3.5 stars is more accurate. I received access to this book (the second in the author’s “Linford” series) through netgalley.com and quickly picked up book #1 in the series (THE DARK HORIZON) to read first. Yes, I know each book is advertised as a stand alone, but I’m just the kind of person who NEEDS to read any series in order.
While THE FLAME WITHIN is pitched as historical fiction, I feel it falls more into the historical romance category. It’s the story of Alice and Thomas. She is a poor girl from a British mill town who fights hard to find a better life. He is from a much wealthier family, a soldier who returns from World War I badly injured. After they fall in love, however, there are still many other obstacles to face, mistakes to make, and regrets to process.
It’s an easy, fast read and the story will carry you along. And you’ll get a feel for the difficulty injured soldiers have when trying to return to their pre-war lives. I also felt there was better character development and more subtlety in this novel than in the first one.
But I also felt the pace was uneven. Harris, at times, seems to get side-tracked, bogged down in too many details from her research, particularly about post-war housing demand in Britain. What I love about historical fiction is when historical information is embedded in an organic way, something that feels natural, that you just pick up during the read. But in this novel, it felt a bit heavy-handed and distracted. If she writes more books in the Linford series, I’m not sure I’ll be reading them.
More about the author, Liz Harris.
You may be interested in my review of the prequel to this book, The Dark Horizon.