Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel's half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel's diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.
When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.
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Hastings, Britain, April 9, 1918
He was suffocating.
Trapped beneath several feet of earth, he tried to claw his way through the dirt and rubble to reach the blue sky above. His starving lungs screamed for air, the torn flesh beneath his broken fingernails bleeding into the soil as he scrabbled toward the surface. The agony in his chest grew unbearable, yet darkness continued to swallow him, the heavens overhead always beyond his grasp. Futility settled over him. He would die here, in this place. Buried alive ...
Colin awoke with a start. Chest heaving, his sweat-soaked body gave an involuntary shudder. The nightmare was always the same; even using both of his hands, he could never reach the precious blue sky.
A sharp rap echoed at the door. Dawn's gray light filtered through his bedroom window in the cramped seaside flat as he rolled toward his nightstand to turn on the lamp. Blinking against the sudden brightness, he stared at the clock. 0530 ...
The next knock accompanied a hesitant male voice. "Lieutenant Mabry?"
His protégé, Corporal Albert Goodfellow. "A moment, if you please." Colin rose to sit on the edge of the bed, planting his bare feet against the rag rug covering the hardwood floor. He used the bedsheet to wipe at his clammy skin, then leaned to snag the pair of suspendered britches from his clothes valet near the foot of the bed. After donning the khaki riding pants, he started to call out, then paused, grabbing the woolen sock from his nightstand. He fitted it over the stump of his left wrist. "Enter."
A tall, painfully thin young soldier in uniform stopped at the threshold to his room. Corporal Goodfellow removed his cap, revealing a short crop of thick red hair. He flashed a sheepish grin.
"Good morning, Lieutenant. Did I wake you, sir?"
Colin shot him a sour look. "Corporal, why are you here at this unholy hour?" He walked to the wardrobe across the room and withdrew a clean undershirt. When his visitor said nothing, he turned. "Well?"
Albert Goodfellow's gaze was transfixed on the clothes valet near the bed — and the prosthetic harness that hung there. He jerked his attention to Colin. "Dovecote's got a heap of messages needing attention, sir. They're marked priority, so the colonel sent me down the hill to request your presence in the office as soon as possible. It's going to be a bear of a day."
Colin's jaw set as he imagined the ensuing hours decoding encrypted messages from the Front. Both the British Army and Secret Service deemed everything a "priority," including daily reports, supply requisitions, and weather conditions in France.
He maneuvered his arms through the sleeveless undershirt, pulling the fabric over his chest. "Tell the colonel I'll be there presently."
More silence. Colin reached for a pressed uniform shirt from the wardrobe. Shrugging into the olive khaki top, he turned again to glance at the corporal. Goodfellow hadn't moved. "Was there something else, man?"
"I was ordered to wait, sir." The corporal shifted. "May I assist in any way?"
"You mean to hurry me along?" Colin scowled. Had the colonel sent Goodfellow to be his nursemaid as well? "I've been dressing myself since I was three years of age, Corporal. I think I can still manage on my own, thank you."
"Sorry, sir, I just meant ..." The corporal's cheeks flushed. "Yes, Lieutenant, I'll just wait beside the pier with the truck."
His protégé sketched a quick salute and made a hasty departure. Colin stared at the door, anger and shame coursing through him. His gaze dropped to his open shirt and the task before him. Infernal buttons! Almost a year ago, they had become a curse on his life.
He decided to postpone the chore long enough to scrape a razor across his face and tame his hair with a wetted comb. Afterward, he drew together the edges of his shirt with his right hand and began the painstaking task of tucking each button into its corresponding hole, working his way down the shirtfront. The cloth fit snugly against his chest, and he was reminded again to purchase new shirts. Months of recuperation working on his uncle's Dublin farm had produced more muscle than what he'd started out with after leaving the hospital.
The button chore complete, he slipped a brown silk tie around his upturned collar and single-handedly knotted and fitted the popular four-in-hand up between the points of his collar.
Shirt tucked in, he slid his cotton suspenders into place and strode toward the prosthetic harness dangling from the clothes valet. The apparatus seemed to mock him as he fitted the terminal sleeve close against his left wrist before he buckled the arm brace. Securing the shoulder harness in place, he swung the long strap across his back and brought it forward to fasten at his chest.
By the time Colin had donned his tunic and leather riding boots, his brow was damp with sweat. Wiping his face with his sleeve before donning his cap, he then strapped on his leather holstered Colt .455 revolver and turned his attention to the canvas satchel still hanging on the valet.
Shaking out the bag's contents onto the bed, he stared at the choice of accoutrements: two steel hooks, a steel pick, a glove-encased wooden hand, and one eating fork, each with a metal stub that fastened to the terminal sleeve at his wrist.
Out of habit, Colin chose the gloved hand, fitting the prosthetic into place. Once he'd repacked the satchel and slung the strap across his shoulder, he went to give himself a quick once-over in the cheval glass.
A smartly attired British officer stared back at him, although the hazel eyes beneath his uniform cap looked haunted and world-weary, not those of a young man twenty-one years of age. He thought about the nightmares he'd struggled with during the nine months since his return from the Front. The war had aged him tenfold.
Lord, please renew my spirit. He let his critical gaze linger another moment before dismissing his reflection. Heading toward his tiny kitchen, he grabbed a few biscuits from the tin in the cupboard and exited his flat.
April's coastal breezes nipped at his freshly shaved skin as Colin walked briskly along the shoreline road toward Hastings Pier, where Goodfellow was waiting. He took a moment to breathe in the tang of salt air, reveling in the sense of relief at again being outdoors.
The sun's reflection was already beginning to crest the watery horizon. Dawn was breaking, and while the seaside town slept, he savored the relative quiet, broken by the cries of hungry gulls and waves lapping against the sandy shore.
A peace that would disintegrate once the sun rose into the sky.
Colin soon spotted his corporal with the truck, and a few minutes later, they were driving up the hillside toward the nondescript building that served as the offices of MI8 secret communications in Hastings. The two-story wooden structure sat just fifty yards away from the Home Defense Pigeon Service, a stationary dovecote that housed a few hundred carrier pigeons.
"I'll put the kettle on, shall I?" Goodfellow said, parking the truck.
"Capital idea." Colin's spirits lifted. The nightmares always managed to rob him of sleep, and tea would be just the thing.
Goodfellow quickly disappeared inside the building while Colin followed at a slower pace. At the entrance steps, he raised his head and caught sight of a grayish-white pigeon heading for the traps built into the dovecote's angled roofline.
Colin knew little about the birds, though he'd seen them at the Front, taking off from the trenches to deliver messages to headquarters. His job with MI8 was to decipher those messages — most arriving from MI6 and British Army General Headquarters at Montreuil, in northern France's Pas-de-Calais — and to send them on by courier to his supervisor at the Admiralty in London.
As he watched the bird, the sun chose that moment to rise fully above the horizon, illuminating the pigeon's fluttering descent and bathing its feathers in golden-white light.
For some reason, the story of Noah rose in his mind, and he envisioned the biblical white bird returning to the ark with an olive branch in its beak. The signal to the end of the flood. A symbol of peace ...
The mental imagery faded. These birds brought only words of war and unrest, the threat of German invasion, or perhaps a casualty roster from the Front. He glanced at his lifeless gloved hand. Despite his prayers, a year of fighting had taught him that peace was someone's naïve ideal, a vague optimism offered to comfort the suffering.
A distant dream beyond reach.
Colin continued inside the building to the second floor and entered his cramped office. On the wall beside his equally compact desk hung a glass-framed picture taken two years before, when he was shiny and new in his full cavalry regalia and mounted on his sorrel steed, Wyatt. Along the opposite wall, a high, barred window allowed morning light to brighten the room's drab green walls.
"The colonel brought over these messages from General HQ in France." The corporal stood just inside his office and removed from a leather pouch at least a dozen tiny rolls of thin paper, each an inch long and the diameter of a cigarette. A roll might contain up to fifty messages needing decryption.
Colin's mouth hardened as he stared at the mound. The corporal seemed to read his mood. "I'll get that tea, sir."
When he was gone, Colin sat down and withdrew from his desk drawer the decorative pincushion his twin sister, Grace, had made for him when he first took the post in Hastings. A smile touched his lips as he read the crooked stitching and the amateurish needlepoint lettering: Those Who Sew with Tears Will Reap with Songs of Joy.
He knew the words, taken from Psalm 126. They were a means to give hope to those in despair, a promise of better days ahead.
Colin's smile wavered. Would he ever reclaim that sense of elation and hope that had always come so easily before the war?
Battle had changed him, and not just on the outside; he prayed daily for the return of himself, to be able to continue the course upon which he'd once set his life....
He glanced to the gloved hand lying inert against the desktop. And if not the old path, at least to know the new one God intended for him — His reasons for keeping Colin Mabry alive.
He set the pincushion gently on the desk. His twin would never make a good seamstress, but Colin loved her for her efforts. And with Grace's upcoming marriage to a peer of the realm less than a month away, he was genuinely happy for her. Somehow, knowing love and hope still existed in the world, at least for his sister, gave him a measure of comfort.
His hand reached for the first tiny roll of paper, and using his thumb and forefinger, Colin spread the curled message flat against the cardboard sheet he'd installed on the desktop. Holding the paper in place with his prosthetic, he took pins from the cushion and secured the note to the board.
Once he'd retrieved his codebook and paper, he was about to settle into his task when Goodfellow returned with the tea. "Ah, thank you, Albert." Colin breathed in the welcoming scent of Darjeeling. "Any dispatches from London?"
"Yes, sir, from the Admiralty. I've coded a dozen messages so far, and after you've checked my work, I'll take them next door to be sent to France."
Colin pushed out a sigh, reaching for his tea. It was going to be a long day. "I've no doubt your work is impeccable —"
A sudden boom echoed from across the channel, startling them both. With a clatter, Colin's cup dropped against the saucer.
"Sounds like they're bombing Paris again, sir."
"So it would seem." He tried to mask his discomfort and again lifted the cup. The next blast erupted before he'd raised the rim to his lips. He clutched the teacup's handle to keep from sloshing the hot liquid. "You may get back to your work, Corporal."
Colin barely acknowledged the soldier's departure as he set down the cup again and regarded his shaking hand, making a fist.
"God, please help me."
He closed his eyes and tried to quash his fear. Another boom followed, and he ground his teeth. How much of Paris had the Germans destroyed? Only weeks ago, they had launched their Spring Offensive and begun firing a new type of long-range siege guns at the French capital. The daily explosions, while distant, reminded him that only fifty miles of water separated him from the war.
Titan's teeth! Why had he agreed to accept this post in Hastings?
As if taunting him, the guns stopped. The air grew quiet again, and Colin managed to drink his tea. After several minutes, he was steady enough to get back to his work.
He'd memorized much of the codebook, so it didn't take long to recognize the monotony of supply requisitions and troop reports he would forward to London's War Office. There were also orders for more carrier pigeons, as the supply at Montreuil was getting low. Colin had learned the birds flew only one way — back to their lofts — so it was necessary to send Hastings pigeons to France to bring messages into Britain.
Head bent to the task, Colin worked through his lunch. By the time his shift was about to end, he was hungry and his shoulders ached.
He was decrypting his last message of the day marked FORWARD TO LONDON when the telephone rang in his office. Relieved at the diversion, he reached for the receiver. "Lieutenant Mabry here."
"Colin, how are things in Hastings?"
He straightened at the sound of the tinny male voice. "Lord Walenford."
"Enough of that. Either Jack or Benningham will do. We're going to be brothers, after all." Jack Benningham's voice warmed.
"Speaking of which ... I thought you might join me for dinner this evening. My man can meet you at Victoria Station and bring you around to the house."
The town house? Colin still hadn't gotten used to the idea his sister was about to marry a viscount and the future Earl of Stonebrooke. A man who also happened to be Colin's boss.
Which meant, despite his reluctance to travel into London tonight, he could hardly refuse his employer and brother-to-be. "I can take the train from Hastings if that is acceptable."
"Splendid. I'll expect you at eight. Mrs. Riley is making her ration stew."
Colin stared blindly at the unfinished work on his desk, still surprised at the invitation. "Very well, Lord ... uh, Jack. I look forward to it."
"Excellent. I'll see you tonight. We'll have dinner in my study, and you can bring any dispatches for the Admiralty directly here."
"Of course ..." Colin's hand groped to replace the receiver as his gaze fell to the last message he'd been working on, noting for the first time the letters he'd already deciphered. LT. C ... O ... L ... I ...
He continued breaking down the other cryptic numbers, his pulse hammering as more words began to form:
Lt. Colin Mabry, British Army, c/o Swan's Tea Room, London: Urgent you remember your promise of love. Meet me Café de la Paix, Paris. 10 April, 1500 hours. You're my last hope. — J. R.
J. R. ... Colin's shock overrode his rapid pulse. Jewel Reyer ... alive.
He'd thought of her often over the past year: her beautiful face, her laughter. Like her namesake, Jewel had glowing skin, lustrous golden hair, and soft blue eyes that sparkled when she sang. She'd also kissed him....
Another explosion rumbled across the channel, and Colin flinched, staring at the note. Jewel was alive. In Paris.
Sweat broke out along his forehead while his heart stirred with emotions from the past, including another memory.
He had given her his promise to return.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Far Side of the Sea"
Copyright © 2019 Kathryn Breslin.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Having read—and LOVED—Kate Breslin’s previous novels, I can honestly say I couldn’t wait for the release of Far Side of the Sea. So much so, the poor postal service lady was no doubt tired of me stalking my mailbox in hopes of this coveted bookish mail. And just like its predecessors, I devoured this story from start to finish. War had left a brutal mark on Colin, not only physically but emotionally. Possessing a loyal heart but nursing a wounded soul, Colin became a hero worth championing for. The author did an excellent job of pairing this world-weary soldier with determined and thirsty-for-answers heroine, Johanna. And can I just say the incorporation of carrier pigeons in this story is an interesting touch?! I love learning new things while reading a story so fabulously entertaining. My mystery-lovin’ self enjoys guessing story plots, and usually I’m a fairly decent predictor. Nope, not with this one. Kate Breslin has outdone herself with this twisty-turvy book. I kinda want to dub her the Plot Twist Queen because this story kept me scratching my head until the very end! Amongst the mystery, the danger, and the complex backdrop of WWI, Colin and Johanna have to learn to trust—both each other and an unfailing God. I love how the author emphasizes God’s ever-present help in times of trouble and His overwhelming love that finds us even in the darkest moments. This story engages the mind and bolsters the heart. I thoroughly enjoyed its gripping mystery and hope-giving message. *I received a copy from the author. All opinions are my own.
I had a perfect winter day to stay home and finish reading The Far Side of the Sea. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than engrossed in such a captivating story. I lost track of all time as I was immersed in this WWI adventure. I followed along as Colin Mabry left England to return to war torn France, where he meets Joanna, and together they try to find her sister and her father. They are also two people in search of healing. Their journey takes them to the south of France and Spain. Author Kate Breslin does her homework and this historical fiction tale has it all, amazing history, beautiful European locations, mystery, romance, adventure, great banter between the main characters. Kate weaves a compelling story during wartime where spies abound. Hang on to your hat as you try to figure out who is trust-worthy and who is not. I always eagerly anticipate any new book from Kate Breslin and I really enjoyed the Far Side of the Sea.
Far Side of the Sea was an enjoyable historical novel. I haven’t read a lot about World War I, so the storyline was very interesting to me, including the use of carrier pigeons during war time. The author’s very detailed research was evident in the novel, and readers will learn a lot of new facts about the history during that time period. This intriguing book is filled with something for everyone: rich historical details, espionage, mystery, and romance. I recommend this book for fans of World War I and historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.
Kate Breslin became one of my favorite authors when I first read For Such A Time—her historical fiction is beautiful, heartfelt, and wonderful! This lovely book is no exception, and there are so many things I enjoyed about it—flawed hero (one of my fave things ever! ), a heartrending mystery, and an impossible choice. While I usually prefer WWII fiction, I thought this was a wonderful book, and I really enjoyed reading more about a time period I don’t usually visit! I also really enjoyed traveling along with the characters to several incredibly beautiful cities, and imagining them through their eyes! However, there is just one part of this story that disappointed me.... At one point, one of the characters is witnessing to another, and they say, God doesn’t get angry....which doesn’t exactly line up with what the Scriptures say... “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” Ps. 7:11 “...ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you.” Deut. 9:8 “And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him...” Deut. 9:20 “And the Lord was angry with Solomon...” 1 Kings 11:9 “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight...” 2 Kings 17:18 Because of that one point in this wonderful story, I will have to take my rating down from what it would otherwise deserve. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for FREE, and a positive review was not required.
It was nice to catch up with some characters from an earlier book that Kate wrote. I kind of forgot about Colin and Grace. I will say it took me quite a few chapters to really get into this story. There was a lot going on and my brain just wasn’t connecting with the story. But it finally did. Little hints were being dropped about possible issues that could arise and I had to keep reading to see what was going on and what would happen next. I don’t know a lot about WWI so it is always interesting to read a story set in that time period. This wasn’t my favorite Kate Breslin book but I did enjoy it overall. A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my own.
An Enthusiastic 5 Stars This is author, Kate Breslin’s 4th book, set against the backdrop of the First World War in France and Spain. If you love a well-written tale full of adventure, a lovely romance, spies, homing pigeons, and writing that holds your interest to the very end – then you should definitely read Kate Breslin’s newest book, Far Side of the Sea!! One can sense the author’s interest in this time period - she has certainly done her research. I always enjoy learning history as I read. The story is beautifully told, two strangers coming together in a most unusual circumstance, combining resources in the search for Jewel, Joanna’s half-sister and Colin’s angel, who had saved his life earlier during the war when he was injured. Now he intends to save her: Jewel. However, along the way full of surprises and twists, he comes to care for Joanna. Do yourself a favor, read this book! I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I adored reading this one! Colin and Jewel are two very unique and deep characters that have a lot going on. The intrigue and mystery going on was beautifully woven into the story and made for a late night! You never know who to trust during a war and this author played that out perfectly. The pigeon carriers were a cool new addition to read about. I learned quite a few things on them alone during wars! Definitely a page turner, many twists, chases, running, broken trust and so much more. This is a bookshelf keeper! I got the book from the publisher but was not required to do a review. This is my own opinion.
From the start, this book felt like one of many BBC historical fiction productions I'd seen. It was a great story, good characters. An exciting war setting with spies, danger, deception and more. It is a really good story, with twists, turns, questions of loyalty and betrayal and more. The chemistry between Johanna and Colin is well written. The overall novel is entertaining and exciting. If you enjoy historical fiction, be sure to check out Far Side of the Sea. I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion. I decided to check out the audiobook as well and was pleasantly surprised. Produced by Tantor Audio, the narrator, Sarah Zimmerman, does an excellent job. I have no idea how she does it, switch from English to Irish accents in such fluid motion. No halting, no struggling. It was very smooth. So as the dialogue between Colin and Johanna felt believable, real even. If you don't have the time for reading, I highly recommend the audiobook. It's an enjoyable story and would be perfect for a long drive or even something to listen to while crafting/painting or even while doing mindless chores.
I have enjoyed all the books by Kate Breslin and this book is no exception! This book is set in war torn Europe during WWI and it is about a woman, Johanna, who is trying to find her family. In her journey's, she meets an old friend of her sisters, Colin. Immediately, we see the sparks flying as they navigate this difficult season of life for both of them. I really loved the mystery and suspense woven through this novel. It kept me intrigued throughout and I was anxious to see what would happen next. There are a lot of twists and turns to this story that keep the reader guessing. I also enjoyed the historical facts that the author wove into this story. I could tell that there was a lot of research done for this story and I really enjoyed the information about how the carrier pigeon was used in war. My favorite part of this book is how beautifully the faith of these people is woven through. Kate Breslin always does this in her book and I just love how she makes faith such an integral part of her books. I enjoyed this book so much and give it 5 stars. *This book was provided to me by Bethany House. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.
This is the second book in the series and the second book I've read by Kate Breslin and I loved it as much as the first one. In the first book, Grace Mabry worked on a farm that supplied the soldiers with food to help with the war effort. She hoped it would, in a way, help her brother who was serving in the military. In this book, we get to hear about her brother, Colin Mabry. Colin is now on a desk job due to injuries that keeps him from serving at the Front. He is translating messages sent via carrier pigeon. When decoding one message, he discovers it's a message for him from the woman that found him and cared for his wounds, hiding him from the Germans. She wants to meet with him like he promised before he left to return to his unit. When Colin gets to the rendezvous point, he finds that the woman who shows up there, late, is not the woman he agreed to meet. It turns out to be her half-sister, Johanna Reyer. She informs him that her sister, Jewel, is in trouble and Johanna wants Colin to help find her sister and rescue her from the German officer that took her. Well, thus begins an adventure involving friends, family, and frenzied days of danger and intrigue for the two. As they search for Jewel, Colin and Johanna become close and both begin to feel guilty, because Colin is supposed to be Jewels' not Johanna's. Will the guilt make Colin ask Jewel to marry him, or will the two admit their attraction for each other and get on with their lives together after finding Jewel? This was a suspenseful, fast paced, romance you don't want to miss. If you enjoy this kind of historical romance, then get a copy and read it. What are you waiting for? Go get one. Enjoy! I received a review copy of this book from Kate Breslin and Bethany House Publishers; all opinions in my review are my own.
What a fantastic book! Kate Breslin is a detail oriented author so one might think her characters are an afterthought, but they aren't. The setting and the characters are all so charming, captivating, and real. I care about them all! Breslin makes history come alive. Colin and Johanna's individual stories--and their work together--were fantastic! I also enjoyed the subplot of carrier pigeons. While I'm not a bird person, I am a history person so learning about their usage during WWI was interesting. I loved the twist and turns in this WWI spy novel. I haven't read tons of WWI fiction, but was utterly intrigued by this book and couldn't put it down. Thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House for the complimentary ebook copy of this book. I was not required to share a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
The Far Side of the Sea is an intriguing and romantic story filled with the historical drama, danger, and flavor of WWI. I love it when a story pulls me into the scene without loading me with mounds of backstory. The first chapter pulled me into action and I easily connected with Colin. I’d previously read about the carrier pigeons that carried encoded messages during the war and was thrilled to have them included in this story. A surprise awaited Colin when he arrived in Paris and that is when I became fully immersed. I enjoyed Colin and Johanna’s quest for truth, hope for trust, and journey of faith. And I loved that the romance wasn’t overdone, and the danger felt authentic. Other than a brief lag during the middle of the story, I enjoyed the pacing, and the characters feel like old friends. I really didn’t want this story to end, and I’m already looking forward to Kate Breslin’s next book! Author: Kate Breslin Publisher: Bethany House Pages: 384 First Line: He was suffocating. Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher.
I love when I find a new author whose book I enjoy so much that quickly add all of her books to my to read pile. Well, I just found an author like that. What is her name? Kate Breslin. And the book? Far Side of the Sea. After finishing Far Side of the Sea, I now have all of her other books on my list of books to read soon! So, what did I absolutely love about this book? Well, I'm glad you asked! I loved the historical details. The book was full of them and I appreciated every last one of them. Whether it was a description of the dress that Jo was wearing, or descriptions of different locations the characters visited, the details were so clear that I felt as if I were standing there seeing everything myself. I also loved the twists in the story that I was not expecting. Maybe, I was just focused on the wonderful details too much, but I really didn't see some parts of the story coming! Mrs. Breslin did a wonderful job of keeping my attention so much on the current page that I was not thinking ahead, speculating on what might happen later. I really enjoyed Far Side of the Sea and cannot wait to read more by Kate Breslin! I recommend this book for those who enjoy historical fiction, books set during World War I, and books that are very well written! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Adventure, Love and Stopping the War! The constant noise of WWI bombs exploding in France is unnerving for Lieutenant Colin Mabry as he translates coded messages snuck out by homing pigeons. Despite being across the water in England, he can clearly hear them. When translating one day, he is surprised to discover one of the messages is addressed to Colin from Jewel. She is the young woman behind enemy lines who tended his wounds, and gave her love to him. She writes that Colin is the only one she trusts, and he must come to Paris to help her. As a war veteran who suffers nightmares from battles that almost took his life—and did take his arm—Colin fights PTSD constantly. His states his strong faith in God has given him the strength to carry on. The idea of going to Paris where bombing takes place day and night is unwelcome. But Colin has never forgiven himself for not taking Jewel when he left, and vows he will help her this time. Before leaving, Colin is warned that Paris is full of spies, and Jewel might be one of them. She wouldn’t be the first to play on a soldier’s feelings to gain information or capture. He pushes on, but arrives in Paris to discover Jewell isn’t there. Instead, another woman claims to want to take Colin to her, but is she a spy? A simple meeting turns into an escapade that will include journeying through many areas with people he shouldn’t trust, with others he should, but not always picking the right ones. He rubs shoulders with notorious spies, traitors, and attempts to save something that just might end the war. This is a thrilling story that will open the eyes of readers to what it was like to be a part of WWI, including fun information about how much homing pigeons helped the war effort. It is easy to put yourself in the shoes of Colin, and understand how he feels. A romance develops that seems doomed the more the story develops, and the entire tale is told from a very clear Christian point of view. I enjoyed this 5-star book and recommend it to lovers of history, thrillers, and romance. Bethany House Publishing has provided bookreadingtic with a complimentary copy of Far Side of the Sea, for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
With Far Side of the Sea, Kate Breslin continues maintaining her reputation for incredible historical detail wrapped in with adventurous romance and intrigue. I was so excited to hear we would get to enjoy more of Colin Mabry’s story. We got a brief glimpse of him In Ms. Breslin’s sophomore novel Not By Sight, and I found myself wishing for more of his story after that slight introduction. Set mainly in France, any fan of WWI history, suspense and romance all intertwined will enjoy be submersed in this intriguing story. Full of complex and realistic characters, you almost believe the characters are part of the historical research, not fictional. There were plot twists I did not see coming. I loved the realistic portrayal of Colin dealing with his injury, still healing from the trauma of his past experience and the struggle of being uncertain how others now viewed him - yet what an incredible faith he still maintained. I found myself immediately intrigued at first introduction of the main female character, Johanna Reyer, and loved the natural development of her relationship with Colin. I knew tidbits about carrier pigeons being used during the war, but learning the extent of how they were used was yet another fascinating component of this beautiful story. I can easily recommend this exciting addition to Kate Breslin’s novel collection to any fan of WWI historical romance. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.
Kate Breslin’s books are always a such a delight. Her writing is gorgeous, and she always has you feeling as if you’re right in the middle of the story. Set during the Great War, with plenty of intrigue and action, you won’t want to set this down till you’ve turned the last page. Lieutenant Colin Mabry has sacrificed many things over the course of the war. His body, his relationships and, not least of all, his sense of self-worth. Johanna Reyer’s life was never easy, even before the war began. As she searches for a father she’s only met once and a sister she never knew about, she hopes for a brighter future with her family. As they enter a world of spies and secrecy both realize they’ll leave this search very different from how they began it. This book was full of tuns and plot twists. Just as I would figure one out, another would be thrown into the path and off I went, eagerly anticipating this new surprise. I spent a few late nights reading because I needed to know what happened next. One of the most interesting elements of this story was the use of carrier pigeons. I knew that they were used in the war, but I never realized the extent of that use. Breslin’s research really shines through and left me hungry for more information on the subject. I was also fascinated with the spy craft. I’ve always been a sucker for a good spy story, and this delivered on that front. I found myself humming James Bond theme songs when I was forced to put the book down.I can easily see this being one of my top reads of the year and cannot recommend it enough. I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Revisiting the Mabry family from Not by Sight (you should read it if you haven't!), this book follows the story of Colin, a veteran whose life was forever changed with his war injuries and experiences. He's taken a job decoding messages received from carrier pigeons, and when he discovers one that's directed at him, Colin decides he has no choice but to travel to Paris to take action and keep a promise he made. Colin is surprised when he meets Johanna, having not expected this spunky young woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and those she loves. The two of them set out on a daring rescue mission to find Johanna's sister, the puzzle piece that Colin and Johanna have in common. This is such a fast-paced book that keeps the reader turning pages while following along on this adventure. With World War 1 in full swing, nobody knows who is to be trusted, and many risks are necessary. The faith element included is beautiful and thought provoking while not being at all preachy. Kate Breslin's latest is truly an excellent read, and I can't recommend it highly enough. The research and care that go into her books are impeccable. I also love the audio book, which is read by Sarah Zimmerman. She is one of the best audio book readers I've ever heard, with accents and expression that further put the listener right in the middle of the story. Having never really ever known much about the Easter Rising in Ireland until just recently, it surprised me to find that it factors into the background of Far Side of the Sea. I think I'll compare this book to potato soup. Think creamy soup with potatoes, carrots, celery, onion. Bacon crumbled on top, with green onion and cheese sprinkled on. Really, really good, with substance that fills you in the best of ways.
Oh my goodness, where do I begin? I loved this book so much. A couple of months ago, I binged all of Kate Breslin's books, and was super excited to find that she was releasing another one! I couldn't wait to read it - and my high expectations were definitely met. I find it hard to believe that Kate Breslin has only published four books! She writes so very well, and especially for the genre! As a writer myself, I know the difficulty of being able to accurately write stories set in a location far from my native land. Kate set this book in England, France, and Spain - but not once did I doubt that she didn't live there. WWI is also one of my favorite time periods, and she writes the historical part of this fictional novel SO WELL. I love how this book isn't just a romance - it's a historical romance, with mystery! I loved the mystery aspect, and it kept me reading until the end! Kate's books have all proven to be very hard to put down. I loved Colin's character. I can only imagine what it would be like to have gone through what he did, and yet his character is strong and he still trusts God. He's not bitter, like many who have had the same injury, and he is so real. I think his struggles are really accurate. Johanna, likewise, is another wonderful character. She's witty, she's strong, she struggles. I despise characters who don't struggle. They're not human. But Kate's characters are very, very human. Lastly - THIS COVER! I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. It's so beautiful, and I love the merger of the vintage-inspired photo and the old black and white. Simply lovely. All in all, this fourth book of Kate's was just as good as all the rest. I had high expectations and was not disappointed, and I'm so glad I got to read it! It will definitely be one I'll reread many times...it's just so good. FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review; these are my honest thoughts and opinions.
I recently read “Far Side of the Sea”, Kate Breslin’s latest addictive, impossible-to-put-down work of historical fiction. It’s the spring of 1918, and British soldier Lieutenant Colin Mabry (who faithful readers of Breslin’s work will recognize from “Not by Sight”) has just received an urgent message via carrier pigeon. The message is from Jewel Reyer, a woman who had once saved his life. Although they had been in love, he made the difficult choice to leave her behind in France, and now believed her to be dead. He immediately gets permission from MI8 to travel to France to find her, only to discover that the message was not from Jewel, but from her half-sister, Johanna. Johanna works for French Army Intelligence, and is convinced that her sister is alive and in the company of a German officer. Jewel’s diary is the only link Johanna has to her sister, and needs Colin’s help to find her. From the very start, you are pulled into the story and immediately become attached to the characters. Colin Mabry, who was wounded in battle, is trying to overcome what we now call PTSD and survivor’s guilt, and we sympathize with his struggles and his desire to make amends to Jewel and her family for leaving her behind. Johanna is a bright spot in this story—she’s so adventurous and brave and I want to be just like her when I grow up. Everyone’s motives and agendas are questioned, and you never quite know who to trust, which is what makes this book impossible to put down. Is Jewel still alive? Is she held against her will, or did she go with the German agent freely? Does she still love Colin? As his relationship with Johanna grows, Colin wonders if the love he felt for Jewel was long-lasting, or just a result of their circumstances. I came across Kate Breslin’s work through her book “For Such a Time”, and it is still one of my top 10 favorite books ever, and “Far Side of the Sea” has just made it into that list, as well. I love all the plot twists and turns; you have no idea how this is going to turn out until the very last page. I love how she weaves into her stories messages of faith and God’s ever-constant love for all of us. I also always learn something interesting in her books—here, Johanna teaches Colin (and the rest of us) about the dovecote and the pigeons that were used to carry messages during the war. Those little nuggets of information make the setting more authentic and always make me want to pick up a history book and do some research of my own. You know you’re reading a good book when 1) You’re exhausted but you can’t go to bed until you find out what happened, and 2) You have a terrible book-hangover afterwards. I have wandered aimlessly through bookstores trying to figure out what to read next, when what I really want is more of Colin and Johanna. Maybe I’ll just read it again. I encourage you to pick it up and read it. You won’t be disappointed. *The author sent me an advance copy of this book, but the comments and opinions are my own.
This is an incredible historical romance! I absolutely loved both of the main characters. They each have wounds from their pasts that they are trying to learn to move past. I found that the exploration into how Colin has been affected emotionally by the physical wound from his time at the front during WWI was excellent. This is something that I knew on a surface level had to be the case. I had never really dug deep to try to understand what it was like. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Colin was trusting God in the midst of his own struggles. He was able to speak encouragement when talking with Johanna to try and point her to God which is what we all need to be doing for those around us. I learned a lot about WWI reading this book. I found the information about the carrier pigeons to be fascinating. I was especially happy to read the Author’s Note at the back and find out that everything that was new to me was based on actual research that she did before writing this novel. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All of the opinions expressed are my own. Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
Rich with historical detail of WWI and the backdrop of Paris & Barcelona, Kate Breslin gives us a fictional account of Lieutenant Colin Mabry, wounded in war and trying to find his way in a new life. Decoding a personal message delivered by a carrier pigeon, he ventures on a quest that will test the limits of his heart, his faith and his strength. Full of adventure, danger, espionage, spies, and in a world plunged in war, will he find love among the chaos? “For a moment, he gazed at the woman beside him, considering how little he really knew about Johanna Ryer. And then a sudden, disquieting thought…How much more he still wanted to learn.” I've only read a couple of books set in WWI and I felt Breslin did a wonderful job portraying what it must have been like for her characters to live in that time. The idea of sending messages via carrier pigeon was fascinating to me, a piece of history I didn't know about. They had to travel many miles in dangerous conditions to deliver sensitive information to the front lines. It was so interesting to read about! In reality, the whole story was very enjoyable, one that was meaty and had lots to discover in it. I could probably re-read this and find something new within the pages each time! I also loved getting to know both Colin and Johanna, two people thrown together by happenstance for one mission and finding their inner worth along the way. “Johanna’s illegitimacy had made her growing-up years difficult, subjected to ignorance and the prejudice of others. It bothered him to think she believed herself beneath God’s love and His miracles.” Breslin mixed up a remarkable tale of love, faith, romance, and wartime & made it all work for this reader, leaving me fully satisfied at the end. A stunning example from an extraordinary author. *I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House via Netgalley and was under no obligation to leave a favorable review. All opinions are my own. *
Kate Breslin’s fourth book was released in early March. Since I enjoyed the first three, For Such a Time, Not by Sight, and High as the Heavens, I anticipated her new story to captivate as well. Far Side of the Sea, by Kate Breslin, is Historical Fiction at its finest and exceeded my expectations. Kate weaves a WWI tale of intrigue, drama, suspense, romance, and faith-filled miracles that takes wounded British soldier, Lieutenant Colin Mabry and brother of Grace Mabry from Not by Sight, into danger. He travels three countries as his adventure unfolds. Colin struggles through deception, disappointment, loss, and fear while looking for answers, acceptance, honesty, love, and miracles. As I read Far Side of the Sea, I found myself talking to the characters. “Don’t do it.” “Oh, no!” “Be strong.” “I knew it.” “Stay!” “Have faith.” “Sweet.” I’m one who guesses what’s going to happen in many stories, but Kate managed to keep me in the dark. In fact, on one page, I was shocked twice. Some of my favorite quotes from the book: Humorous — “Why do women wear such hats? I imagine you must get headaches from all the weight on your head.” Adventurous — “For the first time in his life, he was feeling just a bit reckless.” Profound — “…what lay in the heart mattered more than what the world saw on the outside.” Hopeful — “If she had faith, perhaps miracles would happen.” Disappointment — “Duty and love. Sometimes they do not mix.” Cutest exclamation — “Titan’s teeth.” And finally, thanks to Kate for the unexpected Bible quote that encouraged me with a current balance problem — “For you, Lord, have delivered…my feet from stumbling.” Surprise after surprise, Kate Breslin’s latest book kept me captivated and mesmerized. I highly recommend Far Side of the Sea.
Far Side of the Sea is another winner by Kate Breslin. I have no doubt it will be among my top favorites I have read in 2019. I love how she vividly describes the setting and era. I felt like I was transported back to World War I. I loved Colin and Johanna. I enjoyed watching them grow throughout the story. Far Side of the Sea gets a well deserved five plus stars from me. I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy clean historical fiction. I received this book from the publisher, but was not required to write a review. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
I loved learning about WWI and how carrier pigeons were used to get messages to and from certain areas. This had a great amount of history and just the right amount of romance. There was even some intrigue thrown in. I loved the characters of Colin and Johanna. It is fun to see how they learn to trust one another during these trying times. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
This book is quite an escapade for intrigue. I liked the two main characters, Colin Mabry and Johanna Reyer. They played nicely against each other since he was fast becoming a wallflower with his war injuries and she with her devil may care attitude for her cause. As they joined forces to find the missing Jewel Reyer, it was easy to see how their chemistry made them a formidable team. Kate Breslin's characters come alive and their complexities make this suspenseful novel one that is hard to put down. I was surprised to learn how much carrier pigeons were used in World War I to convey intricate details for intelligence. Colin may have had a debilitating injury when he lost his hand but that did nothing to stop him from playing an important role in deciphering the coded messages sent from allies. Johanna pioneered women when she donned tunics and slacks to drive her motorcycle in and out of danger to deliver messages. I enjoyed her spirit and her first hand experience handling the pigeons who carried messages across the channel. The two were joined together on a mission that grew larger than life. Kate kept the story going with several twists and turns to make this one big caper for freedom. There is a good bit of faith and values in this story that brings together a man who was grounded in his faith and a woman who never before heard the word of God. The love Colin begins to feel for Johanna is built within his faith and as she grows to love him, she opens her heart to a new and simmering faith. I enjoyed this story very much and recommend it to the reader who enjoys mysteries of an espionage nature.