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A battlefield promise sends a British soldier on a romantic mission in Ford's debut, a historical that starts strong but meanders toward a muted finale. During the Christmas truce of 1914, Lt. Henry "Hal" Montgomery swaps gifts with a German officer, Wilhelm Wetzlar, who is engaged to Sam Ross, an English schoolteacher. Longing for his great love, Wilhelm asks Hal to search out the woman to tell her he is safe. After a battlefield injury leaves Hal unable to have children, he finds Sam in a village near Stratford and discovers she has recently given birth to Wilhelm's illegitimate child. Hiding the fact that Wilhelm is alive, Hal persuades Sam to move to London and to allow him to be a father figure to the young boy. As the war continues, Hal becomes engaged with espionage work, but can't convince Sam to allow him into her heart. A side trip to Switzerland and a lengthy subplot involving Sam's sisters dampen the tension created by the possible revelation of Hal's secret, and the novel's rushed final moments fail to provide a satisfying finish. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.