Isn’t it terrible when everyday life gets in the way of what we love?
When our dreams pile up in the corner as chores, responsibilities, and obligations pull us in different directions?
It’s a terrible excuse for my neglect but know that it was done in the Lord’s timing by His will and not mine.
For the last few months I’ve stolen away a moment or two between work events to get a few pages in of Kate Breslin’s new release, As Dawn Breaks. Until now, I hadn’t had the time I needed – the time the story demanded – to absorb it, immerse myself in it, and learn from it.
It is with great pleasure that I take you through my full review of this book. If you’ve read any of my posts you know that I find it difficult to read a book twice – this one will be added to that coveted list.
There are two out-of-this-world points to bring up about the cover and marketing of this book. The first is that – wow – the cover is amazingly done. Not only does it convey the depths of Rose’s (our heroine’s) despair and longing for a better life, but it also includes something you don’t often see in this genre – photos from the actual environment in which the setting is described.
Those who love historical fiction know that most of the time, the books we read are rooted in truth, but if you look at this cover – and believe me – I nearly missed it – the artist cleverly embedded a photo of the young ladies who actually worked in the munitions factories, giving the cover another layer of validity.
The other accolade on this subject I must give is that I heard about the book on Instagram.
Yep. You read that right.
It’s no secret that the publishing world is changing. I can’t imagine what this market was like thirty years ago – how did a fangirl know that her favorite author was putting out a new book?
(If that last sentence doesn’t scream “Millennial” I don’t know what does).
In fact, that’s where I have been hearing about a lot of the new releases – Instagram. I find that Facebook is good for following authors I love, but Instagram is the place for commercial announcement.
Bravo to Kate Breslin for embracing the new wave of the publishing industry and taking to Instagram by storm – or should I say Dawn?
Plot (If Spoilers Fash Ya, Keepa Scrollin’)
How good is your Scottish Gaelic? Have ya gotta good Scottish Brogue?
If you don’t, reading this book aloud will certainly give you one.
But don’t fash – there was plenty more than just the excellent narrator dialect that makes As Dawn Breaks award-worthy in my book.
To start off, we have an interesting premise – a young woman, Rose Graham, who comes from a wealthy background, is forced into an abusive marriage after she witnesses illegal activity. If she doesn’t comply, her uncle threatens to take it out on her younger brothers. To escape this, she takes a job in a munitions factory hoping to buy herself some peace and time.
But she never intended for her life to implode.
With the help of her friend Tily, who dies in the munitions factory explosion, Rose fakes her own death, assumes the mantle of Tilda Lockhart, a lesser-born orphan who had no family save a “wee dog,” and sets off to do the one thing she knows – munitions.
Along the way, she steals the hearts of her boarding family, the Bairds, who find in her the sister and daughter they all need, and a love interest to their oldest son, Alex, who, much to his own dismay, can’t get her out of his head.
An accolade here that I must mention is that usually these books have a set of antagonists – maybe even a gag or one person who seeks to destroy our heroine’s happiness. Not in this book.
This book has enemies in spades.
First on the list of public enemies in As Dawn Breaks, we have Julien Dexter – Rose’s abusive fiancé and illegal arms aficionado. Kate Breslin must love irony because once you find one nugget of irony in this book, it takes on a combustion reaction of its own and explodes into pieces, bringing more and more dramatic irony. Dexter is after Rose’s money and her uncle’s weapon interest, their pending nuptials proving a lucrative alliance for him. While, Alex Baird, ahem, Captain Alex Baird, would like to beat the man to a pulp for encouraging his brother Ian to pursue a fast woman who ultimately put Ian on an assent to his demise.
Hmm, Rose and Alex share a mutual dislike for Julien… if that doesn’t spell “a match made in Heaven” I don’t know what does.
Then there’s Rhymer – this illusive, mysterious man who sets up pencil bombs in munitions factories and blows them and their surrounding towns to smithereens. Not to mention, he’s allegedly Tily’s brother.
That’s right. Rose assumes Tily’s identity not knowing that Tily’s brother is involved in criminal activity.
Wouldn’t it be funny if Rhymer’s true identity turned out to be someone we’d been reading about for most of the book?
Villains. For. Days.
Irony. For. Days.
It’s a wonder to me that Alex and Rose manage to share a few fantastic moments together amid all the espionage, and death-defying stunts.
I don’t think I’ll ever run out of accolades for this book. Speaking as both an author and an avid reader of the genre myself, one of the reasons I keep coming back to this “Inspirational Historical Fiction” genre, or as it’s called now “Christian Historical Fiction”, is for the love story that is grounded in faith. Sometimes there is more depicted affection between the hero and heroine, but one thing is for sure.
Fellow authors, readers, aspiring novelists in this genre, take a page out of Ms. Breslin’s book (figuratively) – if you’re going to wait until two-thirds if the way into the book for the two main characters to share their first kiss, make sure you’ve laid the foundation for it, and for heaven’s sake, make it a good one. Add some sauce to it – some life – even if it is just a peck on the cheek – but make it a good one. This book proves more than a lot of them in the genre that love – real love – is more than just a kissing show. It’s about sacrifice and putting the other person’s wants, needs, and dreams before your own.
Writing a good heroine is the backbone of a book in the genre, and speaking of sacrifice, Rose Graham and her act of selflessness in taking on the identity of her fallen friend to protect her brothers is just about saintly in my book. To hide behind the guise of her fallen friend – making Tily’s memories her memories – is not only selfless but it’s almost painful. In a time when Rose should have been grieving her best friend, she was busy becoming her best friend. Relying on little more than her Christian faith and the memory of her dear friend, she not only fakes her own death, but ultimately helps the armed forces stop a madman from putting innocent lives in danger and halting the war effort. Rose struggles with bravery in the first half of the book but has it in spades by the end. One of the best parts of the book is watching her stand up to Julien Dexter. Bravo for that again.
Staying Power (I Ken Ya Want More, Aye?)
This book is a stand-alone novel (to my knowledge), but has many opportunities for sequels. Considering there is a whole host of books by Kate Breslin, I can honestly say that I’ll be checking them all out for more than one reason. While it goes without saying that this author has a unique way of expressing things, and a reference lexicon that fans will love – twice she uses the phrase “pierced his soul” no doubt making reference to Jane Austen’s Persuasion in which the hero tells his love “You pierce my soul” – Then again with the reference to Shakespeare’s As You Like It with Alex drawing that parallel between Shakespeare’s heroine and Rose (making us love Alex all the more). Beyond that, Breslin does something that I truly admire and appreciate.
The Bottom Line
Some of you know my publishing story, but what you don’t know is that while my most recently finished novel is not yet published, it was turned down for a number of reasons. We authors don’t like talking about rejection. It makes us look bad, but ultimately, it happens to all authors. Most of my rejections came in the form of “This is great but no one is publishing books about this time period right now. It just doesn’t fit the market currently.” Now, just a few years after that, Kate Breslin has a catalog of books written during my favorite time period – 1914-1919 World War I. Thank you, Ms Breslin, for loaning your readers your imagination, for creating a world for us to thrive in for a little while that both warms our hearts and gives us hope. Congratulations on the release, albeit a little late, and I look forward to your future publications and reading your current catalogue.
Just one question remains – what’s the connection between the title and the book? I won’t fash about it – I’ll simply have to read As Dawn Breaks again.
For more information, or to purchase the book, click here.