*I was given a reader’s copy of this book for an honest review
Love on a Train by Colleen L. Donnelly
Price: $5.99 (Kindle Edition); $16.99 (Paperback)
Review: By personal preference, I usually stay away from historical romance because I find it difficult, in some cases, to read about the social norms that existed in our history, but after reading the synopsis for this novel, I was intrigued. I was desperate to see the heroine and her true love come out on top, so I decided to give this book a try and, while there were a couple things that was hard to read about (socially speaking), I still thought the book was good.
This book was set after World War II, so I’m assuming that it took place some time in the late 1940s, early 1950s. It was never specified what the exact date was, but Ms. Donnelly inserted little hints in the dialogue. It was also mentioned that a lot of young girls were afraid that they wouldn’t find husbands because a lot of available men were killed in the war. So, because of the shortage of men, you can only guess how pressed parents were to find husbands for their daughters and if you were “fortunate” enough to be catch a man’s eye than you were to do nothing to mess up your chances of being the perfect wife. This bring us to our heroine.
Martha Cole is engaged to be married, but she’s not too happy about it because the man that she’s engaged to is someone that she isn’t in love with. Her husband-to-be, David Tidwell, is her father’s apprentice and he’s also boring, stable and reliable. Her mother orchestrates their whole relationship in hopes of getting them down the aisle because she believes he’ll be a good husband to her daughter. But, what Martha’s mother didn’t factor into her little plot was Raymond Haynes.
Raymond is the man that Martha fell in love with on the train before she became engaged to David. He is also the reason why she wrote her bestselling novel, Love on a Train. No-one, besides her best friend (Karen), knows that the passion that was present in her novel was, in fact, a true story. Her novel is based on the time that she and Raymond spent together.
This book is a story inside a story, inside a story, which means we got three stories in one. The first, is the main story, which is Martha’s story about her quest to figure out if the connection that she had with Raymond was true love and, if so, is it worth giving up her marriage with David? The second, is Martha’s novel. We don’t get the full book, of course, but we do get snippets throughout the story and, the third, is Raymond’s remake of Martha’s novel. Not only did he add words, but, because he likes to draw, he also added some illustrations as well. He added his POV to her story, which was interesting.
I liked the book, but what I struggled with was some social norms. As I said earlier, this book was set in the 1940s and during that time women didn’t really have too many rights. They were expected to tend to their husbands and their households. I can understand that, if that’s what the woman wants for herself, but, in Martha’s case, she was capable of so much more and her mother and David were continuously trying to stifle her talent. She was a phenomenal writer, which was made quite clear by the number of books she sold, but they tried so hard to force that passion out of her. I hated reading that and, while I can’t really blame them for it because that was what was expected of all women during that time, it still bothered me.
That also brings me to Martha. I liked her character, but I hated how she never really stood up for herself. She never said what she felt and she never made her presence known. I was yelling throughout this whole book, “Say how you feel,” “Stand up for yourself,” and “Don’t marry him!” She knew from the beginning where she wanted to be, but she was constantly being told, by her mother and David, that she shouldn’t want that, so she tried not to. That bugged me to the core, but, as I said earlier, my misgivings with her are also things that I can blame her for because she was a product of her environment and her time and back then that’s how women were taught to behave.
The romance in this novel wasn’t really present. It was nice to read about Raymond and Martha’s connection in her book, but she and David had no passion. It was so sad. I just couldn’t believe that her mother wanted her to marry someone that she had no connection with. There was rarely any signs of affection and David only did things, like hold her hand, because he had to. I do wish that we could’ve gotten more of her and Raymond in real time because I think that their chemistry wouldn’t been explosive and a joy to read.
Speaking of Raymond, the mystery that was behind him was really the main reason why I continued to read this story. They were such a beautiful couple that I was constantly rooting for them to find their way back to one another. Plus, he’d taught her so much within the short amount of time that they’d spent together and they had so much love and passion that I was desperate for their Happily Ever After.
There was a lot of other characters in this book, but the one that I liked the most was Karen. She was an amazing best friend to Martha. She was also a lot more take charge than Martha was. Karen was put in a situation where she had to provide for herself and her mother because her father was overseas, so she put her big girl panties on and did what was necessary to keep a roof over, both, hers and her mother’s head and I commend her for that, especially during that time. I loved her character and I was glad to see that she might’ve gotten her own HEA.
My only complaint with this book is that I wish that there was an epilogue. I wouldn’t wanted to read a little bit more into Martha’s life to see how she was doing, but, overall, this book was good.
I had no problems with the writing and the book flowed very well and kept me interested. It just really made me realize how far women have come. In this book, people were making a huge stink of Karen learning to drive a car and now it’s normal for women to drive. Women are also working after marriage and some are even the breadwinners in their homes.
Although I was screaming at Martha for majority of the book, I’m glad I read it. But, what about you? Have you read Love on a Train? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know.
Love on a Train is now available for purchase. Just click on the link above and it’ll take you right to it.
A Little Note: Sorry that this was so long. I just had a lot to say.