Thursday 9 June 2022

Book Review: Acts of Love and War by Maggie Brookes

Acts of Love and War by Maggie Brookes book cover

AD* | 1936. Civil war in Spain. A world on the brink of chaos...

21-year-old Lucy feels content with her life in Hertfordshire - not least because she lives next door to Tom and Jamie, two very different brothers for whom she has equally great affection.

But her comfortable life is turned upside down when Tom decides he must travel to Spain to fight in the bloody Spanish Civil War. He is quickly followed by Jamie who, much to Lucy's despair, is supporting General Franco.

To the dismay of her irascible father, Lucy decides that the only way to bring her boys back safely is to travel to Spain herself to persuade them to come home.

Yet when she sees the horrific effects of the war, she quickly becomes immersed in the lifesaving work the Quakers are doing to help the civilian population, many of whom are refugees.

As the war progresses and the situation becomes increasingly perilous, Lucy realises that the challenge going forward is not so much which brother she will end up with, but whether any of them will survive the carnage long enough to decide...

Acts of Love and War is an immersive story about one young woman and the two men she loves.

Lucy, the main character, is used to living a sheltered life in Hertfordshire under the rule of her strict father. Denied the education she longed to pursue, Lucy instead finds comfort in her close friendship with the two brothers who live next door. 

Tom and Jamie are as different as chalk and cheese. Where Tom is impulsive and fun-loving, Jamie is pious and measured. Despite their differences, however, both brothers find themselves falling for Lucy's charms. 

With the Spanish Civil War hitting Hertfordshire headlines daily, it isn't long before the brothers are off to the frontlines - both resolved to do their bit for opposite sides. Itching for a slice of adventure herself and tussling with her conflicted feelings towards the brothers, Lucy soon follows them to distant Spain. She is determined to bring both brothers home safely.

The level of detail in this book is terrific - a testament to the sheer amount of research the author must have done! From the descriptions of Spanish life to the smallest historical details, all are carefully woven together to create a fascinating reading experience.

Although I loved reading about Lucy's travels and her vital work with the wartime refugees, I struggled to engage with the love triangle aspect of the story. Contrasted with the vivid descriptions of Lucy's work, this fell flat and felt forced. I was uninterested during these sections of the book, and couldn't relate to Lucy as she ummed and ahhed about which brother she preferred. Instead, I would have preferred it to have simply been a journey of discovery for Lucy, shaking off the shackles of her father and gaining her independence abroad. This was a real shame as it put a dampener on what was otherwise an excellent historical novel.

Mixing romance with history, Acts of Love and War is a beautifully written story.

Rating: 3 stars

Acts of Love and War is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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