Monday, 26 October 2015

A Kestrel Rising by S.A. Meade

I wouldn't generally promote M/F here but S A Laybourn wrote my favourite M/M book of all time, Stolen Summer, and for that reason alone, she always gets a place on my blog. I'm going to read and review it, but in the meantime, here are the details.

A Kestrel Rising is part of Totally Bound's sweet romance line.

War puts courage and love to the test.
It’s 1939, a lone Spitfire roars over her family home, and Ilona Lowe, entranced by its grace and power, finally knows her place in the fight against Hitler. She joins the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, is stationed at RAF Catterick and embarks on an all-too-brief love affair with a Bleinheim bomber pilot who is killed during the Battle of Britain.
Heartbroken, but determined to carry on, Ilona returns to active duty where she encounters Francis Robson. He’s arrogant—some would even say reckless—and another pilot. Yet he’s worth the risk.
Their love isn’t easy. Francis harbors jealousy about her former lover while Ilona’s posting at an RAF bomber base feeds her nightmares about Francis’ safety. She can see the escalation of stakes as his missions grow ever more dangerous, the enemy more desperate. Ilona must put her courage to the test because she knows that loving Francis means letting him let him fight on, regardless of the terrible price they both may pay.
“Is it the Germans, Ilke?”
The low thrumming of an engine broke the afternoon silence, growing louder until the plane burst from beyond the trees with a roar that had Ilona and her sister scrambling for cover. Aislinn clung to her arm as they ducked behind the low wall of the terrace.
Ilona gripped the warm brick, digging her fingernails into the moss when the ground trembled. The noise reverberated through her bones. “I don’t think so. I think there’d be more than one plane.” She glanced up as the plane swept into a banking curve above the house. It was low enough that she could see the RAF roundels on the underside of its elliptical wings and she took a deep breath. “It’s all right. It’s one of ours.”
“Are you sure?” Aislinn’s voice quivered.
“Yes, I’m sure.” She stood up, her fear gone, and shielded her eyes against the glare of the afternoon sun. “How beautiful!” It seemed impossible to her that it came from a factory. Its slender fuselage and upswept wings were something that nature would fashion. It echoed the shape of the kestrel that rose, screeching, out of the woods in pursuit of the intruder. Ilona watched the bird for a moment and wished she could fly with it, to follow the plane and chase off the enemy that waited in the east. She was twenty, old enough to volunteer.
“Bloody cheek,” Aislinn declared as the plane straightened and launched into a steep, fast climb. The throaty growl of its engine stunned the squabbling blackbirds into silence and brought the girls’ parents out onto the terrace. “He nearly took the chimney off.”
Ilona wasn’t listening to her sister. She stared at the plane while it continued its climb, rising into the sky before it turned and leveled, sweeping away to the south. The heavy purr of its engines faded away. Something inside her took flight, rising with the plane. The engine’s song was in her blood. She had to hear it again. She knew she would never be able to fly a plane like that, but to see one again would be enough. It thrilled her that such a marvelous plane belonged to her country. For the first time since the Government had declared war, Ilona knew what she was going to do.
Her father put his hands in his pockets and whistled softly. “That was some machine.”
“What was it, Papa?” Aislinn asked.
“I think it was a Spitfire. They test fly them out of Aldermaston.”
Ilona sat on the wall. “I didn’t think something like that could be so beautiful. It looked more like it was alive.” She hoped that the fleeting, heart-racing glimpse would not be all that she ever saw. The ease with which it had moved tugged at her. She had only ever loved living things—her family, her horses, her dogs and cats—never a machine. It didn’t seem possible that she could fall in love so quickly. She had to get closer to it, to stand in the grass and watch it soar overhead. It would not be enough to stay at home when there was a war to fight. She looked at her sister and her parents, her mind made up.
“I’ve decided,” she said. “I’m joining the WAAF.”

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