Book Review: Return to me by Carolyn Menke

Eighteen-year-old Sadie Stark, raised by the governor of Pennsylvania, has the world on a string. She doesn’t need the mother who left her any more than she needs the fiance who promises to change. What she needs is to finish college, and keep her wits about her.

When war-bound James Pasko returns her stolen clutch, and shows her what’s missing in her life, she gains the courage to search for the truth about her past.

What Sadie uncovers rattles her to the core. But James’ steadfast love gives her hope for the future—for the first time—even as the war tears them apart.

When James disappears over enemy lines and Sadie makes a startling discovery, she must decide to follow in the footsteps of the mother who gave her away, or face a life of hardship like she’s never known.

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“A sweeping, romantic debut that brings the war-time forties to vivid life in this Titanic meets Philomena tale—fast-paced, tender, and real.” —RITA Award-winning Author Gwyn Cready

 “Menke’s writing is so lovely, you will want to wrap yourself in her words and savour each moment you spend in Sadie’s story. Return To Me will tug on your heartstrings and take you on a journey back in time.” —Dana Faletti, Author of the Whisper Trilogy

 “A timeless tale of love, loss and sacrifice that will equally break and warm your heart, as you cheer for the beautifully complex characters until the very last page.” —Lori M. Jones, Author of Renaissance of the Heart

My Review

I’m not usually a romance fan but it was easy to get swept along by this moving tale of love spanning the decades including World War II.  The characters are believable and engaging, even though I found Sadie occasionally quite frustrating, constrained as she is in a world where feminism barely raised its head.  The theme of return is strong in the book, as is the idea that life is precious and incredibly brief.  The effects of the choices we make truly echo down the years and life continue to test us.

A chance meeting throws Sadie and soldier James Pasko together just as he is going off to fight. Despite the fact that she is already promised to the thoroughly dislikable Henry,  the die has been cast and Sadie’s life will never be the same.

Without spoiling the ending, Sadie’s story mirrors that of the mother who gave her away as history seems to repeat itself.

If you are looking for a romance to escape into on a chilly autumn evening and you love stories from the 1940s, you will adore “Return to Me”.

About the Author

Carolyn Menke is the author of “A Little Known Truth” and “The Survival Guide to Mommy-hood,” both published in “Beyond the Diaper Bag.” Her flash fiction piece “Full Circle” took first place in the Writer’s Type literary competition in July 2012. “Baba’s Bananas” also placed first at Writer’s Type in March 2011, and was later awarded first runner-up overall for the
yearly competition in the same category.

A storyteller with an entrepreneurial spirit, she started a marketing communications business with clients ranging from local start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Prior to that, she worked as a marketing communications specialist for high-tech companies. She gained valuable public speaking experience while leading corporate and educational training workshops. Recently, she was a guest speaker at Wexford Elementary and has been invited to share her latest novel, Return To Me, with area reading clubs.

The author earned a bachelor’s degree in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree in marketing communications from Duquesne University. She is a member of Pennwriters and two writing critique groups.

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I received a free copy of this book from the publishers Beck Valley Books.