In 1941 Rand Sterling was a wealthy, womanizing club owner and an American of note among ex-pats and locals alike. Now two years later, Rand is just another civilian prisoner of war—one whose planned escape from the Santo Tomas Internment Camp could put him and others in grave danger.
Irene Reynolds grew up as a missionary kid in the Philippine jungle. Now she works for the paranoid Japanese authorities, delivering censored messages to the other American prisoners in Santo Tomas.
When Irene’s negligence leads to Rand’s failed escape attempt, Rand is sent to the torture chambers of Fort Santiago—and Irene suffers under the weight of her guilt. Yet when she crosses paths with Rand again after his unexpected return to the camp, something more than mere survival draws the unlikely pair together.
As life in Manila becomes more and more desperate, and another threatening letter finds its way from Irene’s hands to Rand’s, the reluctant couple struggles to find a way to stay alive . . . and to keep their growing feelings for each other from compromising the safety of everyone around them.
I loved the two previous books in this series, so I was super excited to read the latest installment of Tolsma’s WWII novels. I was particularly interested to read this because I had never read a book set in a Japanese internment camp in the Philippines. I looked forward to learning a little bit about this facet of WWII.
Tolsma delivered a lot of details about life in an internment camp that I found very interesting, such as prisoners hiring people to construct their huts for them and the economic system of the camp. Readers can benefit from the historical value of the book and the extensive research that Tolsma obviously completed before writing the book.
I thought the plot of the book was very interesting as well. There were a couple of twists that took me by surprise, which isn’t always the case with “twists”. Sometimes you can see them coming a mile away, but I was surprised. I also always appreciate it when authors don’t feel the need to make everything turn out happily for every character. I like realistic conclusions, even when it is sad for a character sometimes.
However, despite all the wonderful things this novel has to offer, I have to honestly say that it is my least favorite of the “flower” books by Tolsma. I didn’t click with the characters like I did with Cornelia and Gerrit in Snow on the Tulips and Gisela and Mitch in Daisies Are Forever. I never felt emotionally invested in their survival, with the sole exception of Anita, Irene’s aunt. In my opinion, she was the strongest character.
If you are a fan of Tolsma, like I am, you will probably want to read this book. If you have read the other books in the series or are a fan of WWII fiction, you might not be able to resist. It is a very nice book, just not a favorite for me. I would recommend reading the other two books in the series first. They aren’t connected in any way other than the theme, but they are excellent books, where this one was just ok for me.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.