by LK Campbell, historical (2005)
Another Era Books, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-4116-4965-1
Set in 1946, just after the end of World War 2, Gold Star Wife is a short and simple story about one of those soldiers who came home, Paul Adams, finally finding the determination to court and marry the woman he's always has his eye on, Janet Lewis. She's now a widow bringing up three kids so Paul isn't just going to be a husband, he'll also be a father to those kids. Meanwhile, assorted secondary characters mill around with some subplots to keep things interesting.
Gold Star Wife has some similarities in terms of subplots and characters to LK Campbell's subsequent longer novel A Soldier's Love. Nonetheless, Gold Star Wife, by being shorter than A Soldier's Love, ends up being better than the longer book because most of the sagging middle that plagues A Soldier's Love is not here.
As a result, I get a very well-paced sweet story about falling in love interspersed with some probably too idealistic and simplistic look at life after marriage from the perspectives of some secondary characters. There aren't any crazy hot monkey sex here. The sensibilities of the lead characters here are pretty old-fashioned, for the want of a better word, and there are plenty of G-rated dating and saying hello before they take the grand step to go to bed together. Even then, sex is a Very Serious Step rather than something two people wanting to do some hanky-panky together get into.
The characters are in danger of being very one-dimensionally perfect but given the length of this story, that is actually quite fine since there isn't much room for character development. Paul and Janet are sensible and level-headed people who are easy to like and their relationship is most sweet indeed.
There isn't much else to say about this book other than it's short but sweet. I quote the price of this book as $9.99 but that's the price of the paperback produced by Lulu and I only quote this price because the ebook version doesn't have a quotable ISBN number. The download version, which can be bought from the Another Era Books storefront at Lulu, costs only $1.00. I don't know about anyone else, but for this $1.00 I am getting something far more enjoyable than some typical sex-and-spank $5.95 tale of similar length from some other publisher, so this is a pretty good bargain all in all.
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