Monday 7 October 2013



Catharine Cavanaugh was the beautiful wife of an ambitious American diplomat - a woman who denied her passions and hid her regrets. Jack Maguire was a brash reporter who lived by his wits and broke all the rules. In a moment, their lives touched and a dangerous love was born. From bomb-shattered London to the besieged Philippines, Catherine and Jack were caught in the sweeping tides of war. Finally, Catherine was forced to make a choice between keeping her love trapped inside her forever, or embracing the joy meant for only for brave hearts...

My second taste of Carolyn Hart’s fiction after last month’s impressive introduction to her work with Death By Surprise.  Brave Hearts is a standalone book that was originally published back in the late 1980’s.  The novel revolves around US diplomat, Spencer Cavanaugh, his wife Catharine and a journalist, Jack Maguire whom she crosses paths with at a dinner at the Ritz, during the time of the Blitz.

The Cavanaugh’s are locked in a loveless marriage, but still bound together by the needs of Spencer’s career and the necessity of portraying a certain image to the US’s allies during the early days of WW II. As the novel unfolds we follow the three leads and their complicated personal lives from war-torn London to the Far East and Manila before the Japanese strike at Pearl Harbour. The subsequent invasion of the Philippines and desperate retreat of the US forces does little to smooth the path towards true love.

It would be fair to say, I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the previous novel of hers that I read. I was intrigued by the characters and was piqued enough to care about whether they would survive the war in the Pacific. The personal relationships between the three and several other minor players in the book made for interesting reading and I happy enough to read on and see how things were resolved.

The major plus points for me were in Hart’s depiction of war-torn London suffering under the relentless bombing of the German air force. Similarly when transporting the action to the Pacific islands caught in the conflict, the writing brought home the brutality of war and the harshness of the conditions under which people struggled to survive.

On balance the romantic elements of the book were a bit too much for my taste. Much grittier than your average Mills and Boon offering (I guess) but I did have to roll my eyes a few times, as yet another bout of tonsil hockey was followed by some frantic plunging and coupling.

Overall I found Brave Hearts an enjoyable and satisfying read, with a few minor reservations.

3 from 5

I was grateful to Meghan at Prometheus books for my copy.  



  1. Col - I sometimes get my fill of romance in a crime novel too, if it takes away from the plot. Admittedly it's a delicate balance, but still... All the same, I'm glad you thought this was a decent read.

    1. Margot I enjoyed it without doubt and the romantic theme and the relationships were what the plot revolved around. I think the back drops for the story made it for me......Blitz afflicted London and the war in the Pacific.

  2. This sounds interesting, and maybe more up my street than yours - I didn't know Hart wrote this kind of book as well, the one I read was much more a straightforward cozy. The wartime setting sounds good...

    1. Moira - you are probably right, but I will say that I did read 200 pages of it on can't do that if you aren't enjoying something!

      I think the setting definitely raised my enjoyment factor had the relationship drama been set in the 90's a la Bridget Jones I would have been struggling.

      Ping - its on its way to you,

  3. This sounds good to me, the setting especially. I also was not aware that Hart had written this type of novel... nor have a read anything else by her yet. I will try a couple of her other books I have on hand, then maybe look for this one someday.

    1. Tracy the setting was the book's best feature for me to be honest, though the story interested me. I think you'd enjoy it. From my two book's worth experience of Hart, they were both good reads and quite different from each other.