by Sandra Ardoin
With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. … Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country’s cause.
Not by Sight is Kate Breslin’s second novel. Though it’s the first I’ve read, this captivating story won’t be the last.
As a sign of patriotism, Grace Mabry crashes a party to hand out white feathers of cowardice to those who refused to defend Britain in World War I. It’s a bold move, even for a woman who prides herself on being a suffragette. Jack Benningham has a reputation as a ladies man, gambler, carouser, you name it. He’s also Grace’s target at the party.
Grace is a well-rounded character, devoted to her family, especially her soldier brother, and she has a heart for helping others in need. Though a bit naive at the beginning, the horrors of war soon hit her. Publicly, Jack is an avowed conscientous objector to the war. Secretly, he works for the government unmasking German spies, which gives the plot automatic conflict. (No spoilers here.)
After the debacle at the party, Grace’s father ships her to the Benningham’s Roxwood estate to serve with the Women’s Forage Corps. There she bales hay on Jack’s land, while he struggles to come to terms with the debilitating injuries he suffered in an explosion he blames on Grace’s father, a suspected spy.
There is so much to enjoy about this book. Besides the ups and downs of a sweet love story, Not by Sight is a tale of conspiracy and spies, loyalty and betrayal, redemption and regret, mystery and accusations with deadly consequences. Of course, it takes its title from 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We live by faith, not by sight,” which pretty much sums up Jack’s physical and spiritual need.
The one weakness, in my opinion, resulted from Jack’s character. Though one line later in the book indicates he was not as bad a rake as everyone believed, I think it conflicted with his own thoughts earlier. I also believe that aspect of his character could have been played up to be a bigger conflict between he and Grace.
The spy resolution caught me mostly by surprise. I say mostly because I got it just pages before it was revealed. That’s a good thing! In my opinion, the author did a wonderful job of downplaying the mystery and couching just enough hints in the story to let her readers think back and realize, “Aha! I see it now.”
If you enjoy some snappy banter between a hero and heroine (loved the scenes of their drives into the country together), as well as a bit of wartime intrigue, I highly recommend this new release by Kate Breslin.
Historical Flavor: I liked that Ms. Breslin set the story around a little-known historical fact of the war waged from the homefront. The women of the WFC did their patriotic duty working on the farms and in the fields of Great Britain so the horses and mules used at the front would have the food they needed to sustain them in their service. Regardless of their efforts, millions of the animals never made it back home.
Let’s dig a little deeper:
As I stated in the review, Grace has a heart for helping people, even though she realizes she could have done more. Have you ever been in a situation where you regretted that you didn’t go far enough in your assistance? Have you had your kindheartedness returned to you when needed?
Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.