#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out.
Synopsis: During the Great War, a young munitions worker arrives in Gretna, Scotland, bearing the name of Tilly Lockheart. What the family who take in Tilly, including their auldest son, a discharged RAF captain, don’t know is that there’s more to Tilly than meets the eye. And what Rose Graham, the woman behind the name, hasn’t an inkling of, is the immense responsibility that she’s taken on by claiming to be her deceased best friend. In fact, she may even find the weight of an entire war upon her shoulders.
Favorite Quote: “I've fallen in love with you. Tilly or Rose, it matters not. You're the same lass to me, either way.”
First things first, let’s all agree that any novel set in Scotland is automatically a great book.
Good. Moving on.
No, I’m serious. The vibrancy of the setting and the lovely Scottish accents made this novel, and if nothing else, Kate Breslin captured a bit of the Scots spirit in her latest release, As Dawn Breaks.
She also captured a bit of the hardworking, sacrificial spirits of the women during WWI, particularly munitions workers like Rose, Tilly, and Hannah, as well as the deception and politics of war.
One of my favorite things of this novel is how she wove all of that in. From the accent into Alex’s narrative (artfully done, by the way) to the intrigue and suspense. All of her novels thus far have had this perfect blend of the everyday life during a war—including the surface perception of what went on—and the espionage and political games behind the scenes. She also weaves in sweet romance and subtle themes that come together for a lovely story!
I will be honest (y’all know I’m always painfully honest), there were some elements I didn’t enjoy. I’d like to get them out of the way first thing, if you don’t mind.
Alex. I really don’t want to hate on the main man, but to me Alex was a little too cynical and bitter for me to connect with, and as shallow as it sounds, it wasn’t the most romantic either. I think, had we had time to dive deeper into his character and have more interaction between him and his family, he would’ve been a fabulous hero. But because of a lack of depth (at least, a perceived lack of depth), he didn’t really reach his full potential.
Hannah. I’m sorry, y’all, but every moment with her was pure botheration. I’m sixteen years old, with a sister who’s fourteen and friends who are fifteen. Believe me when I tell you that most teenage girls in the twenty-first century don’t act as immature as she did—let alone girls in the early 1900s. She acted more like a twelve-year-old from the modern day, and not only was that jarring, it also just drove me slap crazy, because no one I know at that age (nor myself) would act like she did.
The deception. I know, I know, it’s a plot machination and without Rose telling a couple lies, we wouldn’t have had a book. I totally understand that. But what I don’t understand was how Breslin just let Rose off the hook. She never received any of the consequences for her actions, and to me it seemed like “working for the government” was all the justification she needed. On top of that, there was never any mention of God’s thoughts on lying (it’s a sin, in case you were wondering); instead, Rose reflects several times on how God seemed to be planning all of it out for her. Yes, God helps and guides His children. Yes, He provides for them. But, no, He doesn’t condone their sin, regardless of how much good they do, nor does He guide them toward committing it. Rather, He offers a way out of temptation (SCRIPTURE REFERENCE NEEDED).
Plus, on a Chauvinist Grace™ side note (gotta love those, amirite?), Rose made some feminist comments that, to me, didn’t jive with her respective, demure personality. The whole “I stood up against a bully and became a superhero for all women” was just...outrageous. Unless you destroyed all traces of the male species, you did not save all women across the planet from sexism. It’s quite obvious that anyone can be a bully, regardless of their gender, by the way Colleen and the other girls torture Rose. But that’s apparently not the same as a man making a few snide comments. Anyway, yeah. For a different character, I might let it slide, but for Rose it just seemed out of place.
And this is where I don’t make a big deal out of how this was yet another escaping-an-arranged-marriage story, because if I did we’d be here all day. Seriously, though. It’s getting old. Can we please come up with a new plot device? One that’s more accurately portrayed? Thank you.
Well, that takes care of that! *dusts hands* Now, apart from all that mumbo-jumbo, I must commend Breslin on dethroning the Lady of Assumptions (the name change is official, people). The plot twists and curveballs she threw at me...I didn’t see a single one coming! This novel was anything but predictable!
Speaking of, can I please make a big deal about seeing Simon, Eve, and of course Marcus again? (Please don’t ask how that has anything to do with plot twists…) Seriously, I just loved seeing them again, and I’m sorry, but if this woman doesn’t give Marcus a book soon, I’ll have to have a talk with her. I’ve been in love with the guy since Day One, and y’all, he needs a story. Marcus Weatherford needs a story.
So maybe the reoccurring characters were my favorites (they were), and maybe Rose wasn’t perfect. Although that may just be the case (it is), I have to admit that I adored Rose’s sweet disposition and her love and respect for the Bairds. What a refreshment after all the snarky, rude heroines permeating the book world! And, yes, Mr. and Mrs. Baird were precious.
So was the gentle romance. Even though Alex wasn’t a prime candidate for a love story in my mind, there have been worse heroes. Like, way worse heroes. And I think that once he got over his distaste for Rose (the first time, at least), he became quite the sweet, caring love interest and older brother, and I craved more time between him and Rose.
I also loved the faith elements. I do think the deception part was off, but otherwise, I’m grateful that Breslin hasn’t fallen prey to the dilution of Christian fiction! This novel wasn’t preachy by a long shot, but it certainly didn’t ignore God. Rose prayed and relied on Him, even if she didn’t always consult Him like she ought, which was greatly appreciated.
What? The souls of all people matter—even fictional ones.
Long story short, As Dawn Breaks wasn’t perfect, no, but it was sweet, subtle, suspenseful, and all-around lovely. Kate Breslin always delivers a well-rounded novel full of intrigue and romance, and she doesn’t disappoint this time! She even threw in some Scottish accents, which is worth fifty stars in and of itself!
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided bythe publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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About the Author
Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing's 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her first novel, For Such A Time, won American Christian Fiction Writers 2015 Carol Award. Kate's latest novel, Far Side of the Sea, released in March, 2019. When she's not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington's beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, Barcelona, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas. Please visit her at www.katebreslin.com