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Monday, July 4, 2011

This Time Forever by Linda Swift

This Time Forever by Linda Swift
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (230 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

The Civil War brought casualties beyond the bloody battlefields as North fought South. Philip Burke, against his family's wishes, volunteered to defend the Union and became a prisoner of war who bartered his medical expertise to remain out of prison. When the Union Army invaded Tennessee, Clarissa Wakefield's antebellum mansion became a Confederate hospital. Philip was placed in charge and against propriety she volunteered to stay on and help nurse the wounded. Clarissa's husband was a Confederate soldier and Philip's fiancée waited for him in Oswego but the fire between them soon raged out of control. As the opposing armies fought for possession of Chattanooga, Clarissa and Philip faced their own battle. Caught in the passions of war and love, with hurt inevitable either way, would they be faithful to their vows or listen to their hearts?

This Time Forever is the most apt title; truly, throughout this wonderful Civil War Epic, your heart swells with the hope and belief that this time it is indeed true love; that this time, in spite of all that is happening in the world, love will find a way.

From the first moments, This Time Forever has a sentimental appeal that pervades and increases with the turn of every page. The characters are simply so engaging, you cannot help but hope for the best for them. Philip will soon be a surgeon, and his efforts to affect the look of sophistication contrast slightly with his more important ideals. He is a young man with concerns about becoming the man he wants to be, even who he is, is not quite who his family expects. Readers, certainly, find him admirable. He fulfills expectations, even if in a fairly unique way.

Clarissa Giles Wakefield is and is not the heroine we expect to find! On the one hand, she lives up to family expectations, on the other, she realizes something about unfairness in her own life and from that seems to recognize it in others. She’s comes with baggage…important baggage. She’s lovely and southern and so much more. From the first moment we meet her, we feel for her, and hope she becomes the firebrand she ought to be!

Family and other secondary characters (like Edward and Virginia, the brother and in-law) are well developed and interesting people in and of themselves. Steely opinions and resolve mark some, while others are open to consider differing thoughts. Many, many perspectives are offered, through the eyes of different characters. Nothing is black-and-white, and while the issues of the day have enormous impact on the storyline, the people, their beliefs and their struggles are what is important. Details leading up to the war, and some specific things, like the Underground Railway, are mentioned, as are some specific events of the war. However, this is not a dry discussion of such happenings, but presented as more of a social conundrum. The war will force some people apart – but bring others together. It is the characters opinions about these things that matter. There is the dark side of war – but also, the dark side of individuals.

Success and all its trappings is questioned, as are personal and national goals. At times you’ll be touched, at other times angry – but always, so so moved by that hope for forever.

A subtle humor–frequently based on the likable main character Philip – pervades these pages, offering just that hint of humanizing lightness, in a saga that could be dark, & set in a time when so many of us immediately imagine a dark drama. This Time Forever certainly has its serious side, and offers a wonderfully realistic view (and different views) of life, war, and responsibility, in the later nineteenth century. It is the strength of the characters however, their feelings and their perspectives; on life, their own lives, the state of the nation, that all work to bring the time period to life: not just the struggle and the war, but the people’s actual lives.

Swift’s slightly wordy style is immensely rich and readable; much is conveyed by her wonderful, evocative passages. A description can at once give you a visual and reveal something about a man (like Greek decoration symbolizing success at one home) and a moment’s reflection, exhibit the impact – and lack of – to specific people:

“Sometimes it seemed to Clarissa that the stories of fighting and deathand deprivation were make-believe and had no relation to her at all. It washard to imagine that the bandages and clothing made by their Soldiers’ AidSociety were actually needed by people suffering from the effects of thebattles that had so far left Chattanooga untouched. But she and Lydia hadsons who had never seen their fathers…”

You don’t need any special interest in the time period to enjoy This Time Forever, just a willingness to be enthralled by true love.