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?
*4 ½ Stars!* “With strong historical detail and superb characters, this may be the best yet. A great read for those who love romance, WWII-era settings or just satisfying stories.”
“In her third WWII-set Christian romance, Sundin skillfully addresses several difficult issues…and invests her protagonists with the resilience of hope born out of faith.”
I sure did! In May 2011, the Experimental Aircraft Association visited Buchanan Field in Concord, California, and I had the privilege of flying in their beautifully restored B-17G, Aluminum Overcast. I’ve enjoyed walking through this plane every year, and then one of my readers, who volunteers with EAA, arranged for me to participate in the media flight. I took a YouTube video of the flight and wrote a blog post describing my experience. It was a rollicking fun ride!
All towns are real, as was the 94th Bombardment Group. In Antioch, I did create fictional businesses and churches for my characters.
Real-life townspeople mentioned in the story include Dr. Dozier and Dr. Libbey, attorney Matthew Ward, and police officer Robin Mandeville. Carmen Dragon did come from Antioch, and he received the Oscar for his orchestration of 1944’s Cover Girl (on the marquee on the book cover).
El Campanil Theatre (pictured on the cover) is real and has been beautifully restored. You can see pictures at http://www.elcampaniltheatre.com.
In the Port Chicago story line, all characters are fictional except for Thurgood Marshall (future Supreme Court justice) and Adm. Carleton Wright. Real-life Eighth Air Force personnel include Col. Charles Dougher, Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle, chaplain William Miller, and Big Band leader Maj. Glenn Miller.
The story of the explosion, the work stoppage, and the mutiny trial is real, although all characters are fictional. The explosion killed 320 men in the largest home front disaster of World War II (I used the figure of 322 men in the novel, because that was the number reported in the press at the time).
Carver Jones is entirely fictitious, but his case is based on two men who had medical excuses for refusing to work but were convicted of mutiny. For a thorough examination of the case, please read Robert Allen’s excellent The Port Chicago Mutiny (Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2006). See also my five-part blog series:
Yes. I found the story in Time Capsule 1945, which contains excerpts from Time Magazine. Of course I had to use it. I found the rest of the details in the Antioch Ledger, and wrote a blog post about it.