Love Sees Past Race in Sarah Creviston Lee’s ‘The War Between Us’ [EXCERPT]

Sarah Creviston Lee's THE WAR BETWEEN US blog tour bannerIt never fails to surprise me. No matter how many novels I read set against the backdrop of World War II, no two stories are ever identical. Because so many nations were involved in the conflict, the war tore everyone apart. But even in the midst of great turmoil and grief, stories of survival and courage and undeniable love continue to emerge. That’s why I love Sarah Creviston Lee’s book, The War Between Us. In it, she captures the dramatic, captivating and bittersweet romance between two people who should never have fallen in love. All these years after WWII, it is a story that is simultaneously touching, heartfelt, and relevant to today’s turbulent social climate. I think you’ll see what I mean when you read the excerpt below. Enjoy! —Jathan


EXCERPT

Lonnie worked her way through the crowd to her cousin’s bedroom where the coats were lying in a large heap on his bed. She found Alex’s coat and moved it with the package over to the desk.

On an impulse, she paused, holding the coat in her hands. The dark wool was scratchy to her fingers and it still held a bit of his warmth. Holding it out, she could picture the coat on Alex, framing his shoulders and height. She slowly brought it up to her face, closed her eyes and deeply breathed in his scent. It was spicy and complex mixed with the earthiness of the wool. The smell made her giddy.

Realizing what she was doing, she quickly dropped the coat and hurried out of the room, her pulse racing. She nearly ran into Alex, who was waiting at the end of the hallway for her.

“It’s a bit less crowded over here.”

“Yes.” She had a hard time meeting his eyes. She didn’t know what to say to him, as if she’d crossed some invisible line of intimacy, only he’d yet to discover it.

Sarah Creviston Lee's THE WAR BETWEEN US

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Just then, there was a commotion and Aunt Millie came pushing through the crowd, waving her hands and laughing with delight. “Oh, you lucky ducks. You’ve found it!”

Alex turned to meet the oncoming Aunt Millie. “Found what?”

“Why, the mistletoe, of course. We all know what that means,” she sang and laughed again, clapping her hands. She was joined by many of the others near enough to see what was going on. Out of the corner of her eyes, Lonnie saw Rose squeeze her way to the front, her eyes big as saucers.

Lonnie’s gaze flicked up to see the offending mistletoe, and the blood drained from her face. How had she missed where her aunt hung the mistletoe? She wanted to kick herself for not being more cautious.

Alex looked into Lonnie’s face. “What does it mean?” he asked her, his brows furrowed with his question.

Lonnie’s throat felt very dry. “It—it means you’re supposed to kiss me.” Her insides trembled, her heart threatened to pound itself to pieces, and all she wanted to do was run away.

Strangely, Alex didn’t seem fazed by it at all. Nor did he seem to mind the crowd of expectant people watching them. His eyes stayed riveted to her face, and he was as dignified as ever. Lonnie almost hated him for it.

“Do you want me to kiss you?” Alex asked.

“Come now,” Aunt Millie interrupted cheerfully. “You don’t have a choice, you two. We’re all waiting.” Her sing-song voice filled the entire house.

Alex only had eyes for Lonnie. “Do you?”

She stared at him, scrambling to make her brain work. “I—I . . .”

He didn’t wait for her to finish. He leaned down and kissed her gently on the cheek. The pressure of his lips against her skin sent a shower of sparks trickling down her spine, and she gasped.

A cheer went up from the party and soon their attention was diverted back to their conversations, though a few of the guests wore stony expressions.

“Sorry,” Alex said, his face still close to hers. “I figured ending it quickly was better than dragging it out.”

“Excuse me.” She brushed past him and Rose, whose mouth gaped open, before pushing her way through the party to hide in the kitchen. This sanctuary was taken up by a few of Aunt Millie’s friends getting together more drinks.

She sighed in exasperation and slipped out the back door onto the icy patio. Instantly, her warmth was whisked away, and she wrapped herself in her arms, rubbing to keep warm. The frigid evening breeze cooled her flushed cheeks. She breathed deeply, each exhale coming out in long streams of fog.

Her head whirled with what had just happened. She cursed the mistletoe. Why did she have to be the first to discover it? And with Alex no less? Her face started to burn all over again.

Lonnie’s toes were beginning to go numb when the door opened and Alex joined her on the patio.

“I thought you’d want to disappear. I brought your coat.” He draped it around her shoulders. She clutched it to her desperately, touched by his kindness.

“How d-did you kn-know?” Her words stuttered out of her through chattering teeth.

“I know you better than anyone else in this town.”

His words stunned her. “Y-you do?”

Alex smiled, shoving his hands into his pockets. He shivered. “Wow. It’s cold.” He turned to look at her in admiration. “You are one stubborn woman to have been out here as long as you have. It’s been fifteen minutes.”

“Th-thank you,” she stammered, trembling violently.

He laughed. “Was my kiss that bad?”

“Y-yes. I m-mean, no. N-no. It was j-just all those p-people.”

Alex laughed again. “We should get you inside before you catch cold. Come on.”

She nodded, and he led her back inside. In less than a minute, he’d cleared a seat for her over by the fireplace, tucked a warm blanket around her, and stuck a mug of hot wassail in her hands. Alex left her then, and while she was a little disappointed not to have his company, she was grateful too. She really didn’t want to talk to anyone. Even Rose had made herself scarce. Had she been as scandalized as everyone else?

Lonnie sipped her drink, feeling its heat seep into her body. She watched the people enjoying themselves: laughing, talking, eating, drinking, dancing. It was so wonderfully happy and for a time they were forgetting the war and all its frustration and gloom. For now they were just good friends celebrating Christmas together.

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ABOUT THE WAR BETWEEN US

Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society.

Alex Moon is not the enemy.

Six months after Pearl Harbor’s tragedy, Korean American Alex Moon is sent away from his home in California for refusing his father’s request to join the fight against the Japanese. On his journey, Alex is attacked and stranded in the small town of River Bluff, Indiana just for looking like America’s most hated enemy.

Unexpectedly, Alex is befriended by a local girl, Lonnie Hamilton, who comes to his defense, saving him from doubt and despair while placing herself in the cross hairs of prejudice. Alex falls in love with his ally—a love that is clearly forbidden. Torn between his dual identities, Korean and American, and grappling with how everyone sees him, Alex must wage the war within himself—of defending who he is, resolving his tortured feelings about the war, and fighting for the woman he loves.

Sarah Creviston Lee

Sarah Creviston Lee

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Creviston Lee was born and raised as a proud Hoosier. She can usually be found tinkering in the kitchen with WWII ration recipes, haunting local antique shops, homeschooling her kids, clacking away on her laptop writing one story or another, or watching old school movies with her family.

She currently lives in Maryland with her husband, three children, and flock of feisty chickens.

In 2016, her book, The War Between Us, received the Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society.

Readers may visit Sarah on her website at History-Preserved.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Goodreads, Pinterest, and Twitter.

HFVBT_Logo_Banner TwitterTHE WAR BETWEEN US
By Sarah Creviston Lee
330 pgs. CreateSpace. $14.99

Purchase The War Between Us at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and IndieBound.

The War Between Us is brought to you in association with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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