Reviews

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite Tour of Duty by William H Coles is set in France, in the tumultuous 1960s at the onset of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and conflict in Vietnam at the height of the Cold War. The story unravels as physician Miles Ballard, inducted to serve in the US Air Force, arrives for his tour of duty at the US Air Station in Châteauroux. He is met at the airport by Ingrid Stern who works for development as a paid guide for newcomers and is also a US Air Force doctor’s wife. What follows is a close look at the lives of American servicemen and their families as they cope with living in a hostile atmosphere and deal with the bureaucracy of military life.

William H Coles’ Tour of Duty explores the life of Miles Ballard who has to set aside his desire for further training as a surgeon when he is drafted by the US military at a time when nuclear war threatens to explode between Russia and the United States. He will meet many different characters here that will give readers an interesting picture of life at the base. Well researched and easy to read, the story gives us a realistic glimpse of life in a US Airbase in France, from the point of view of the draftees and their families. The plot is well structured with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. The book also deals with some aftermath of the explosive atrocities of the Second World War and it is a highly engrossing read!

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty is a work of fiction in the historical and realistic drama subgenres and it is a standalone work. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by William H. Coles. In his new novel, this prolific author brings life in the 1960s to full living color, focusing heavily on France and its experiences during the Cold War. American Air Force physician Miles Ballard takes a central role as he follows his path to surgical qualifications, and Ingrid, the wife of Miles’s best friend, seeks out long-lost relatives in the horrifying aftermath of the Holocaust. What results is a tale of many paths crossing and how resilient the human spirit must be against clashes of culture and morality.

Having read many works by William H. Coles before, I knew I would get a very detailed, highly atmospheric, and deeply committed novel that sought to bring a powerful message forward. I was thoroughly rewarded by this fascinating story and its unique setting, the likes of which I’d never even considered before. Coles has a knack for delivering cultural sensibilities and tensions in a way that never feels gimmicky, and he presents realistic drama that hits deep in the reader’s heart, but never with any unnecessary fanfare or staged drama. As a result, Tour of Duty is a powerfully emotive work that balances out its high literary style with dynamic central characters, key emotional scenes, and heartfelt dialogue to tell the tale of a country in crisis, and the outsiders who have to survive there.

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty by William H. Coles is a historical novel set in post-war France in the 60s, principally on an American airbase, part of Europe’s defensive strategies against the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union. Miles Ballard was a newly graduated doctor, drafted into the United States Air Force and posted to the Châteauroux Air Base in France. He immediately struggles with the strict military protocol and the apparent clash between the physicians’ commitment to do what is best for their patients and the military’s focus on budgets and discipline. After befriending a fellow doctor, Oliver, he discovers in Oliver’s wife, Ingrid, a common interest in art, French culture, and history. Miles, though, struggles to make romantic connections with anyone in France, still suffering from the recent rejection by his fiancée whose aristocratic and old-money Boston family determined that he was simply not of good enough stock for them, let alone a suitable husband for their daughter. Determined to do his best for his patients, Miles constantly finds himself at odds with the hospital administrator Colonel Springer whose bad temper and arrogant, misogynistic behavior were in direct conflict with Miles’s beliefs of patient care first and foremost. We follow Miles’s adventures in France as he tries to fit into a country and a culture, where, as an American military officer, he often seems despised and unwanted.

Tour of Duty is a deeply character-driven book that gives us an insight into the conditions and attitudes of post-WWII Europe. Author William H. Coles has done a good job of creating an eclectic web of characters and relationships who often feel trapped in a foreign land and unable to adapt to the culture and the animosity frequently aimed at them. I was surprised, that for the Americans on the airbase, many turned inward and sought solace amongst themselves, rather than experiencing the different and exciting cultural opportunities that Western Europe had to offer. For many of the dependants of military personnel, the harsh reality was often loneliness and isolation which led to disproportionate occurrences of 3 suicide, especially among military wives. I was pleased the author expanded on this and included it in Miles’s story. The tensions and fears of living in Western Europe, under the direct threat of imminent nuclear attack by the Soviets during the Cold War, is something that people struggle to understand these days, so I particularly appreciated the author’s touching on this tension and pressure in his narrative. Ultimately, this novel is a literary exploration of cultural mores of the time through the vehicle of relationships and love and also highlights the juxtaposition of military efficiency and expediency against the medical profession’s sworn commitment to their patients. I felt the author did a good job of exploring these two aspects. This is a gentle, enjoyable read and I can recommend it.

Reviewed by Adanna Ora for Readers’ Favorite

During the Cold War and with the prospect of a nuclear attack, Miles Ballard, an American medical officer who also works in the army, travels to France for training. He is forced to work with an unreasonable and narrow-minded superior and serve as the general’s doctor, a role that other people avoid for strange reasons. He instantly makes friends with Oliver and Ingrid, who is Oliver’s wife. The biggest obstacle Miles faces is choosing between upholding 2 the army’s highly regarded hierarchy system and acting morally. Due to this ambivalence, he frequently gets into difficulty and finds himself in challenging circumstances. As if this weren’t enough, Miles begins to feel strongly attracted to Ingrid, the wife of his best friend, who appears to feel the same way. Read Williams H. Coles’ book, Tour of Duty, to learn more about Miles Ballard’s life.

Tour of Duty is a historical novel that depicts the bureaucratic nature of the American army, even in opposition to moral precepts, in the years following the Holocaust and during the Cold War. It also explores the protagonists’ passion for the arts, music, and religion. Themes in Tour of Duty include love, goodness, sacrifice, passion, pride, and regret. These themes significantly contribute to the lessons we learn in life. Tour of Duty teaches us how to handle challenging circumstances and never to lose who we are only to appease or impress others. Tour of Duty also addresses the negative aspects of families and how to spot manipulation. Toxicity in marriage is also very effectively illustrated. This is an excellent piece by William H. Coles.

Reviewed by Kayleigh Perumal for Readers’ Favorite

William H. Coles is a realistic novel set in France during the 1940s. Miles Ballard is the charming young protagonist sent to work as a doctor in the air force. Honest, hardworking, and ambitious, Miles is liked by everyone he meets, except his superior, Colonel Barney Springer, who makes life difficult for Miles. Springer refuses to support any of Miles’s projects and continuously berates him for taking the initiative. He misinterprets Miles’s honesty and desire to do the right thing as insubordination and punishes him for it. Where Miles is ethical and kind, Springer is unscrupulous and callous. Miles also befriends Oliver and Ingrid Stern, with whom he shares many dinners and memories. From ski trips to art and French lessons, Miles’s time in France is life-changing, and the people he meets along the way leave a lasting impression.

William H. Coles uses the aftermath of the Second World War as the historical backdrop for Tour of Duty. He does not overlook the racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and atrocities that plagued European society during this time but instead weaves these themes together to enhance and aid the story’s plausibility. The dialogue is vibrant and assists in carving out the characters’ personalities. Coles should also be commended for his portrayal of the female characters in the novel. Ingrid, Alyce, Belinda-Mae, and Agnes stand out because of their depth and individual storylines. Gripping and unpredictable, anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a touch of romance will find this an uplifting read.

Reviewed by Iza Grek for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty by William H. Coles is a historical novel set in France in the 1960s. Central character Miles Ballard arrives at the US Air Force base and soon gets a taste of the French hostility towards Americans. Nevertheless, his work as a physician is all-consuming as he attends to not only General Thomas Read but many who seek his medical expertise. Miles’s life is interwoven with the other military doctor, Oliver Stern, and his wife Ingrid who is writing a book about the Holocaust. The general’s daughter, Alyce Read, is a journalist writing about the same topic. Coles’ telling of Miles’s unrequited love for Emily is bittersweet and maintains a strong thread right into later chapters when the woman who shunned him many years ago seeks to reconcile after 20 years of an unhappy marriage, an uncomfortable mirror to Ingrid who admits to being unhappy in her marriage. This is just one of the many examples of Cole’s strong story-telling ability.

William H. Coles writes with a lovely spread of rich dialogue and colorful narrative that effortlessly moves the story along. As well as literary, Coles’s work is also educational. I had not heard of the Milice, a paramilitary organization set up in France, and found this to be an interesting piece of history. His characters are quite believable and add to the contextual authenticity of the story. Coles’s knack for overlaying historical facts with a fictional narrative makes it easy for the reader to consume. I found Tour of Duty most enjoyable and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty by William H Coles is an outstanding literary historical work set during the Cold War, in post-war France. In 1960, Miles Ballard is inducted to serve in the US Air Force. He arrives in France and immediately becomes aware of the French hostility to Americans. Miles’s hope of providing patients with proper care is hindered by military bureaucracy and an antagonistic boss. His social circle includes Oliver, a fellow military doctor, and his wife, Ingrid, who is researching the Holocaust and plans to write a book about it. He becomes acquainted with Alyce Read, the daughter of a general who Miles is assigned to care for. Alyce is a journalist who is investigating the war and plans to document the atrocities committed.

William H Coles writes with a keen historical sense, bringing the setting to life through his precise descriptions of life in France during the 1960s. The characters he creates are not just ordinary figures but realistic, compelling people with authentic stories and emotional depth. I was consistently immersed in the story and found the subplots unique and captivating. I also found the dialogues entertaining. Many scenes were genuinely surprising and the story’s end was rewarding. The book is also enlightening as it delves into France’s history and the events surrounding the war. Tour of Duty by William H Coles is a masterful historical novel written with insight. It is a fine work with extraordinary characters that effectively explores Europe’s prevailing circumstances following WWII. I loved this book. It is captivating and well-written.

Reviewed by Gordon D. Durich for Readers’ Favorite

Americans in France. Not so unusual, or is it? Tour of Duty by William H. Coles is set in 1960s Europe in the Cold War era during a nuclear attack threat. Physician Miles Ballard is serving in the Air Force at US Air Station, Châteauroux, France. Ingrid, the beautiful wife of Ballard’s best friend Oliver Stern, there to locate lost relatives in the Holocaust and ascertain their fates, welcomes Miles. Enter Alyce Read, a New York Herald Tribune writer in France, on assignment to cover the war’s personal devastation. Ballard’s ambitions to serve versus his conflict with his ethics and morals make for hostility. Impeding the doctor’s challenging mission includes confronting the military hospital and his personal demons.

William H. Coles creates a world of historical intrigue in Tour of Duty. As a reader and a writer, I admired his narrative building and development of a darn good story. Written with strong believable characterization and a dialogue-driven plot, Tour of Duty is a perfect Sunday afternoon read. As an American citizen and European born, I loved the exotic backdrop and the culture climate of the period, for example, the reference to all-American “Coke” versus Sancerre Rouge pinot noir wine. I would like to experience more of this writer’s work. Highly descriptive, this novel would translate well into a solid and engaging screenplay. I, for one, would definitely pay to see the film version. Thank you for such a great read.

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty follows a set of characters at a US Air Force base in 1960s France during the Cold War. Written by William H. Coles, the book opens with Miles Ballard, a physician newly drafted into the Air Force who finds himself assigned as the GMO to Brigadier General Thomas Read of the Châteauroux Air Base. After arriving in Châteauroux, Miles soon becomes friends with fellow doctor Oliver Stern and his wife, Ingrid. When the General’s daughter Alyce Read, a journalist, arrives in Châteauroux, she accompanies Ingrid in her research for a book about her family members who suffered at the hands of the Nazis during the occupation. Meanwhile, Miles continues to battle his superiors regarding the treatment of the hospital staff. Over the years, these characters develop a special bond that will last a lifetime.

If you like to immerse yourself in slice-of-life stories, Tour of Duty is the perfect book for you. Author William H. Coles weaves an intricate yarn about a group of individuals from varying backgrounds who cross each other’s paths during the Cold War in the 1960s on an American air base in France. The plot is a slow burn but immensely delicious to consume. Character interactions primarily drive the narrative forward and lay the groundwork to show the inner conflicts and motives of said characters. Miles, Ingrid, Oliver, Alyce, and even Emily form an interesting dynamic, and every scene involving any combination of these characters was a treat to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers’ Favorite

Tour of Duty, a gripping novel by William H. Coles, is set in France during the 1960s. It is here that Miles Ballard serves as a doctor in the Air Force. Although he becomes the General’s physician, the hospital commander considers any suggestion insubordination. Our hero’s life interweaves with that of other characters as a Jewish woman who seeks information about her family; an ex-girlfriend who would like to reconnect; and a journalist who is the adopted daughter of the General and is not loved by her family. They and others contribute to a great story that takes place in a country where the memory of the Republic of Vichy is still alive and, at the same time, has to face the threats of the Cold War.

Tour of Duty is one of those books where the reader truly feels part of the world the author describes. William H. Coles writes the dialogues between the characters very well so that the reading is pleasant, and the narration of the events is easy to follow. Even though there are many main characters and episodes, the reader never feels overwhelmed and wants to continue reading to discover what will happen next. I do not have a favorite character because everyone is important, but I have to admit that Miles and Ingrid (his Jewish friend) are those who impressed me the most. Tour of Duty is a book that will not disappoint readers looking for a compelling story, and I am sure they, too, will be as enthralled by it as I am.

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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    William H. Coles has brought to life a myriad of characters that help to shape up Tour of Duty into a wonderful story. The main character has also been well-developed; he is very imperfect, but yet kind and thoughtful. The book is clearly well written, and it is very obvious that the author has put a lot of work into researching the facts. Coles has also put real-life emotions and events into the book, depicting the varying tendencies of the human nature. He easily portrays and contrasts the easy-going nature of the Americans to the rigid nature of the French. The book also contains a couple of subplots that entertain and educate the reader.
    In my opinion, there are no negative aspects in this book. Tour of Duty is the perfect mix of fiction and historical facts that shaped our world majorly. The themes addressed in this book invoke a lot of thoughts and views; especially for me, I wondered how different the world would be if some atrocities had been avoided. This book is comfortable to read as it contains some minor profanity. It is also exceptionally well edited, as I came across no errors. I am happy to rate this book four out of four stars for the above reasons.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    Life is an adventure, a journey. Sometimes we face troubles but troubles may lead to good things when we learn a lesson from them. That’s the main message shared by William H. Coles in his historical fiction book entitled Tour Of Duty.
    I really love this book and I recommend it to those who need motivation in life. It is for both young people and adults.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    This book is written in a way that each of the chapters has its own separate plot (similar to a “slice of life” story). It’s also written from multiple points of view, which adds depth to the overall storyline. This is a unique writing format, especially for historical fiction. It’s a breath of fresh air from the tense, gloomy, and tragic nature of most wartime historical fiction.
    There are so many positive things about this book such as the complex characters, the simple yet gripping plot, and how well it portrays the post-WWII world. It’s a wonderful piece to just pick up when you want a quick read that leaves you feeling warm inside. One of the things I personally love about this book is how it makes the readers feel what the characters are feeling. From the happiness, hate, grief, and frustration, I often find myself feeling the same emotions that the characters are, which is something not a lot of books are able to do.
    Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 4. It’s a genuinely good book that will be perfect for anyone looking for a quick read that makes them feel happy inside. Reading this book was a blast and I enjoyed every moment of it. It’s an wonderful, down-to-earth, heart-warming, and gripping book that I believe all historical fiction fans need to pick up and read.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    This book allows the reader to get an insight into what living in such times could feel like. The book portrays what finding or not finding self and love can cost us as human beings. I believe in finding love and happiness if you earnestly seek it and take the right steps towards it. After reading this book, I am convinced that this book will be an inspiration to people who have lost hope in humanity that yes, there will always be evil people with ill personalities, but it’s up to us – whether we have been hurt by people or have hurt people ourselves – to decide to take the bus on a route of change. It will also be an inspiration to people who feel they are incapacitated to love or receive love because of how hurt the past relationships in their life had rendered them. I love and admire the support Miles and Ingrid rendered to each other through the journey of the book. I love the mixed culture that was represented in this book, I could see the francophones properly and could see the western culture properly, there wasn’t any blur. The family life, ranging from the ill-structured ones to the beautifully organized ones, was very entertaining to read. I found no error in this book, it is safe to say this was properly edited and the historical events accurately dated.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. The writing was very compelling and it got me hooked from the very first sentence. It had the perfect balance between historical facts and fiction. The story was very interesting and the historical facts were not overwhelming. Instead, they complimented it really well. Something else that I appreciated in the writing was the number of descriptive details of the characters and scenes. The author goes over the details in a very measured way and very specific moments. It makes me appreciate them even more. Not overly tiring and leaves some space for the imagination. There were a lot of different characters but all were very well introduced and sporadically throughout the chapters and storyline.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to read good fiction enriched by historical facts without the second overpowering the first one, and loves to follow a story with a plot replete with many interesting characters.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    What I loved most about the book was the author’s fluidity and how he was able to connect each chapter. All the characters in the book had their unique characteristics, but they still connected very well throughout the book. I loved the historical references made in the book. I was able to learn more about the Holocaust and the Cold War.
    The book contained no errors. I will rate the book 4 out of 4 stars because I found it to be very captivating. I will recommend it to people who are interested in romance and history. I will also recommend it to people who are interested in themes like war.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    The book is excellent. I can’t say anything negative about it. The only thing I didn’t like was that I wished the book was even longer. I did not want to part with the main characters of the novel.
    I rate this novel four out of four stars because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I got pleasure from reading it and also discovered something new for me. For example, I have not heard about the Dachau concentration camp. I also didn’t know about Miliciens and the Vichy government, which supported the Nazi leaders.
    This book will be of interest to those people who are interested in history, love, and romance. I was reading it without stopping. As for me, I discovered a new author William H. Coles for me. So I am planning to read other of his books soon..
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    I liked a number of aspects of the book. It is less than twenty years after World War II and memories of German atrocities are still fresh in the minds of the local population. There is still distrust of people suspected of having been Nazi collaborators. The author handles this subject delicately without making it an overarching theme of the book.
    Ballard and his friends capitalise on their location in central Europe by taking holiday trips to, inter alia, Tyrol and Pamplona which are well described and eventful in terms of the characters’ personalities and interactions. He shares a number of interests and activities with Ingrid, wife of his best friend Dr Oliver Stern. Although he clearly develops feelings for her, the author rather cleverly keeps the reader in suspense regarding the outcome of this relationship.
    The book was clearly very well edited as I found no errors. Coles’ descriptions of medical procedures throughout the book are simple yet effective. However, he makes occasional use of the French vernacular which the average reader may not comprehend. For example, who knows that a “deux chevaux” is a tiny Citroën sedan motor vehicle? These are few and far between and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book which I rate four out of four stars. I recommend it unreservedly to those who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of romantic intrigue.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    The book is enthralling and the end is really satisfying.
    I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The author creates emotional appeal when he writes about the experiences of non-Aryan during The Nazi rule. There is a lot to learn from the book, for instance, enabling the world to understand the dire consequences of ruling with selfish intent. The book is written in clear, simple language with a steady flow of events that make it easy to read. Through various characters, the author showcases major aspects of French culture as well as the general life in military camps. I recommend this book to anyone above the age of seventeen because of its simple structure. The author makes it easy to understand how life was after the Second World War.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    I found this book to be one of a kind. It’s one thing to be presented with an amazing plot, and another to be taken back in time to the 1960s. But all thanks to Williams, these two were fused perfectly together. My favorite character in this book is Miles. I admire greatly his calm and composed manner, love, passion, and devotion he always has towards his patients and tasks. My favorite aspect of this book is the history, art, and tour around France. This was done by Ingrid, who is from the base travel office. Just by the descriptions of France provided in this book, I was transported back in time. The cities, art galleries, dressing, and not to mention the devastating event of the Holocaust narrated by characters in this book, is one that would make you glued to your seat as you read.
    In truth, I found nothing to hate or dislike about this book. The plot was straight to the point, easy to read, and also interesting. This book had no trace of typos or errors, showing it is exceptionally well edited. Just with the author’s style and presentation, I would read this book over and over if I have to. All I can say is that I am deeply impressed. There are also so many things to learn from this book. One of which I quote is, “we are inspired by others, but we must not be copiers. It’s best to seek elements of another’s success and use them to discover your originality”. It’s my favorite quote in this book.
    Finally, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I believe it’s well deserved my rating because of my above praises. I recommend it to lovers of historical and adventure books. Those interested in art can also find this book interesting.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    The positive aspects of this book are quite glaring and sobering. You get to discover truths about our society and the reality we wake up to each day and how everyone else fares in it. We get to see people’s responses to norms and values, their perception of love and fulfillment and the never ending quest for happiness. We are made to see the resignation to a life we feel we can do so little to change towards the end of our journey and the regrets that so well plague us. Reality is placed side by side with truth and it has us open to the possibility that we can find comfort in the end only if we do not hold back from taking the necessary steps to discovering ourselves as individuals first and subsequently as part of a system. One is given the boldness he might need to step away from the norm for a brief moment can consider what lies ahead and how he fits into it, such discovery helping to create fulfillment and inspiration filled with excitement towards what lies ahead. Satisfying and keeps one earnestly waiting with expectations of what might be.
    The negative aspects were non-existent for me. The author never put a foot wrong and all that was shown was a reflection of life as it truly is; the expected, the unexpected, reality and desire. There was no painting of fantasy for reality of any sort and everything written was relatable.
    I will be rating this book 4 out of 4 because unlike most books, this here is a work that portrays the challenges individuals face fitting into the society, the problem with hierarchy and the never ending choices we have to make bearing in mind life, love and duty. A very sobering work, we are left asking ourselves that next and if everything truly is worth it, the sacrifice, the pain, the people and especially how we feel.
    I would recommend this book to lovers of adventure, love, life, those with an interest in military and wars and to everyone who wants to get a glimpse of how life can be.
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  • Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    What I loved most about the book was how the author was able to give us an insight into the character’s mind. I felt connected to the character. I felt angry when the commander kept rejecting his ideas, even though it was going to save many lives. I wondered if the military found it hard to make changes because they disliked deviating from their normal routines.
    The book was easy to read and comprehend. The author used themes like romance, suspense, and action to keep the book engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I loved the author’s writing style. I loved the relationship between the main character and his friends.
    I found it hard to put the book down. The book was easy to digest and understand. The book flowed beautifully. I always wanted to know what would happen next. I wanted to know how miles faced his challenges and conquered them. I wanted to know if he would find love. This book also speaks of themes like friendship and marriage. The author did a splendid job with this book.
    There was nothing I disliked about the book. I loved the plot of the book and the author’s writing style. Therefore, I will rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. I will recommend this book to people who are interested in history and romance.
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