While My Heart Beats by Erin McKenzie

Even through the horrors of war love can be found and held on to.

What was the book about?
Think back to World War I, 1915, a time when women had to fight for the basic rights of being equal and to be able to vote. Johanna Lennox, a Scot from a working-class background and a trained nurse who is extremely good at what she does and has seen the worst of war can do to a human being. Into this mix add Ellie Winthrop, an upper-class young woman and who has lived relatively sheltered life, who signs up to the Voluntary Aid Detachment after a family member has been killed.

Johanna is fed up having to deal with many of the VAD recruits who have no real experience and nothing beyond a glorified idea of what the causalities of war might be. However, she is struck by and drawn to Ellie and her quiet efficient way of caring for the wounded men. A deep friendship is struck which grows deeper but is threatened when Johanna has to return to Scotland following her mother’s unexpected death. Johanna tries to stop their relationship as she feels that there will only be heart ache and volunteers to be sent to the front to help with the casualties. Ellie doesn’t accept this and continues to fight for what might be and what she knows is her future.

Featured Tropes
Historical, Medical, Romance

Book Strengths:
I loved reading about these two strong women. I felt I was there, seeing war and love through Johanna’s and Ellie’s eyes. This book is in no way a history lesson but a lesson in how love can grow and endure even in the most terrifying places. 

Character Chemistry
From the prickly start when they first meet Johann and Ellie’s relationship is a slow but consuming burn. Johanna’s willingness to sacrifice her happiness for what she thinks is best for Ellie considering her upbringing and societies convention is heart-breaking. Matron Campbell is a wonderful secondary character who helps both women on their journey.

Heat Rating:
4 Flames

Wrap up
Above all this is a story of love and how, through whatever is thrown at it, love will prevail.

Star Rating:
5 Stars

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