Book Cover: Angel of the Somme
Part of the The Great War series:
  • Angel of the Somme

There’s a fine line between courage and insanity…and he flings himself over it.

The Great War, Book 1

Captain Sam Dwight never thought his pre-war vow to “make a difference for good in the world” would come back to haunt him. After suffering a grievous head wound in battle, he awakens in a field hospital, barely able to utter a word.

How fast would his beautiful, determined nurse call for a straitjacket if she knew that every time a bright light flickers in his eyes, he is transported back to the trenches, reaching out to heal a wounded soldier in a flash of dazzling light?

Lily Curtis has seen many a soldier racked with guilt, but she’s never seen one will himself to induce life-threatening seizures. She fears that next time, her hands won’t be quick enough to save her handsome, apparently suicidal charge.

As rumors of an ethereal battlefield specter reach the ward, Sam becomes convinced that his front line mercy missions are real. But with each trip, he spins the roulette wheel with his own life while Lily’s love and the lives of those at the hospital hang in the balance.

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Rose looked over her supply laden cart, abject terror in her eyes.

“You’ll do fine,” Lily reassured for the umpteenth time. “It’s just a blanket bath. It’ll be exactly the same as when you practiced on me.” Surely Lily’s hour and a half rehearsal with Rose must have eased her mind somewhat.

“It’s not exactly the same,” Rose said, blinking down at the row of neatly folded washcloths before her.

“Mostly the same.” Lily grinned. “All except for that crucial … oh let’s say two percent of exterior plumbing,”

Rose blinked.

“Okay, maybe four percent. Depending.” Lily nudged Rose, hoping for a grin. Rose released a trembling sigh instead.

“Come along, Rose. Bathing men is just like taking off a bandage.”

“A frightening surprise beneath?” Rose looked over in horror.

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“No. It’s best to tackle the task quickly and without a lot of forethought.” Lily poured hot water into the metal basin atop her cart, then did the same to the dish on Rose’s cart. She pushed her cart through the ward door with confidence, resisting the urge to look over her shoulder to see if Rose followed.

Hoping that a familiar face might put Rose at ease, Lily steered her cart to her favorite corner of the room, toward Gordy and Sam. She’d not had a chance to converse with Sam since his morphine-fueled flirtations the previous day. She was more than a little curious about how he’d respond to her with a clearer mind, though she had to admit she felt a strange mixture of dread and excitement. He had a way to muddle up her head like no one else.

He’d been so charming, so sweet in his confession of attraction, but Lily knew that a drug-addled mind was likely to say any number of foolish things. Still, the charming captain had never been anything but sincere in his conversation with her. She wouldn’t be an absolute fool to have been flattered by his words.

It wouldn’t do to bathe him herself, however. He’d likely remember every word of yesterday’s conversation and would be far too embarrassed by such intimate contact with her so soon. Better to have Rose tend to the captain while Lily tended to sweet, chatty Gordy.

Just as they pulled up to their patients, however, Rose stopped her.

“Lily, you mustn’t make me bathe Captain Dwight.” Rose gave Lily a desperate look.

“Why ever not, Rose?” Lily asked. She was trying to be patient with her, but the wilting flower was becoming a bit of a trial. “I assure you, he’s a gentleman.”

“Oh, that’s not it.” Rose shook her head. “It’s with his, you know, his seizures. Can’t I bathe the other one? The lieutenant? I’d feel so much better if I didn’t have to fret that my patient might pitch a fit in the middle of the bath.”

Lily sighed. She supposed her roommate had a legitimate point. Even if bathing Sam put her in a somewhat awkward position, it wouldn’t be fair to put any more stress on Rose. The poor thing was already strung as tight as a barbed wire fence.

“Fine,” Lily capitulated. She briskly moved her cart beside the captain’s bed while Rose wheeled hers next to Gordy.

“Good morning, Bluebird.” Gordy’s voice sounded so formal that Lily scarcely recognized him. “We’re getting blanket baths, are we?”

“That you are,” Lily said with much forced cheer.

“Blanket bath?” Sam asked. “You wash our … linens?”

Lily shook her head. First Rose and now Sam. Modesty was running amok at New Bedlam. “I wash you, captain.”

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Henry Bankhead on Library Journal wrote:

The horrors of war provide a stark backdrop to Meeker's (Not Quite Darcy) tale of essential human emotion and the inexplicable. Intriguing unanswered questions provide a solid foundation for the continuing series.

Jane Kriel on Heroes and Heartbreakers wrote:

Writing a richly textured historical novel is a challenge, but Meeker knows what she's doing and this one instantly transports you to the European battlefields of World War I.


Angel of the Somme