Sentimental Journey

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A sweeping adventure of World War II that is truly unforgettable

In a time when ordinary people became heroes, they lived hard, loved hard, and fought hard: Kitty Kincaid must rely on her wits to survive capture by a deadly enemy in a faraway land....U.S. Army officer J.R. Cassidy lives for dangerous missions -- but recusing Kitty nearly costs both their lives....Charlotte Morrison does a man's job, flying planes to Britain's RAF -- while her heart is all woman, and torn ...

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Overview

A sweeping adventure of World War II that is truly unforgettable

In a time when ordinary people became heroes, they lived hard, loved hard, and fought hard: Kitty Kincaid must rely on her wits to survive capture by a deadly enemy in a faraway land....U.S. Army officer J.R. Cassidy lives for dangerous missions -- but recusing Kitty nearly costs both their lives....Charlotte Morrison does a man's job, flying planes to Britain's RAF -- while her heart is all woman, and torn between two lovers....Red Walker, a small-town mechanic, dares to leave his familiar world and fight for his country....Flying ace George "Skip" Inskip carries a burden from the past that only love can heal....On burning sands, in blue skies, and under screaming Nazi bombs, they make their personal journeys. But when fate unites them in a place where duty comes first, they can no longer live only for today -- not if they want to see tomorrow.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This dramatic, passionate story of courage and honor, love and loss is set amid the triumphs and tragedies of the Second World War. A desperate rescue brings together a researcher's daughter, Kitty Kincaid, and J.R. Cassidy, a U.S. Army officer who specializes in impossible missions. During her ordeal in Nazi hands, and the harrowing escape that follows, Kitty proves that while she may be blind, she's anything but helpless -- and Cassidy soon decides that, while he can either lead or follow, he never wants to get out of Kitty's way. Love and war and a passion for flying bring together the unlikely trio of barnstormer's daughter Charley Morrison, Texas mechanic Red Walker, and British flying ace George Inskip. As their fates intertwine, and mesh with Kitty's and Cassidy's, these remarkable men and women fight for the future -- while facing the horrors of war, bearing the burdens of duty, and experiencing all the unexpected glories of love.
Library Journal
In a striking departure from her usual light, funny, often whimsical romances (Wicked), Barnett has penned a riveting, multilayered mainstream novel of heroism, love, and personal growth set against the emotionally charged backdrop of World War II. Fast-paced and turbulent, her story sweeps a quintet of compelling characters from their diverse and separate lives and brings them together in adventure and tragedy, linking them forever in ways they could never have predicted. Witty dialog, a refreshing sprinkle of humor, and well-chosen details of the 1940s lighten this poignant, emotionally involving novel that is definitely mainstream but still spins a series of love stories with enough romantic appeal to please even the most die-hard romance fan. Barnett, a popular New York Times best-selling writer, lives in the Pacific Northwest. This is her hardcover mainstream debut. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Barnett debuts in hardcover with a historical romance set before and behind Nazi lines during WWII. The center of our attention is one Kitty Kincaid, the daughter of a renowned American scientist and an important figure in nuclear research herself. Traveling through Morocco in disguise, Kitty is recognized and kidnapped by Vichy police, who promptly turn her over to the German intelligence units that are trying just then to get a little help for some nuclear projects of their own. Her absence is quickly noticed, however, and wheels begin to turn in Washington, London, Libya, and Los Alamos. Although the full story is still rather hush-hush, there's no harm in saying that the OSS involved itself in a big way, as did MI5. Naturally, the RAF and the US air forces had to be brought in, since Kitty was taken well behind enemy lines. This involved the services of a number of colorful characters-not the least of them being girl pilot Charlotte Morrison, who is authorized only to ferry only craft for the RAF but takes on a good deal more responsibility on her own authority. Also on hand are handsome Americans J.R. Cassidy and Red Walker. If all is fair in war, the same goes for love, right? Who will get to bring Kitty home? Formulaic and unsurprising, but well-paced and briskly told.
From the Publisher
Kristin Hannah, author of Summer Island Sentimental Journey is everything the title promises — an epic love story and a riveting adventure.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, author of This Heart of Mine An unforgettable novel that brings to life the Greatest Generation...Love stories don't get any bigger, bolder, or better than this.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786236381
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/1902
  • Edition description: LARGEPRINT
  • Pages: 741
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Barnett is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen acclaimed novels and short stories. There are more than five million copies of her books in print in seventeen languages. Her work has earned her a place on such national bestseller lists as The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Visit her website at www.jillbarnett.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Libyan Desert

October 11

There's no rhyme or reason as to how the mind of a soldier works in battle. Men holed up in a farmhouse will cook dinner in the middle of a sniper attack, setting the table with a checkered cloth and folded napkins, a platter of sliced fruit and cheese sitting in the center, like they were chefs in some Italian joint back home. You find that you don't think they're nuts for longer than that first stunned moment, that one second of rational thought in a place where hell's a-popping and nothing makes sense.

If there's no guarantee of a tomorrow, you need normalcy to ground you. And it's then you realize that maybe those cookin' fools have got a helluva good idea. You sit yourself down with them and stuff your face, while the whole damn war is going on around you.

You see a soldier fall into a ditch of mud and dead men, then come crawling out more worried about the photographs in his wallet than about cleaning his rifle. It sounds insane, but when you have the chance to, you squat behind a tree, bullets flying around you, and there, behind that tree, for just one second, you pull out your own wallet and flip open the pictures.

In a bar or at a canteen dance, when some dame finds out you've been in combat, she asks questions like, "Before a battle, do you think about heaven?"

No.

"Do you think about dying?"

No. You're too damn afraid to. You might jinx yourself. You decide early on that no matter how much the enemy shoots at you, you'll be damned if you're going to get hit.

Kitty asked one night, "Don't you ever get scared?"

Everyone gets scared. Fear keeps you alive. But once you see the enemy, you don't have much time to be afraid. Or to think about it. The truth is, it's fear of the unknown that really gets you.

She understood. She lived with that kind of fear every waking minute. Maybe that was the night they fell in love, when they were alone, spilling their guts to each other, thinking life made no sense because they were damn near freezing to death in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

Just like now.

He was back in North Africa, in the desert again just before dawn, where it was still and quiet. The sand was hard and bare and so cold it was like lying on snow.

Through a perimeter of wooden crossed-stakes and entangled wire stood his objective — a bowl of Axis trouble hollowed out of an endless range of sand dunes in the Libyan desert. Dim lights downlit the corners of the buildings and the northeast side of the compound, where a convoy of trucks and tanks were lined up for fueling at first light.

From here it looked like a movie set, the type of place Gary Cooper stormed in Beau Geste. But this was 1942, a different time, a different war. This was real.

In less than ten minutes, Allied mission Foxfire would begin. Their job: to infiltrate Rommel's compound. Ten minutes after that, they would blow everything sky-high: the compound, the largest Deutsches Afrika Korps supply dump in the desert, and the Jadgwaffe's airfield.

He checked his watch...every few minutes.

Time moved at glacial speed. Seconds and minutes — measurements of a lifetime that have little meaning by themselves.

He waited. Tense. Edgy. Until 0400.

This was it.

He clipped a hole in the wire and moved forward, shimmying down a dune and up over another like some kind of desert viper.

"Halt!"

He froze at the edge of the dunes, half afraid to look up because he didn't know if he would be staring into the barrel of a Kar98k or if the voice he'd heard had carried up from below.

Lt. Colonel J.R. Cassidy raised his head slowly to find he was alone in the dunes.

But below and from out of nowhere, a troop of armed soldiers ran all over the compound. Spotlights sliced through darkness, sudden and glaring. The place lit up like a ball field in October.

Rommel's men had been waiting for them.

U.S. Army Air Force Captain Red Walker set the last charge on the supply bunker, grabbed his munitions pack and rifle, then slung each over a shoulder. He moved quietly along the concrete edges of the supply building. At the east corner, he stopped before making a cold run for it. He'd seen men lay their charges, then act like jackrabbits and get their fool heads shot off.

A hundred feet of open space stood between him and the cover from a stack of Nazi oil drums. He had four minutes to get to the airfield before everything blew. Four minutes that could feel like a lifetime, or an instant.

A German officer stood in the middle of the yard, between him and those barrels. Red could try to take him out, but that was chancy. The guy was standing in the middle of the compound.

Red pulled back and checked the time, then leaned his head against the building and waited. Overhead was a clear night sky that sucked all the day's heat from the loose desert sand. The air was cold as ice. Twenty-two degrees had been predicted at the final briefing. Yet here he was sweating.

Nothing made much sense anymore. War changed things. Everything. The whole goddamn world felt upside-down, sideways, and jackass-backwards. For years all he'd wanted was to get out of Acme, Texas. But here he was in the middle of the desert, blowing up the compound of a man he'd never seen, an enemy from a place as far away from Wilbarger County as a rattlesnake was from the North Pole.

He waited a few more minutes, then stared out past the perimeter at the desert beyond and mile after mile of nothing but sand dunes.

Hell...and people said West Texas was an armpit.

He checked his watch again, then wiped away the sweat that trickled into his eyes. His mouth was drier than week-old bread. For just an instant, he thought about a big old Texas-sized glass of tea, sweetened with a handful of white sugar and poured over two handfuls of ice...about bluebonnets growing beside the road and the clean smell of a woman who washed her hair with lemon.

He shook his head and shifted, then looked around the corner.

The officer hadn't moved.

Three minutes.

Should he run? He eased back, chewed it over. He'd wait. Once his charges blew, it wouldn't matter if he had to fire his rifle. It wouldn't matter if he fired a two-ton ack-ack. It would be too late. The den of the Fox would be on fire.

Cassidy had been on a dozen of these missions. He claimed the difference between living and dying was in the timing. He'd said it to Red and others over and over. Time it exactly. If you rush, you die. If you wait too long, someone else dies.
par

Instinct screamed inside Red's head, Go, go, go! Get out of there! He asked himself how much of that instinct was fueled by panic. Panic could kill you or make you a hero, depending on how the chips fell. But thinking clearly, well, Cassidy said that was what saved your sweet ass.

The soldier in him checked his watch again.

Thirty seconds more.

He began to mentally count it off.

Twenty-eight...

Twenty-five...

Twenty-two...

Twenty seconds.

"Halt!"

Sweet Jesus....

The order was distant, as if it came from the truck depot. But sound carried in the desert like it did over water.

Compound spotlights came on as white and blinding as the Texas sun in July. Enemy soldiers ran out from the shadows. One of them was heading right toward him.

Next to the compound, a German bomber, a Junkers 88P, taxied down the narrow desert airstrip past a line of burning Messerschmitts, ME 109s. A smoking Panzer tank blocked the end of the runway. Two more planes blew up, Stukas, now nothing but flames flaring into the air.

The JU turned sharply; it was the only aircraft on the field left in one piece, and it was moving toward the compound.

An armored car marked with the Deutsches Afrika Korps palm tree and mounted with a machine gun came speeding in from the road and raced by the plane, the soldiers inside the vehicle motioning to the pilot to follow them.

The car careened in front of the bomber, leading the way, so the pilot slowed the plane a notch and moved in directly behind the machine gunner; they both headed for an Allied half-track stalled a few hundred feet away.

The Junkers's nose guns swiveled, sighting a target.

Too high.

The pilot shoved forward on the yoke, hit the brakes, and powered the tail; then he pressed down on the trigger and fired so many deadly rounds there was a gaping hole in the Korps vehicle where the palm tree and swastika had once been.

British Royal Air Force Pilot Commander George "Skip" Inskip released the trigger button and reduced power. The tail of the plane dropped back to the ground with a jar that would have rattled his teeth if they hadn't been clenched so damned tight. He looked ahead of him and taxied the plane closer toward the fence, on solid ground between the airfield and the supply dump.

There was chaos in the compound. Smoke and fire.

Am I the only one left?

That was a balmy thought, and not bloody likely. Along for the ride today were the Long Range Desert Group, those Desert Rats who gave Rommel hell; the SIG, experts who made successes of suicide missions; and the Yanks, two of them, commando-trained and specially picked by the OSS. Cassidy was a miracle-working scrounger who had a reputation for doing the impossible, and Walker, an ex-Air Corps pilot, sharpshooter, and demolitions expert, a tall, quiet Texan who hated Skip with everything he had in him.

Perhaps Walker had already corked it.

On some level, Skip understood Walker's hatred of him. He just didn't care. Charley would say he had to feel something deep down inside, but then Charley still believed he was square and aboveboard.

Skip looked ahead. The compound was burning, the fuel depot destroyed. And they had a dog's chance of getting out.

A moment later a man burst through an orange wall of fire and smoke. The soldier disappeared under the plane's wing before Skip could get a look at him.

The belly door of the JU suddenly opened. Hot air and smoke blew into the cockpit.

Hell....

Skip pulled his revolver, an Enfield No.2MK, and turned, one hand still on the controls.

"Don't shoot, you limey son of a bitch, or you'll have to explain to Charley that you were the one who killed me." Red Walker pulled himself up and inside, then rolled into the cockpit and strapped into the copilot's seat.

Skip shoved the gun back into his holster. "Where's Cassidy?"

"Last time I spotted him he was crawling down into the bunker. But that was before the whole thing SNAFU'd." Walker paused, looking around them. "Where are you taking this thing? The airfield is back that way."

"Tanks are blocking the runway. The place is lit up like a parade ground. I'm heading for the macadam," Skip said. "The airfield's useless." He gave the plane too much power and hit the road too fast. Beast of a machine was heavier than the fighters he was used to.

"Stop!" Walker was half turned in his seat looking out the glass. "I see Cassidy! He lost his helmet. I can see his blond head!"

"Most of the bloody Afrika Korps have blond heads."

"It was him."

"Did you plant the charges to blow both bunkers?" Skip kept going.

"Yes."

"Did the command bunker blow?"

"Yes."

"Did you see Cassidy get out?"

"No, but I was a little busy with about half a platoon of mad-as-hell Jerries. Cassidy got out. He always gets out."

Skip checked the time and kept going. "We were supposed to be out of here five minutes ago. Cassidy isn't here. The bunker's gone. This mission has had it." It looked like hell was coming up to meet them. Everything was burning. "Look!"

Walker glanced back out the window.

"We've done what damage we can to this place. I'm taking this plane up now." Skip reached for the throttle switch.

A pistol cocked next to his temple, the cold ring of the barrel pressed into his skin.

"No," Walker said quietly. "You're going to wait."

"I could kill you for this."

"By golly, you sure could."

"If I report your actions, your army would have you court-martialed."

Walker shrugged. "I could pull this trigger and there wouldn't be a report or a court-martial."

Skip laughed bitterly. "Just a mess in the cockpit, right?"

"Right...as you Brits always say...a bloody mess." Walker checked his watch. Tension hung between them, second after second after second. He looked out the window, but apparently saw no one, because he checked his watch again. He faced Skip but didn't move the gun. "Three minutes more. If Cassidy isn't here, you can hit the throttle for all she's worth."

Skip braked, then sat there, arms resting on the yoke, waiting.

d

Walker didn't drop the gun.

"I'll give Cassidy three minutes, but pull the gun away from my head."

"I was pretty darn young when my granddaddy taught me not to walk around the backside of a pissed-off mule, least not 'less I want to get my marbles kicked to hell and back. I'll just keep this gun right where it is for now."

From the compound, the sound of gunfire echoed back at them, ticking off time in sputtering rounds of ammo shells. It was quite amusing, really, him sitting there next to Red Walker, allies in spirit and duty, but enemies at heart, the barrel of a .32 caliber pistol against his head and the trigger held by the one man who truly wanted him dead.

He glanced at Walker, who wasn't smiling, but then the Yanks and the British didn't share the same sense of humor. Walker kept watching out the window for Cassidy. So Skip sat there, the smell of fuel and the taste of fire seeping slowly inside the cockpit until it was in every breath he took and his lungs felt tight and full.

He checked his watch. "Time's up."

Red swore one of those off-colored Texas colloquialisms, but he kept his word and holstered the pistol.

"These bloody gauges are unreadable." Skip moved the JU forward. He looked at the short strip of road ahead, the only level spot before the road humped up and down the dunes too deeply for a takeoff. He didn't have time to think. He just powered up and went for it.

"Goddammit, Inskip!" Red was leaning out the window. "Shitfire and hell! There's Cassidy! He's running just behind us!" He pulled his head back inside and glared at Skip. "Look for yourself!"

The engine noise was so loud Skip could barely hear him.

"Look, Inskip! It's Cassidy!" Red turned back. "Run, Colonel! Run!"

"If I stop now, we won't make it!" Skip saw Red turn and look at the gauges, then up at the road ahead. Red was a pilot. He could see the short length of level road.

Swearing, Red unbuckled, crawled out of his seat, and slid down into the belly of the plane.

A second later Skip heard the belly door drop open and a blast of air hit the back of his head.

J.R. jumped the fence, picked up an MP40, and fired. He had seen Walker hanging out the cockpit of the bomber, shouting, but J.R. kept firing until there was nothing to fire at. Inskip had to be behind the controls of that plane.

Damn....He was late. Those two should have left already.

J.R. spun around. Smoke and fire were everywhere. He turned eastward, weapon poised and ready. But there were no enemy troops, just the British Desert Rats in an armored car, hanging on to their seats, guns firing as they sped away and disappeared over the dunes as if they had been a mirage.

He turned again.

No one was coming at him. Hell, he might just make it. He looked back. The bomber was moving down the blacktop road, its Jumo engines roaring to life. J.R. took off after it.

Running...running...running.

He was close, then closer.

He pumped his arms and legs.

"Run, Colonel! Run!" Walker was hanging out the plane door. He gripped the side of the plane and extended his hand.

He was still a few feet away.

Faster! Faster! Faster! I can make it! I can!

Bullets suddenly ate the ground behind him.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

The bullets sounded like popcorn. Firecrackers. Cap guns. They never sounded real. They never sounded like they could kill you.

Copyright © 2002 by Jill Barnett Stadler

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First Chapter

Chapter One: Libyan Desert

October 11

There's no rhyme or reason as to how the mind of a soldier works in battle. Men holed up in a farmhouse will cook dinner in the middle of a sniper attack, setting the table with a checkered cloth and folded napkins, a platter of sliced fruit and cheese sitting in the center, like they were chefs in some Italian joint back home. You find that you don't think they're nuts for longer than that first stunned moment, that one second of rational thought in a place where hell's a-popping and nothing makes sense.

If there's no guarantee of a tomorrow, you need normalcy to ground you. And it's then you realize that maybe those cookin' fools have got a helluva good idea. You sit yourself down with them and stuff your face, while the whole damn war is going on around you.

You see a soldier fall into a ditch of mud and dead men, then come crawling out more worried about the photographs in his wallet than about cleaning his rifle. It sounds insane, but when you have the chance to, you squat behind a tree, bullets flying around you, and there, behind that tree, for just one second, you pull out your own wallet and flip open the pictures.

In a bar or at a canteen dance, when some dame finds out you've been in combat, she asks questions like, "Before a battle, do you think about heaven?"

No.

"Do you think about dying?"

No. You're too damn afraid to. You might jinx yourself. You decide early on that no matter how much the enemy shoots at you, you'll be damned if you're going to get hit.

Kitty asked one night, "Don't you ever get scared?"

Everyone gets scared. Fear keeps you alive. But once you see the enemy, you don't have much time to be afraid. Or to think about it. The truth is, it's fear of the unknown that really gets you.

She understood. She lived with that kind of fear every waking minute. Maybe that was the night they fell in love, when they were alone, spilling their guts to each other, thinking life made no sense because they were damn near freezing to death in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

Just like now.

He was back in North Africa, in the desert again just before dawn, where it was still and quiet. The sand was hard and bare and so cold it was like lying on snow.

Through a perimeter of wooden crossed-stakes and entangled wire stood his objective—a bowl of Axis trouble hollowed out of an endless range of sand dunes in the Libyan desert. Dim lights downlit the corners of the buildings and the northeast side of the compound, where a convoy of trucks and tanks were lined up for fueling at first light.

From here it looked like a movie set, the type of place Gary Cooper stormed in Beau Geste. But this was 1942, a different time, a different war. This was real.

In less than ten minutes, Allied mission Foxfire would begin. Their job: to infiltrate Rommel's compound. Ten minutes after that, they would blow everything sky-high: the compound, the largest Deutsches Afrika Korps supply dump in the desert, and the Jadgwaffe's airfield.

He checked his watch...every few minutes.

Time moved at glacial speed. Seconds and minutes—measurements of a lifetime that have little meaning by themselves.

He waited. Tense. Edgy. Until 0400.

This was it.

He clipped a hole in the wire and moved forward, shimmying down a dune and up over another like some kind of desert viper.

"Halt!"

He froze at the edge of the dunes, half afraid to look up because he didn't know if he would be staring into the barrel of a Kar98k or if the voice he'd heard had carried up from below.

Lt. Colonel J.R. Cassidy raised his head slowly to find he was alone in the dunes.

But below and from out of nowhere, a troop of armed soldiers ran all over the compound. Spotlights sliced through darkness, sudden and glaring. The place lit up like a ball field in October.

Rommel's men had been waiting for them.


U.S. Army Air Force Captain Red Walker set the last charge on the supply bunker, grabbed his munitions pack and rifle, then slung each over a shoulder. He moved quietly along the concrete edges of the supply building. At the east corner, he stopped before making a cold run for it. He'd seen men lay their charges, then act like jackrabbits and get their fool heads shot off.

A hundred feet of open space stood between him and the cover from a stack of Nazi oil drums. He had four minutes to get to the airfield before everything blew. Four minutes that could feel like a lifetime, or an instant.

A German officer stood in the middle of the yard, between him and those barrels. Red could try to take him out, but that was chancy. The guy was standing in the middle of the compound.

Red pulled back and checked the time, then leaned his head against the building and waited. Overhead was a clear night sky that sucked all the day's heat from the loose desert sand. The air was cold as ice. Twenty-two degrees had been predicted at the final briefing. Yet here he was sweating.

Nothing made much sense anymore. War changed things. Everything. The whole goddamn world felt upside-down, sideways, and jackass-backwards. For years all he'd wanted was to get out of Acme, Texas. But here he was in the middle of the desert, blowing up the compound of a man he'd never seen, an enemy from a place as far away from Wilbarger County as a rattlesnake was from the North Pole.

He waited a few more minutes, then stared out past the perimeter at the desert beyond and mile after mile of nothing but sand dunes.

Hell...and people said West Texas was an armpit.

He checked his watch again, then wiped away the sweat that trickled into his eyes. His mouth was drier than week-old bread. For just an instant, he thought about a big old Texas-sized glass of tea, sweetened with a handful of white sugar and poured over two handfuls of ice...about bluebonnets growing beside the road and the clean smell of a woman who washed her hair with lemon.

He shook his head and shifted, then looked around the corner.

The officer hadn't moved.

Three minutes.

Should he run? He eased back, chewed it over. He'd wait. Once his charges blew, it wouldn't matter if he had to fire his rifle. It wouldn't matter if he fired a two-ton ack-ack. It would be too late. The den of the Fox would be on fire.

Cassidy had been on a dozen of these missions. He claimed the difference between living and dying was in the timing. He'd said it to Red and others over and over. Time it exactly. If you rush, you die. If you wait too long, someone else dies.

Instinct screamed inside Red's head, Go, go, go! Get out of there! He asked himself how much of that instinct was fueled by panic. Panic could kill you or make you a hero, depending on how the chips fell. But thinking clearly, well, Cassidy said that was what saved your sweet ass.

The soldier in him checked his watch again.

Thirty seconds more.

He began to mentally count it off.

Twenty-eight...

Twenty-five...

Twenty-two...

Twenty seconds.

"Halt!"

Sweet Jesus....

The order was distant, as if it came from the truck depot. But sound carried in the desert like it did over water.

Compound spotlights came on as white and blinding as the Texas sun in July. Enemy soldiers ran out from the shadows. One of them was heading right toward him.


Next to the compound, a German bomber, a Junkers 88P, taxied down the narrow desert airstrip past a line of burning Messerschmitts, ME 109s. A smoking Panzer tank blocked the end of the runway. Two more planes blew up, Stukas, now nothing but flames flaring into the air.

The JU turned sharply; it was the only aircraft on the field left in one piece, and it was moving toward the compound.

An armored car marked with the Deutsches Afrika Korps palm tree and mounted with a machine gun came speeding in from the road and raced by the plane, the soldiers inside the vehicle motioning to the pilot to follow them.

The car careened in front of the bomber, leading the way, so the pilot slowed the plane a notch and moved in directly behind the machine gunner; they both headed for an Allied half-track stalled a few hundred feet away.

The Junkers's nose guns swiveled, sighting a target.

Too high.

The pilot shoved forward on the yoke, hit the brakes, and powered the tail; then he pressed down on the trigger and fired so many deadly rounds there was a gaping hole in the Korps vehicle where the palm tree and swastika had once been.

British Royal Air Force Pilot Commander George "Skip" Inskip released the trigger button and reduced power. The tail of the plane dropped back to the ground with a jar that would have rattled his teeth if they hadn't been clenched so damned tight. He looked ahead of him and taxied the plane closer toward the fence, on solid ground between the airfield and the supply dump.

There was chaos in the compound. Smoke and fire.

Am I the only one left?

That was a balmy thought, and not bloody likely. Along for the ride today were the Long Range Desert Group, those Desert Rats who gave Rommel hell; the SIG, experts who made successes of suicide missions; and the Yanks, two of them, commando-trained and specially picked by the OSS. Cassidy was a miracle-working scrounger who had a reputation for doing the impossible, and Walker, an ex-Air Corps pilot, sharpshooter, and demolitions expert, a tall, quiet Texan who hated Skip with everything he had in him.

Perhaps Walker had already corked it.

On some level, Skip understood Walker's hatred of him. He just didn't care. Charley would say he had to feel something deep down inside, but then Charley still believed he was square and aboveboard.

Skip looked ahead. The compound was burning, the fuel depot destroyed. And they had a dog's chance of getting out.

A moment later a man burst through an orange wall of fire and smoke. The soldier disappeared under the plane's wing before Skip could get a look at him.

The belly door of the JU suddenly opened. Hot air and smoke blew into the cockpit.

Hell....

Skip pulled his revolver, an Enfield No.2MK, and turned, one hand still on the controls.

"Don't shoot, you limey son of a bitch, or you'll have to explain to Charley that you were the one who killed me." Red Walker pulled himself up and inside, then rolled into the cockpit and strapped into the copilot's seat.

Skip shoved the gun back into his holster. "Where's Cassidy?"

"Last time I spotted him he was crawling down into the bunker. But that was before the whole thing SNAFU'd." Walker paused, looking around them. "Where are you taking this thing? The airfield is back that way."

"Tanks are blocking the runway. The place is lit up like a parade ground. I'm heading for the macadam," Skip said. "The airfield's useless." He gave the plane too much power and hit the road too fast. Beast of a machine was heavier than the fighters he was used to.

"Stop!" Walker was half turned in his seat looking out the glass. "I see Cassidy! He lost his helmet. I can see his blond head!"

"Most of the bloody Afrika Korps have blond heads."

"It was him."

"Did you plant the charges to blow both bunkers?" Skip kept going.

"Yes."

"Did the command bunker blow?"

"Yes."

"Did you see Cassidy get out?"

"No, but I was a little busy with about half a platoon of mad-as-hell Jerries. Cassidy got out. He always gets out."

Skip checked the time and kept going. "We were supposed to be out of here five minutes ago. Cassidy isn't here. The bunker's gone. This mission has had it." It looked like hell was coming up to meet them. Everything was burning. "Look!"

Walker glanced back out the window.

"We've done what damage we can to this place. I'm taking this plane up now." Skip reached for the throttle switch.

A pistol cocked next to his temple, the cold ring of the barrel pressed into his skin.

"No," Walker said quietly. "You're going to wait."

"I could kill you for this."

"By golly, you sure could."

"If I report your actions, your army would have you court-martialed."

Walker shrugged. "I could pull this trigger and there wouldn't be a report or a court-martial."

Skip laughed bitterly. "Just a mess in the cockpit, right?"

"Right...as you Brits always say...a bloody mess." Walker checked his watch. Tension hung between them, second after second after second. He looked out the window, but apparently saw no one, because he checked his watch again. He faced Skip but didn't move the gun. "Three minutes more. If Cassidy isn't here, you can hit the throttle for all she's worth."

Skip braked, then sat there, arms resting on the yoke, waiting.

Walker didn't drop the gun.

"I'll give Cassidy three minutes, but pull the gun away from my head."

"I was pretty darn young when my granddaddy taught me not to walk around the backside of a pissed-off mule, least not 'less I want to get my marbles kicked to hell and back. I'll just keep this gun right where it is for now."

From the compound, the sound of gunfire echoed back at them, ticking off time in sputtering rounds of ammo shells. It was quite amusing, really, him sitting there next to Red Walker, allies in spirit and duty, but enemies at heart, the barrel of a .32 caliber pistol against his head and the trigger held by the one man who truly wanted him dead.

He glanced at Walker, who wasn't smiling, but then the Yanks and the British didn't share the same sense of humor. Walker kept watching out the window for Cassidy. So Skip sat there, the smell of fuel and the taste of fire seeping slowly inside the cockpit until it was in every breath he took and his lungs felt tight and full.

He checked his watch. "Time's up."

Red swore one of those off-colored Texas colloquialisms, but he kept his word and holstered the pistol.

"These bloody gauges are unreadable." Skip moved the JU forward. He looked at the short strip of road ahead, the only level spot before the road humped up and down the dunes too deeply for a takeoff. He didn't have time to think. He just powered up and went for it.

"Goddammit, Inskip!" Red was leaning out the window. "Shitfire and hell! There's Cassidy! He's running just behind us!" He pulled his head back inside and glared at Skip. "Look for yourself!"

The engine noise was so loud Skip could barely hear him.

"Look, Inskip! It's Cassidy!" Red turned back. "Run, Colonel! Run!"

"If I stop now, we won't make it!" Skip saw Red turn and look at the gauges, then up at the road ahead. Red was a pilot. He could see the short length of level road.

Swearing, Red unbuckled, crawled out of his seat, and slid down into the belly of the plane.

A second later Skip heard the belly door drop open and a blast of air hit the back of his head.


J.R. jumped the fence, picked up an MP40, and fired. He had seen Walker hanging out the cockpit of the bomber, shouting, but J.R. kept firing until there was nothing to fire at. Inskip had to be behind the controls of that plane.

Damn....He was late. Those two should have left already.

J.R. spun around. Smoke and fire were everywhere. He turned eastward, weapon poised and ready. But there were no enemy troops, just the British Desert Rats in an armored car, hanging on to their seats, guns firing as they sped away and disappeared over the dunes as if they had been a mirage.

He turned again.

No one was coming at him. Hell, he might just make it. He looked back. The bomber was moving down the blacktop road, its Jumo engines roaring to life. J.R. took off after it.

Running...running...running.

He was close, then closer.

He pumped his arms and legs.

"Run, Colonel! Run!" Walker was hanging out the plane door. He gripped the side of the plane and extended his hand.

He was still a few feet away.

Faster! Faster! Faster! I can make it! I can!

Bullets suddenly ate the ground behind him.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

The bullets sounded like popcorn. Firecrackers. Cap guns. They never sounded real. They never sounded like they could kill you.

Copyright © 2002 by Jill Barnett Stadler

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2003

    What an outstanding read!

    I was deployed to Iraq during the very start of the war when this book cam across me in a care package donated from U.S citizens. I'm not into books like these but once I started I could not stop. You should have seen the looks I was given by fellow troops as I read it from time to time. I think the cover gave them a sense of curiosity. To see me, kevlar helmet body armor, and weapon reading a romance novel! I didn't care one bit. I finished the book and somehow lost it in the hustle and bustle of wartime. I forgot the name and author but wanted to buy it once I got back. Went to a local bookstore and spent about 2 hours searching before finding it. Thanks to whoever generously placed it in that box of cookies and candy and sent it to Iraq because it made this troop happy.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006

    OUTSTANDING

    I COULDN'T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. I CRIED. I GOT MAD. I EVEN LAUGHED. I LOVED THE CHARCTERS. THIS BOOK IS RIGHT UP THERE WITH GONE WITH THE WIND.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2002

    A Treasure Trove of Sentimental Feelings

    Jill has done it again. Oh not in her usual style, but the wit and flow of her writing style is still there. I absolutely devoured the book and fell in love with the characters. The journey was so in depth that I still feel my heart pound and ache when something clicks with the memory of what I just read. Jill once again you have showed us all the magic and timelessness of love. Thank You for sharing your talent with us.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2001

    ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT

    Once in a very great while there comes along a book so magnificent every word of praise seems trite ¿ no word can give it justice. SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY is one such book. Jill Barnett, well known for her humorous, yet poignant, historical romances, completely redefines herself in this spectacular story of love and loss set during the early days of World War II. Opening with an action scene, SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY is reminiscent of Robert Ludlum, one of fiction¿s all-time masters. It also brings to mind such classic books as BATTLE CRY by Leon Uris and even FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS by Hemingway. After the opening scene, Barnett takes us back in time where the reader is introduced to each of the main characters including: Kitty Kincaid as she tries to outrun the Gestapo; JR Cassidy the gutsy young American Army Captain sent on an usual mission; Charlotte (Charley) Morrison, daughter of a barnstormer and famous aircraft designer whose flying prowess eventually enables her to join an elite group of women; William ¿Red¿ Morrison, the young Texan who always wanted more adventure than he¿d find running a gas station in west Texas; and George ¿Skip¿ Inskip, the RAF flying ace whose becomes a reluctant national hero following a personal tragedy. In chapters following, readers get a glimpse of the lives of these brave young men and women until their stories eventually intertwine and fate brings them together. Barnett has chosen to tell her story in short chapters, each of which bear the title of a popular song from the era ¿ a very effective method which not only describes what is happening in that particular chapter but will have the reader humming many of the old standards. This is an emotional story skillfully told and is sure to make Barnett into a major star in the world of fiction. Her three-dimensional characters and exciting action place the reader firmly in the scenes. This is a story which will be enjoyed equally by men and women as evidenced in this reviewer¿s own household. Barnett has done what would seem impossible ¿ effectively melding the best of women¿s fiction and men¿s action adventure together. This book was at once nearly impossible to put down and one this reviewer wanted to savor forever. And even though words to describe this may be difficult ¿ I¿ll try a few: Magnificent! Outstanding! This is a wonderful reading experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    well written World War II drama

    In 1942, in spite of the war, Kitty Kincaid seeks escape from the pressure of being the daughter of a renowned critically important American research scientist. She travels to North Africa, but the Nazis take her prisoner. US Army Captain J.R. Cassidy, known for his seemingly impossible but successful rescue missions is assigned the job of freeing Kitty. <P>Charlotte ¿Charley¿ Morrison has been an aviator forever, but females do not fly combat missions. Instead Charley supports the war cause by flying planes to the British. She meets mechanic Red Walker who will follow her anywhere and RAF ace Skip Inskip who suffers from an anguished past that thirsts for vengeance. <P>Now this quintet will meet and through support and love hy struggling to survive the most destructive war in history. <P>Jill Barnett, known for her romances, flexes her writing muscle with a powerful World War II fiction novel that is reminiscent of the Winds of War. The story line provides the audience a close look at the five characters, who serve as the keys to a fast-paced insightful story line that enables readers to become more than just acquainted with each one. Less than half way through the book, the audience is so hooked they want the quintet to survive and hope that Ms. Barnett provides an epilogue that includes a happily ever after. The author¿s fans and readers who enjoy well written World War II dramas will relish this terrific tale. <P>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2001

    A Book Worthy of the 'Greatest Generation'

    Having thoroughly enjoyed all of Jill Barnett¿s past books I was wondering how I would like this departure from her previous novels. After finishing Sentimental Journey I was struck with the feeling that these characters could have been real people who actually lived the tale Ms.Barnett¿s fine writing had us experience. World War II was a time of great triumph and great tragedy. Against this backdrop Sentimental Journey takes Kitty, J.R., Charley, Red and Skip to places and experiences that make this book a page-turner and must read. All the fine attributes defined by the ¿Greatest Generation¿ and more can be found within the pages of Jill Barnett¿s newest novel. The book remains true to the period thanks to the extensive research done by the author. This is a book I wanted to savor after the last page was read. I seldom reread books but will be doing so with Ms. Barnett`s latest offering. Whether you are a guy or gal I think you¿ll find Sentimental Journey an appealing read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2001

    Do something nice for yourself...

    You won't be disappointed. With Sentimental Journey, Jill Barnett proves she can deliver in any genre, any format. World War II is a big and difficult subject to tackle, and Jill proves she is up to the task. A great read that is well done!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2001

    Terrific Epic Novel

    In 1940, Great Britain has entered World War II, and 'Skip' Inskip is an RAF pilot deemed a hero for the number of enemy planes he has destroyed. His lovely wife Greer is expecting their first child. <br><br> Captain J.R. Cassidy is on a mission in North Africa in 1941. Kitty Kincaid, daughter of a famed scientist is being held hostage by the Germans. Cassidy rescues her, and the two embark on a dangerous journey across the desert. <br><br> In 1941 Texas, Red Walker has just finished Army flight school and meets up with Charley Morrison, a beautiful female pilot he met several years ago when her plane almost collided with the gas tanks at his gas station. <br><br> None other than a force called fate could bring these people together in a war where both men and women did their parts to defeat Hitler's army. <br><br> Brilliantly executed, SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY chronicles the lives and emotions of the players as they face the true dangers inherent in war and combat. Without being overly explicit, Ms. Barnett shows the horror of World War II, not only for those in combat, but for those waiting for word from loved ones. Intense love scenes are poignantly depicted in this novel as war rages all around. Buy a box of tissues for this wonderful read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2001

    The must read book of the summer

    I don't go online often to talk about books, but Ms. Barnett's Sentimental Journey is, quite simply, so wonderful that I want to tell everyone I know to read it. You all know how it is--every once in a while a book comes along that makes you forget everything and fall in love with reading again. This is the kind of book I've been waiting for--a big, beautiful, heartbreaking novel that touches every emotion. Action...adventure...romance...intrigue...it's all here. For anyone who loves the novels of Ken Follett, Susan Isaacs, and Nelson DeMille, you'll adore Sentimental Journey. I can't recommend this novel highly enough.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2012

    You can't go wrong with Jill Barnett.  The World War II setting

    You can't go wrong with Jill Barnett.  The World War II setting is a particular favorite of mine, and Sentimental Journey has it all--wartime drama, memorable characters, a love story that truly tugs at the heartstrings.

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    Posted March 16, 2013

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    Posted February 28, 2011

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    Posted February 4, 2010

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    Posted November 1, 2010

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    Posted February 4, 2010

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    Posted November 4, 2008

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