crossed the English Channel with the mission of raiding the city of Dieppe on the coast of France. They said a successful raid would show the Germans we could walk in anytime we wanted to. We were going to take the city, destroy the harbor, and then withdraw by sea. It was going to be a cake-walk, they said. Too bad they didn’t tell the Germans that. Everything went wrong. Over nine hundred Canadians were killed, and nearly two thousand were taken prisoner. Another couple of thousand were wounded. Like me.
JR: You were nearly killed. You almost lost your leg.
EG: (Looks away) I still could. But at least I’m alive. A lot of men didn’t make it.
JR: Are you angry about the scars on your face too?
EG: I wasn’t much to look at before, but now…
JR: A lot of women still find you handsome.
EG: (laughs) I find that hard to believe. My brother Anders, he’s the one who got all the looks in the family. He got through the war without a scratch.
JR: It’s because of Anders that Anne is here, isn’t it? She was going to marry him.
EG: Yes, she was. (Clenches jaw) He had no business getting involved with her in England when he already had a fiancée at home. He’s put Anne in a terrible position.
JR: Anne is very beautiful, isn’t she?
EG: (Regards Jana warily) Yes, she is. What of it?
JR: Your mother Astrid suggested that rather than go home to England, she stay here and marry you. And she agreed.
EG: She had nothing to go home to. Her family had been killed in the blitz.
JR: Do you think that’s the only reason she’s agreed to stay in Canada? Because she’s lonely?
EG: (Shrugs) She misses her family. She’s become close to my mother and my sister Ingrid in a very short time.
JR: And have you become close to her in the short time she’s been at your farm?
EG: (Averts his gaze) Like you said, Anne is a very beautiful woman. She’s probably the strongest woman I’ve ever known. Did you know she was a nurse during the war?
EG: She looked after people hurt during the blitz in London, people with terrible injuries.
JR: People like you.
EG: Yes, like me. What can I possibly offer her? A life of work on a farm with no modern conveniences, no running water, no electricity, no telephone. And me? I’m no prize as a husband. I have a scarred face and a leg that barely lets me do the farm work. What if I lose my leg? How could I provide for her then?
JR: But she said yes. She said she wants to marry you. She’s seen exactly what life on the farm is like. She knows about your injuries and she knows what could happen, but she said yes anyway. Doesn’t that tell you something?
EG: (shakes his head) I can’t believe…
JR: What can’t you believe?
EG: That she could want me.
JR: What does she have to do to make you believe she loves you and wants to be with you?
EG: (looks away) I don’t know.
JR: Erik, thank you for letting me interview you today. I wish you much love and happiness.
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