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Romance And War, 1916

The Sins of Soldiers - S. J. Hardman Lea

It's 1916, and American reporter Anson is embedded undercover in a British infantry regiment on the Western Front, awaiting action. Anson's experience of life in the trenches isn't what he had expected: the realities of war aren't cut and dried and the relationships between soldiers vary from sadistic and cruel to divisive.


Part of Anson's job is to provide candid reports of these realities and part of it involves staying hidden; for if his true purposes are uncovered, he'll be killed by those around him.


The last thing he expects under such conditions is romance - but he meets Beatrice when the battalion is on leave from the front, and a dangerous association begins, involving a lovely woman already engaged to a soldier who has attracted the dangerous attention of a psychopathic leader.


There are many surprises in this historical novel, but first and foremost is its attention to varied and stormy relationships among the troops on the battlefield: something often glossed over in World War I accounts in favor of battle strategies and descriptions of war.


The Sins of Soldiers examines the reality of what it meant to be engaged in warfare during World War I, and this reveals diverse personalities of soldiers and commanders, the possibilities in relationships that aren't related to battlefield encounters, and the struggles of a reporter who hides his deception in favor of a greater good: providing candid insider accounts of what's really going on behind the lines.


Despite his sense of purpose, Anson is not always determined and comfortable with his choices.  As Anson inspects his feelings and questions his role, readers are carried into both a romance and an evolving conundrum.


Readers expecting the usual World War I story of military encounters, battles, and strategies will find The Sins of Soldiers operates on a satisfyingly different level than most, offering soul-searching insights and experiences that take the events of the war and move them into new emotional heights.


The result is a story packed with living, breathing protagonists whose choices and quandaries are far more wide-ranging than a military novel along could bring, making The Sins of Soldiers especially recommended for any who would understand the changing worldviews and inconvenient truths that overseas battles bring with them. It's truly a memorial to the missing and to what memory chooses to preserve, years later.