I really had to join in, didn’t I? I’m delighted today to be joining the blog blitz for Endless Skies by Jane Cable: published on 27th July by Sapere Books, this lovely book is available for kindle (only 99p until 23rd October, and always free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback. My thanks to both the publishers and the author for my advance reading copy, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support – and to Jane for allowing me to share my review for a second time. And – lest I leave you in any doubt (and I do somehow doubt that!) – I thought this book was quite wonderful…
As archaeologist Rachel excavates a World War Two airfield, could a love story from the past hold a lesson for her as well?
After yet another disastrous love affair Rachel has been forced to leave her long-term position for a temporary role as an Archaeology Lecturer at Lincoln University. Rachel has sworn off men and is determined to spend her time away clearing her head and sorting her life out. But when one of her students begins flirting with her, it seems she could be about to make the same mistakes again…
She distracts herself by taking on some freelance work for local property developer, Jonathan Daubney. He introduces her to an old Second World War RAF base. And from her very first visit something about it gives Rachel chills…
As Rachel makes new friends and delves into local history, she is also forced to confront her own troubled past. Could a wartime love story have any bearing on her own situation? Could this time be different?
So, one more time for my review? My absolute pleasure…
The prologue to this book is particularly striking and beautifully written – an exhausted airman flying home over the cornfields of Lincolnshire, an unexplained moment of panic when he spots something he doesn’t entirely understand, then looking forward to being reunited with the woman he plans to marry.
And then we move into the contemporary story, as Rachel Ward explores the antique centre at the former Hemswell military base, feeling the echoes of its past. It’s a brave author who makes her main character less than likeable on first encounter – there’s a lingering sadness about her following the loss of her grandmother, but also a self-contained abrasiveness that means she might just take a while to win your heart. She also has an unfortunate tendency to be attracted to unsuitable men – she’s an archaeology lecturer, and her latest mistake was her married professor in Southampton. That resulted in her exile to Lincoln, a twelve month visiting lectureship at the university, living in a modern show flat overlooking the canal that she can’t bear spending time in, followed by an attraction to yet another unsuitable man – student Ben – with inevitable problems to follow.
But things settle down – as she relieves the pressures of her life by running, she rediscovers the delights of simple friendship with Jem, who lives on an industrial barge with his characterful dog Toast. Wanting desperately to get earth under her nails again rather spending her time in the world of academia and office politics, she takes on some freelance work for local property developer Jonathan Daubney – perhaps another unsuitable man? – surveying potential building sites for any archaeological significance. And her growing fascination with local history brings another new friend – Esther, living in the local care home, who provides real insights into the history of the airbase she’s surveying. And I really warmed to Rachel as she slowly unfurled – and the reasons for her insularity, her unwise choices, and her attitude to men become increasingly clear.
There’s a really strong romantic thread at the story’s centre – beginning with a series of misunderstandings, it’s realistic and believable, and I very much enjoyed it, along with the way the characters involved were developed. But there’s a great deal more than romance to this book, with threat and danger coming from a few different directions, moments of real drama really well handled, along with those echoes of the past and a touch of the supernatural that I really loved. The intricacies of the story are fascinating – although only hinted at early in the story, the way the past and present become increasingly intertwined is quite wonderfully done, and with a very sure emotional touch.
The setting is particularly significant to the story, and the author’s wonderful descriptions really bring it to life – Lincolnshire’s wide open spaces under that endless sky, the towpaths and dykes, the antiques centre on the former airbase, the lovely village of Winteringham. The characterisation is excellent too, the main characters satisfyingly building in depth and complexity as we get to know them better, their exchanges particularly real and moving the story forward – and I will admit to having a particularly soft spot for Esther, who is so beautifully and sympathetically drawn rather than simply providing that important link with the past.
I’ve always loved Jane Cable’s writing – she’s a natural storyteller, with an easy style that really draws you in – and I don’t think she’s ever written better than this. Highly recommended – I absolutely loved it.
Go on, you might love it too – and it’s only 99p until tomorrow!
About the author
Jane Cable writes romance with a twist, that extra something to keep readers guessing right to the end. While her books are character driven, her inspiration is always a British setting; so far a village in Yorkshire (The Cheesemaker’s House), a Hampshire wood (The Faerie Tree), gorgeous Studland Bay in Dorset (Another You) and rural Lincolnshire (Endless Skies).
She published her first two novels independently, and has now been signed by Sapere Books.
She was born and raised in Cardiff but spent most of her adult life living near Chichester, before she and her husband upped sticks and moved to Cornwall three years ago.
She is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and contributing editor to Frost online magazine.