Monday, 20 May 2013

Defiant Heart - Marty Steer

Set during the second world war, a few months before Pearl Harbor is bombed, Jon Meyer arrives in Jackson, Indiana. Losing his parents and brother in a tragic automobile accident, Jon finds himself on the doorstep of his grandmother. It is not a warm welcome.

Nevertheless, the mature highly intelligent sixteen years old starts at the local high school. There he sees the young woman he saw at the 4th July parade - Mary Dahlgren. A beautiful blue-eyed blonde whose intellect has her studying a year above her peers. The attraction is mutual. But Vernon King, the handsome popular (and also a bully) basketball player has other ideas. Mary will be his girl. Adding to the mix is Mary's father, who is also against Jon and his daughter starting anything. He's campaigning to become a US Congressman and their burgeoning relationship is likely to cause an upset to his political career.

Despite these objections, they date - secretly - until one fateful night when Jon is arrested for apparently attacking Mary. He is sent off to war (instead of jail) whilst Mary is sent to the hospital leaving those around her wondering if she'll recover from a coma. As the war intensifies, Jon doesn't forget Mary. He keeps in touch with a friend, Ben Walker, who not only taught Jon how to fly but whose son is also in the army. Ben has the difficult task of telling Jon that Mary has moved on and no longer wants anything to do with him.

Yet not all is as it seems. Mary discovers the truth about the attack and sets out to find Jon overseas. She loves him, he loves her. Will the separation caused by a politically consumed father and war keep these two apart?

Beautifully written, Steere's novel is a love story to define an era. The trials and tribulations that this young couple have to face is tough yet it's their deep affection that motivates them to pursue a relationship. The characters met - Walt, Ben, Grandma Wilson - are well thought out, distinctive and add a completeness to the overall story and both Jon and Mary are extremely likable. Expressive and descriptive, the novel evokes a perfect example of how a love story should be told.

An amazing story that had me going through a range of emotions. Unsure as to whether I would enjoy a historical drama, I nonetheless dove in to find Steere's writing, language and characters created a compelling read. The final few chapters are dramatic with the entire novel completely engaging. A highly recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author to review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique. 

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