Hello reader friends! I am so excited to share today’s book with you. It is a debut novel by the lovely J’nell Ciesielski. Oh my goodness, she is such a sweetheart, and her book is awesome! To be honest, it did not feel like a debut novel to me. If we’re going to be honest, it didn’t feel like a novel to me. I was sucked into the storyline, setting and characters, and there was no coming up for air. Check out the cover below. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it 🙂
ABOUT THE BOOK
The ideal lady wears lace, speaks quietly, and never under any circumstances fixes an automobile. But Gwyn Ruthers has never cared two snaps about being the ideal lady. With the war to end all wars exploding across the English Channel, she leaves behind her restrictive life as a chauffer’s daughter to serve in an all-female ambulance unit in France. She’s not about to let her social status or gender prevent her from serving her country. Not even a handsome captain can distract her from her mission. Most of the time.
Captain William Crawford wouldn’t wish the ravages of war on any man, much less the captivating woman who insists on driving into battle instead of staying safely at home. He can’t deny that the troops need more medical help, but not when it puts innocent women in danger. How can he lead his men against the Jerries while worrying about Gwyn’s safety?
Bound together by circumstances, Gwyn and William can’t stop the love growing between them. Can their relationship survive, or will it become another casualty of war?
Among The Poppies is a brilliantly written debut novel. J’nell Ciesielski has showcased her ability to write historical fiction in a way that will not only hold your attention, but leave you on the tips of your toes wanting more. I applaud the author’s ability to write so vividly that I felt as if I was experiencing the story. I could hear the ambulance trotting down the road, I could feel the breeze, I could smell the foul odor that cames from the injured soldiers, and I could feel the attraction between William and Gwyn. Oh my…..this was one of those couples where I was screaming at the hero – “kiss her already”! I don’t do that often, but these two just got to me. It was almost like this unspoken, forbidden lust. And rightly so, as Gwyn was putting Cecelia’s needs before her own. And as much as I loved the story between William and Gwyn, the novel as a whole was so much more than that. Not once did I feel it was too mushy, or taking away from the war story. It was a perfect balance between war and love.
Gwyn was such a strong heroine, and so easy to root for. She wasn’t afraid to work hard, get her hands dirty, and help out during a crucial and dangerous time in history. I admired her gumption, her willingness to stand her ground, and her ability to every once in a while show her vulnerability, even if in small doses. You can’t help but be swept into her story, and wish you were there instead of Cecelia. Gwyn is one of those characters that I would love to be friends with. We could talk romance, war, cars, engines, and more! And then there is the swoon-worthy William Crawford. Captain Crawford. A man who likes his woman to think outside the box, to hold a conversation with, to go against the grain. So many of our historic heroes want their future spouse to be proper, a lady, and beautiful on the outside. Quite the contrary with William, and I think that held even more appeal for me. Gwyn’s challenging ways called to him instead of making him run. Their story was a story I would love to read more about, even as secondary characters in a future book (hint, hint).
Love story aside, J’nell Ciesielski has brought history to life in this novel. She shows the darkness of the way, but writes it in a way that beckons you to keep reading. To not look away. While staying true to history, she managed to gracefully include the gruesome details, choosing her words carefully as to not scare the reader. Yes, awful things happened. And yes, it was still a little hard to read. But word choice says a lot, and the fact that there was not one scene in which I wanted to shut the book immediately says a lot. I don’t do well with bloody war scenes, in text or on the big screen.
Bottom line – Among the Poppies is a must read for all. It is full of action, wit, romance, and charm. Your fingers will be turning the pages so fast you won’t want to stop. Remember this book, and remember the name J’nell Ciesielski. I hope to see a lot more from her! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a book in my hand. When other girls went to the library to look at the Babysitter’s Club books, my mom found me sitting in the history aisle with a stack of Civil War books, and autobiographies of legends long gone. I loved being transported to other places and times, where men are chivalrous knights to the rescue and women wear big frilly dresses. I’ve always believed I was born in the wrong time period … but I digress.
With my natural curiosity of all things old-fashioned and love of happily ever afters, it was only natural I decided to pen a few of my own.
Born in Florida, I spent the many happy days of childhood running around our large backyard and splashing on the sugar white beaches known only to the Sunshine State. Just before high school, my dad got a job transfer to Texas and a whole new life began. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Psychology the summer of 2005.
Not knowing what else to do with my life, I joined the Air Force. Stationed in Germany I was able to travel to places I’d only dreamed of: France, Austria, Netherlands, England, and my favorite Scotland. I also met my awesome husband while over there. I consider him my consolation prize for the years being forced to wear camouflage and combat boots.
After serving our four years, we now live in Virginia where we’ve been blessed that I can stay home and write all day. Yay! When I’m not writing you can find me baking something with chocolate, making my baby girl laugh, or giving belly rubs to our beagle Daisy.
CONNECT WITH J’NELL