Title: The Storm by Shelley Thrasher
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Genre: Historical, F/F, Romance
Length: 264 pages
Book Rating: C+
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
Jacqueline “Jaq” Bergeron—New Orleanian, suffragist, freethinker—drove an ambulance on the battlefields of Europe during the Great War. She returns home and finds herself isolated in rural East Texas, keeping house for her war-hero husband as she awaits his promised divorce and plans her escape. But then she meets Molly.
Molly Russell lives for her music, which sustains her as she cares for her son and husband, and suffers her mother-in-law. When she meets Jaq, a world she never imagined opens to her—a world entirely out of reach.
With the storm of war still raging in Europe and other battles to be fought at home, can two women bound by the land and family ties find the freedom to love and build a life together?
Set in the latter years of World War I, Shelley Thrasher’s The Storm is rich in historical details as two unlikely women find love in rural Texas.
Jaq realizes her marriage is a mistake right from the beginning and she and her husband, Eric go their separate ways until he is injured in the war. Following his mother’s death, Eric and Jaq temporarily move to his family’s farm and arrange for household help for his father. Upon her arrival, Jaq meets Molly who lives on a nearby farm with her husband, James, young son, Patrick and her mother-in-law. They form a close friendship and soon both women are fighting their mutual attraction for one another.
Both Jaq and Molly are well-developed and three-dimensional characters. Of the two women, Jaq is the more vibrant and outspoken. She has traveled extensively and her experiences as an ambulance driver in Europe continue to haunt her. Jaq fully accepts and explores her sexuality and she is upfront with Molly about her growing feelings.
Molly is not exactly happy with her life, but she tries to make the best of it. While she cares for her much older husband, James, she does not love him or feel much passion for him. Her mother-in-law is a termagant and nothing Molly does can satisfy her. Molly is devoted to her son Patrick and she is happiest when she is playing the piano and composing new songs. The closer she gets to Jaq, the more dissatisfied Molly becomes with her life.
Husbands James and Eric play very minor roles and remain on the periphery of the story. We see more of Eric as he struggles to recover from his war injuries and an addiction to alcohol. James is a rather weak character who is a good father but a terrible husband. He is a mama’s boy who refuses to defend Molly against his mother’s constant criticism.
Molly’s mother-in-law is absolutely horrible. Opinionated and disappointed in James’s decision to marry Molly, she is hypercritical of everything Molly does. There are a few times when we see her in a more favorable light, but unfortunately, those moments are short lived. Late in the story, she manipulates certain events to achieve her own goals.
The relationship between Molly and Jaq begins as friendship and is very slow growing. As Jaq shares more and more of her life abroad and experiences with the suffrage movement, Molly becomes more aware of the world outside the life she has made for herself. She discovers the self-confidence to stand up for herself and she becomes involved with local politics despite her mother-in-law’s disapproval.
While I enjoyed The Storm for the most part, the story was slow moving and a little disjointed. Jaq’s past was revealed little by little and some of it seemed out of sequence so it was a little difficult to follow. Jaq and Molly are likable characters, and their emotions for one another are believable, but their romance is very drawn out and we never really them together except as friends.
The Storm is very well researched and Shelley Thrasher does a excellent job weaving together fact and fiction. The references to historical events such as the Galveston hurricane, the Spanish Flu epidemic and the suffrage movement add depth and interest to the overall storyline.
Overall an entertaining and enlightening read that fans of historical romances will enjoy.