REVIEW: Homefront Hero by Allie Pleiter
Dashing and valiantly wounded, Captain John Gallows could have stepped straight out of an army recruitment poster. Leanne Sample can’t help being impressed–although the lovely Red Cross nurse tries to hide it. She knows better than to get attached to the daring captain who is only home to heal and help rally support for the war’s final push. As soon as he’s well enough, he’ll rush back to Europe, back to war–and far away from South Carolina and Leanne. But when an epidemic strikes close to home, John comes to realize what it truly means to be a hero–Leanne’s hero.
Dear Ms. Pleiter,
Ages ago, one of our readers (sorry, I’ve searched through our archives but can’t find the comment) recommended one of your books to me but it’s taken this long before I took her up on the rec. Sigh…I’m bad. Anyway, what finally got me going is the time period you use here. Lately we’ve had a lot of interest at DA in “Edwardian” and “WWI” books so, for me, “Homefront Hero” was perfectly timed.
The story includes one thing I never thought I’d read about – knitting by men – and the 1918 influenza epidemic. Thinking back, the only other two books I recall with mass infection and death are an oldie from Paula Allardyce called “My Dear Miss Emma” that deals with the plague in 18th century Arles and the fantasy book “Warsworn” with its endless sweating disease. This flu is not exactly rainbows and fluffy bunny material but you make it work. After all, Leanne is a nurse, it is 1918 and it would be strange if this event wasn’t mentioned.
It’s smack in the middle of US involvement in WWI then the flu arrives yet the story is filled with humor. I wasn’t expecting this, to be honest. Most Inspies I’ve read have been more on the serious side so your sly wit caught me off balance. But it’s a good off balance, I liked it! This especially comes into play when General Barnes is desperately trying to come up with some way to punish John for going AWOL and staying on campus to face the flu to save Leane and John can’t come up with the type of glib excuse he used to anymore. The perfect solution presents itself and I totally believe it’s inspired (no pun intended) by God. Punishment by life in Washington, DC attending bureaucratic meetings and making speeches – it’s priceless.
Leanne’s initial reactions after meeting “big hero” John are a breath of fresh air. Leanne thinks he’s an arrogant stuck up officer and is determined to not fall for him as she’s sure so many other women already have. It’s a nice change that she doesn’t go all spastic and make a twat out of herself while sticking her nose up in the air in an effort to avoid and snub him. I’m getting so tired of heroines who suddenly can’t manage to put one foot in front of the other when they spot the hero they’re trying to get snooty about.
John reacts with that age old male drive to get a pretty woman to look at him. And that’s before Leane is tasked to teach him how to knit. You go girl with including a modern rage in a period correct way and leveling the romantic power playing field. I also like that Leanne sees John as he really is from almost the beginning without the light of hero worship blinding her. Sometimes he gets frustrated with his injuries and being sidelined and that’s before Leane has to teach him how to turn a sock heel. As a man of action used to getting his way and being athletic, his reactions to his limitations sound very realistic to me. His anger at how he’s being treated like a hero when his actions stemmed from simple self preservation vs the actions of those on the front line whom he considers to be the true heroes deserving of this praise also make sense.
So…the socks and knitting stuff is fun but, as I alluded to above, the book dips into some pretty serious stuff even before the discussions on religion. Leane learns the hard way about soldiers attempting to deal with post combat mental issues and the sad outcome makes the book seem more realistic. Then comes the flu.
Okay nothing pretty here but then it doesn’t sound like a walk through the park. Applause for not sugar coating anything yet still keeping the details from getting too icky. Most of the time I’m not looking for icky in a romance novel. Your descriptions also convey the terror, horror and helplessness everyone must have been feeling. I just hope we never see another pandemic like this again.
How the religious aspects of an inspirational are handled can keep me reading or cause me to call it a day. Leanne is already a very religious person so the inclusion of her faith in the book seems natural. I didn’t feel it was overdone or being jammed down my throat in an effort to convert me. As I mentioned in the review of “Her Rebel Heart,” I have an easier time reading historical inspies and since this is also a wartime setting, that helps too. Yet it’s not the war that convinces John but Leanne’s daily demonstrations of quiet faith during which she doesn’t attempt to harangue him towards God – and I so like that – plus the life or death situation they go through that gets the light to break through for him. I found his discovery of faith to be believable and again didn’t feel I was being preached at. The inclusion of some funny bits after the long, dark night helps as well.
Forgive me if I include a rant about the term “y’all.” If you’re going to use this Southern phrase, please do it correctly. It’s used when addressing more than one person or when talking to one person but in reference to multiple people. /end rant
When the story ends, I completely buy into John’s new found faith and the love that they finally admit they share. It’s a hard fought battle on both sides as they initially are attracted yet feel they have no romantic future but the transition is one I believe and that I enjoyed reading. B
Do you have a quote handy in which “y’all” was used incorrectly in the book? I’m trying to figure out how you’d use it if you weren’t refering to multiple people.
@Hannah E.: That’s just it – you shouldn’t be. Here is an example. Leanne and her roommate Ida are talking. They are the only ones in the room. Ida says:
“Y’all do not look like someone who doesn’t know anything. Y’all look like someone who knows too much. What is going on?”
Later on John is spoken to by two men who need help with medical supplies. John is alone, by himself, not part of any group yet one of the men says to him: “We need help here. Can y’all lend a hand?”
I have never understood the confusion over “Y’all” even though I am a New Englander. Isn’t it a contraction for “You all”? Why would someone use it when there isn’t an “all” to refer to? But then again I am one of those people who grinds their teeth when I see people using “there, their and they’re” incorrectly. It reminds me of the time on Friends when Ross yells about Rachel’s use of “they’re” instead of “their” in her letter to him. (T-h-e-y apostrophe r-e is a contraction for “They are!”)
Oooh, this is going on my wishlist. The WW1/epidemic setting is really similar to my favorite Alexis Harrington book Home By Morning – in that one, the heroine is a newly-minted doctor and returns home to Oregon from medical school to find the man she left behind engaged to her conniving sister. Then war and flu and the heroine is the only one holding the entire town together. And the hero Learns His Lesson. I like it when that happens.
For historical inspies, I *highly* recommend Julie Klassen, who does Regency/Victorian and definitely Deeanne Gist, who does turn-of-the-century American. My DIKs are Gist’s Maid to Match (set at Biltmore House in NC) and either The Silent Governess or The Apothecary’s Daughter by Klassen, I can never decide which. Avoid Klassen’s latest, though, it’s pretty blah.
Most of the other inspies I’ve read have been freebies, and they’ve all been pretty formulaic, which makes me love the uniqueness and humor of Gist and Klassen all the more.
@Christine: I have their/they’re and its/it’s issues too. Word nerds rule!
@Christine: Exactly. If you can’t substitute “you all” in your sentence and have it make sense, then use the singular “you.”
@Kelly: Oh yes, I’ve heard of the Harrington book. It’s a rerelease, right?
And I think I remember Wendy, SuperLibrarian posting a positive review of “Maid to Match.” I also seem to recall Klassen’s name being mentioned in comments on another inspy review somewhere.
Maybe it was me. I loved Maid to Match and Klassen, who writes Inspirational Gothics.
@Emily A.: It could very well be you. I’ve had horrible luck in the past few days trying to track down previous posts/comments that I remember which I’ve wanted to properly attribute to whoever said it.
Thanks for the recommendation! I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to have someone articulate their favor of the book so well–and for all the reasons I wrote it! You made my day.–Allie
@Jayne and @Kelly- I think we all had the same English and Grammar classes as kids other people must have slept through ; )
@Kelly- Thanks for the The Apothecary’s Daughter by Klassen recommendation. I have had it on my Kindle for years and never got around to reading it (it was free for a while). Perhaps I will give it a try.
@Jayne- I agree that inspirationals seem more natural in a historical romance. For a good portion of Western history most people professed some religion or another it would be odd not to have it be a part of the character’s life. It’s such an integral part of the “Little House” books for example without being over specific or proselytizing and those are (mostly) autobiographical. I can see it working very well in a novel about a nurse during WWI.
@Allie Pleiter: You’re welcome. I’m glad I’ve moved you over to my “yes, I’ve finally read one of her books!” column.
@Christine: Whose/who’s is another I have to watch out for.
I have read and reviewed some contemporary inspies that did work for me but for the most part, in the inspie genre, I prefer historicals.
Allie, could you recommend some of your favorite inspies, either from your own line or elsewhere? I’ve been burned by a few bad freebies that were either badly written or unbearably preachy.
Thanks for the detailed, informative review. I had this book on my wish list–I may have seen it on the May recommendations list and checked it out–but this tips me over the edge.
In addition, thanks so much for the “ya’ll” rant. I’ve seen it used as a singular form of address several times just recently and it really confused me. (I mean, I’m a Southerner so I knew it was wrong; I just didn’t understand why it had suddenly become so prevalent.)
I’m not an expert grammarian by any stretch of the imagination, but I am driven wild by misused/misspelled words in books, newpapers, on TV (if I see one more news headline about a “grizzly murder” that doesn’t actually involve a bear, I won’t be answerable for my actions), etc. When I used to read DTBs, I kept a pencil beside me to mark all the mistakes I’d find. Now, I just bookmark them on the Kindle. It doesn’t serve any purpose other than to provide me an outlet. I just finished a book that used the word “loathe” three times, two of which should have been “loath” instead. Not interchangeable, people!
As a lifelong resident of Alabama (recently moved to Colorado, where my accent provokes much comment!), I have to agree with Jayne: “y’all” is a second-person plural (contraction for “you all,” as Christine notes), and anyone in real life who uses it in the South as a singular will be looked down on as one “putting on airs”; i.e., a fake Southern accent.
There! Having gotten that off my chest, I have to say this setting/time period sounds very interesting to me, maybe in part because my grandfather had the flu in 1919. What is the publication date on this book?
@Sheri Cobb South: It’s a May release so the DTB version should be in stores now or as an ebook. And I hope your accent provokes much positive comment. ;)
I just picked it up at Books on Board for $3.74. Thx for the rec. :)
Didn’t the parents of the war veteran protagonist half in Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark also die of that epidemic before he had returned to New York? I think so.
@Estara: Yes, they did. I remember how subtlely this was mentioned in the story after the hero saw (IIRC) a torn public service type poster mentioning (I think) ways to avoid getting the infection and how he bitterly recalled how useless those tips had been.
I’m sure it was me who recommended Allie Pleiter’s work to the DA world. Although I don’t read prairie or western or many WW novels (medievals are my thing), Pleiter’s work is an auto-buy for me. Klassen, not so much. I like Deanne Gist’s novels. My personal other auto-buys in inspie are Sharon Gillenwater (that woman could write out her grocery list and I’d buy it), Sandra Byrd’s superb TO DIE FOR, and Siri Mitchell. Allie is a terrific writer who’s found her strengths and exploits them to make for reads several cuts above much that’s found in inspie romance. That’s my opinion — no charge.
@Jayne: I found it today at Walmart! Thanks!
And yes, the comments I’ve gotten on my accent have been positive. At least, if anyone thinks I sound like a redneck, they’ve been kind enough not to say so. Unfortunately, this means my voice is all wrong to read aloud from my own work. Maybe I should follow Ms. Pleiter’s example and write a book set closer to home!
quote from above “…only other two books I recall with mass infection and death are an oldie from Paula Allardyce called “My Dear Miss Emma” that deals with the plague in 18th century Arles…”
OMG! Thank you! I love this book and could not remember the name or the author’s name. I’ve gone to Amazon and requested it for Kindle.
@Susan: Glad to help. I’ve adored her books for longer than I want to recall. ;)
@Kelly: I’ve always recommended Maureen Lang’s historicals. Her Great War series is set in the same time period as HOMEFRONT HERO and offers up some wonderfully crafted characters. If you want to make sure you stay away from preachy, Charlene Ann Baumbich’s last three books–the most recent of which was FINDING OUR WAY HOME should suit you, although they’re not historicals.