Tuesday, March 29, 2016

NOT BY SIGHT by Kate Breslin ~ Reviewed

About the Book:
In the spring of 1917, all of Britain's attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.

A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country's cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.

But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death.

How I learned of the book:
After reading Kate’s For Such a Time, I couldn’t wait to read more of her work. At the 2015 American Christian Writers Conference I met Kate for the first time when she was dressed as Grace from NBS (I wish I’d taken a photo!). It was after this I learned Kate envisioned Chris Hemsworth as Jack Benningham, the hero in NBS. That’s when I added the book to my Christmas wish list. :)

Grace strikes me as the quintessential Christian romance heroine. Lovely, spunky, and driven, with a sassy mouth and a love for everyone around her—except the absurdly handsome playboy Jack Benningham, of course. Even then, I think she loves hating him a bit and especially loves the opportunity to write about the mystery surrounding him. Our hero reminded me of James Bond, Batman, and The Scarlet Pimpernel, all rolled together into a dashing, temperamental, high-handed, spoiled, very charming, very wounded hero we can root for.

The push/pull of two characters who mistrust one another so much was fun to read. This may be one of Kate’s specialties. In the beginning, I honestly didn’t see how they could ever overcome their differences and form a believable romance (I wondered the same with For Such A Time) but somehow, gradually and organic to the story, the characters yield ground one grain of sand at a time, not fully knowing it until they look back and wonder how they not only started tolerating, but sympathizing with and eventually loving, the enemy. The execution of the emotional transformation in this novel is one for writers to take note of and study.

In a time when everyone was suspect for spying, some shot for treason without sufficient evidence, WWI makes the perfect backdrop for this historical romantic suspense. Living with the heroine during her work with the Women’s Forage Corps and hiding out with the hero for reasons of his own grounded me in the stakes and motivations of characters personally touched by war. I particularly loved Kate’s varying the setting during the first half of the novel, even when the plot confines her characters to automobile rides, which shows her diligence in research and her love of travel. I was transported through the pages to the English countryside, the beach, and a carnival. Pure charm.

This book kept me guessing. I was amazed how every player had a key part in the overall story, and each individual thread built together into the final resolution. Kate has unbeatable talent for meshing twisty plots and lining things up for a beautiful, poignant resolution at the end. I did feel a teensy tiny disconnect toward the end when one of the off stage characters took the point-of-view during the hero's climactic moment, but the mystery of the ending kept tugging me toward the finish line. This book is definitely late-night-reading!

With every book I review, there are usually one or two aspects which I think really make the book sing. In Not By Sight, it’s the interconnected character plots, the organic feel of the main characters’ relationship, and the attention to history. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves reading a believable love story and taking a glimpse into history without slowing down the plot. I just heard Kate's planning another WWI book for 2017. Can't wait!

Comment Fodder:
Have you read any books, fiction or nonfiction, set in WWI? In a sentence or two, tell us what book, what it was about, and how you liked it.

Note: If you'd like to win a copy of Not By Sight or Kate's WWII retelling of Esther, For Such A Time, leave your email address in your comment (email AT server DOT com). US addresses can enter for paperback or e-book, non-US addresses can enter to win an e-book. 


  1. This is SO high on my To Be Read list! :)
    WWI books i most recently read were the two published books in Pepper Basham's Penned in Time Series--The Thorn Bearer and The Thorn Healer. SO so so good. :)

  2. Would love to win a coy of For Such A Time.
    A WW1 book that I enjoyed was The Flying Cavalier by Gilbert Morris.


  3. On my TBR list. Would love to win. Kate is a new author to me. Thank you for the chance. God bless.

  4. This book is on my wish list! Your review is so thorough, thank you for sharing!

    I recently read Pepper Basham's The ThornBearer and The Thorn Keeper. I loved the way she described the Lusitania and life in England at the time. Of course, the kisses are great, too!

    betherin02 AT gmail DOT com

  5. These books are now on my list of must reads! Would love to win a print book! Thanks for a chance to win! Have a Blessed Day!

  6. I just recently finished Through Deep Waters by Sarah Sundin, first WWII book I remember reading in a long time. I would love to read Not by Sight!


  7. Would love to win For Such A Time!
    A WW1 story I enjoyed was The Flying Cavalier by Gilbert Morris.


  8. Sounds like a lovely connection to Downton Abbey. :)

  9. Hi, everyone! I'm so excited you stopped by! I'm also VERY late responding to your comments, since I was on a writing deadline this week. Done now, thank the Lord! Best wishes to you all as we announce the winner soon! Thanks for commenting!!!

  10. Natalie, thank you! What a beautifully thoughtful review of Not By Sight, I'm so honored. I wish you every blessing in your writing journey! :-)


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