Title: A Distant Melody
Series: Wings of Glory #1
Author: Sarah Sundin
Publish Date: March 1, 2010
Page Count: 355 pages
Source: NOOK store
Date Read: April 4-9, 2020
I believe this is Ms. Sundin's debut novel and it read like a competently-written debut. I have read other books by Sundin and loved them, so I had high expectations for this book. While it didn't reach the quality of those other books, I still enjoyed the book overall and I am eager to get to book two in the series. You can see the author's voice and the research and care she brings the writing craft that will make her books stand out for me in this book, but it suffers a bit at the end.
Allie, our heroine, is the daughter of a wealthy business owner and his beautiful (and shallow as fuck) wife. Allie is not the conventional beauty her mother is, at least not for the 1940s Southern California. Allie is searching for meaning and passion in her life; rather her parents are forcing a relationship with her and a possible gay man who works in the C-suite of daddy's company.
Allie cute meets our hero, Lt Walter Novak, on the train heading for NorCal town and their mutual friends' wedding. He is on furlough between ending his pilot training and heading to his first base in England. During the week leading up to the wedding, they become friends and decide to write to each other. As their friendship deepens, Allie finds herself questioning her life's choices; those choices were made based on her obedience to her parents. Her parents suck - point blank. The sexless robot (Baxter) she's been dating to please them has more of a back story and reason for his choices then her parents' have.
Allie makes some changes at home while keeping the flame (of FRIENDSHIP *wink wink*) going with Walt via letters and homemade cookies. As those changes make her happy and more independent, the tensions between her and Baxter and the parents come to a head. Baxter surprises/boxes her in by proposing to Allie in front of her parents at Christmas - Allie breaks the engagement and the relationship the day before Valentine's Day. My petty heart really enjoyed her timing, not going to lie.
Allie and Walt dance around each other some more until Walt is involved in a tragic bombing mission. When he recovers enough to come home, there is more metaphorical dancing around. Allie is disinherited and disowned by her parents by not marrying Baxter, and she decides this is a perfect way to make the major changes she needs to be happy, Walt or no Walt. My problem with this last part of the story is that it goes in a predictable, mediocre, romance-genre approved way. IF Walt and Allie had a real conversation at the hospital, there would be twenty-thirty pages less and the storytelling would have been stronger. Open up your face hole and talk already.
The secondary characters were fleshed out but not intrusive to the main story. The sequel bait seemed more subtle than in Sundin's later works. Overall, a solid start to the series.