In Hatfield’s (Dally, 2017, etc.) World War II–set romance, an injured soldier and a Japanese-American woman headed for an internment camp conspire to save her family farm—and each other.
It’s May 1942, and U.S. Army Capt. Rock Laroux, 28, has been languishing at a Portland, Oregon, veteran’s hospital with a mystery illness after surviving a plane crash. After his doctor tells him that he doesn’t have long to live, Rock wants nothing more than to go back to the nearby farm that his late parents left him. He almost makes it there before he collapses, unconscious, at the back door of a neighboring farmhouse belonging to the Nishimuras; there, he’s discovered by their 20-something daughter, Kamiko Jane (nicknamed “Miko”). However, she’s due to report to at an assembly center for evacuation to an internment camp, and her family members have already left. But instead, she decides to nurse Rock back to health, which makes her a fugitive; she also worries about leaving the unoccupied farm behind. Rock is grateful for her help in his recovery and, due in part to his growing romantic feelings, he arranges to buy the Nishimura farm temporarily; a family friend also recommends that Miko and Rock marry, in order to keep her from having to go to the camp. Miko, who adores Rock, convinces herself that despite anything he says, he’s just doing her a favor and will want an annulment when her family comes home. As a result, the marriage goes unconsummated. Rock gets another chance to prove himself when a villainous traveling salesman arrives at the farm. Hatfield is a prolific writer of romances, among other works, and she effectively keeps things moving while also rooting her story in engaging historical and cultural details. Her addition of a slang-dishing neighbor kid as a character also provides some occasional comic relief. However, by making Miko’s neighbors unfailingly supportive, the book sugarcoats the reality of how many Japanese-Americans were actually treated in this era. Also, Miko’s conflict—her belief that Rock won’t want to stay married, despite him saying such things as, “I’m not pretending” and “I couldn’t be more pleased or happy to marry you”—is one-note and contrived; Rock rightly calls it a “ridiculous farce.”
A historical tale that will most appeal to romance fans for who enjoy a slow-burn approach.