France 1944: Stranded behind enemy lines, eighteen-year-old Katrinka Badeau escapes German deserters with the help of an undercover Jedburgh operation. Katrinka joins the Jed team, led by Major Willoughby Nye, a man once employed on her father's merchant ship. Her work throws her together with Sergeant Wolfe Farr, the team's tough-talking radio operator. Amid the chaos of war, she and Wolfe begin a passion-tangled love affair. But Katrinka cannot accept Wolfe's plans for the future. And her love for Nye, which has evolved from an adolescent crush to that of a young woman, still burns bright. With the liberation of France, both men are sent to the Far East. Refusing to be left behind, Katrinka joins a small entertainment troupe, and sets out on an arduous journey to find them. But will love withstand the test of time?
A young woman in World War II France joins an undercover operation in this debut historical novel.
At the start of Kensington’s story, the protagonist, Katrinka, is in a terrifying bind. It is 1944 in Nazi-occupied France and some German deserters have taken her to a home where she is about to be raped. The Germans have killed her Burmese-British mother and her stepfather, an American archaeologist who worked in Switzerland. Katrinka fights off an attacker and flees and is soon rescued by Wolfe Farr, an American sergeant. Farr is part of Operation Jedburgh, a combined British, American, and French mission to aid the Resistance. More than that, Katrinka’s father, Remi Amparo, is a Portuguese sea captain who is about to deliver plastique (plastic explosives) to the Jedburghs. When Farr takes Katrinka back to meet the others, she is surprised to see Wills Nye, a Briton who used to work on Amparo’s ship and now is with the Jeds. Nye wants Katrinka to retrieve the plastique from her father’s vessel, even though the assignment is outrageously risky. She agrees, but demands Farr accompany her. On this and subsequent undertakings, she wrestles with many dangers and lingering demons, and a growing attraction to both Nye and Farr, which all freely act on. While the end of the war is tantalizingly close, Katrinka travels to Asia to find her true soul mate. Kensington’s breezy novel tackles a captivating aspect of World War II, the parachuting guerrilla warriors that constituted Operation Jedburgh. The provocative story has a die-hard survivor as its heroine, described by Nye in this way: “She had an instinct for survival, naïve bravery, and a rather wild, almost savage unpredictability that was perfectly suited for the job.” The sequence of events, largely between D-Day and VE Day, is well-plotted and often exciting, with the international cast fitting in seamlessly with historical events. This is also a love story with no shortage of sexual encounters; in fact, there are probably a few too many. But the book never loses its seriousness about the war, with a harrowing section in London serving as an effective reminder of the populace’s suffering.
An informed, imaginative tale that adds some romance to a well-researched war story.