It’s a real pleasure today to join the mini blog blitz for Wild Blue Yonder by MW Arnold, the second in his Broken Wings series: published by Wild Rose Press on 26th July, it’s now available for kindle and in paperback via Amazon, with the ebook also available via iBooks and for Nook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author and publisher for my reading copy.
It really surprised me how much I enjoyed the first book in this lovely series, A Wing and a Prayer – a World War 2 saga, a cozy mystery, set around the day-to-day operations of the Air Transport Auxiliary. There was a tremendous authenticity about the wartime setting, with superb characterisation and a compelling murder mystery and investigation driving the story – all delivered with humour and a real lightness of touch (you’ll find my review here). Well, I must have enjoyed it, because I was more than happy to pick up the second – and I was rather looking forward to returning to Hamble and spending more time with the ladies of the ATA.
Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Doris Winter is accused of stealing a valuable item from a famous Hollywood movie star, now a captain in the US Army Air Corps, after a dance at the air base in England where he’s stationed. Gathering her close friends together, she’s determined to clear her name.
Ruth’s POW son suffers a life-changing injury just as her own cottage takes damage in an air raid and Penny’s estranged little sister unexpectedly turns up, having run away from school. Together with the ongoing thefts of items of clothing and surprise personal revelations, these all threaten to hamper their investigation.
In spite of the worsening war situation, they must band together to rise above their troubles and prove love and friendship is worth fighting for.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this lovely series – the fascinating detail about the Air Transport Auxiliary, the exceptional dedication and bravery of its women pilots, the authenticity the author brought to their day-to-day operations. But I also loved the cast of characters he introduced, and the vividly detailed and drawn wartime setting – and this book really was every bit as delightful as the first. If you haven’t visited Hamble before, it really wouldn’t matter at all, this book could quite happily be read as a stand-alone – but I do think you might enjoy it even more if you’d read the earlier story and understood the background and relationships between the large cast of characters.
There’s a multiplicity of small storylines, each featuring a different member of the team – all women, all friends, all pulling together in a way that entirely warms the heart. This time, there’s less of a cosy mystery feel about the book – although the thread about the Hollywood star’s handkerchief runs a little longer than some, beautifully handled and very original – and it’s perhaps more about the relationships between the women, the series of small dramas that affect their lives, and the way they support each other. Bobby the dog certainly has his moments too – his role as an early warning system at the approach of danger, and I loved his part in the disappearance of Penny’s lucky bra.
But while some of the threads of the story are light-hearted, and its major focus on the characters’ relationships and interactions, the story certainly doesn’t shy away from war’s realities – there’s a stunning and emotional scene at an airfield (all the more moving because wrapped around a lighter episode featuring the redoubtable Doris), the ever-present danger hits home for Ruth and her household, and there are timely reminders of the risks pilots take at every sortie and the concerns about family members who are already prisoners of war.
The wartime background is wonderfully recreated – the domestic detail, and day-to-day life on the base – and the book itself is perfectly paced and written with real confidence. I really felt that it was a book the author enjoyed writing, and that he loved his characters – and that really did make me love them too. Highly recommended to all.
I see that the next book in the series, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, will be published on 20th October and is available for preorder. I sadly can’t fit in the reading for the blog tour that Rachel is organising, but I’m sure it’ll win the author so many new fans as well as delighting those of us who already love this series – I’ll look forward to catching up with it later!
About the author
Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force before putting down roots and realizing how much he missed the travel. He’s replaced it somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and supporting fellow saga and romance authors in promoting their novels.
He’s the proud keeper of two cats bent on world domination, is mad on the music of the Beach Boys, and enjoys the theatre and humoring his Manchester United-supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick is a full member of the Romantic Novelists Association. Wild Blue Yonder is the second novel in his Broken Wings series and he is very proud to be a part of the Vintage Rose Garden at The Wild Rose Press.