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Review: The Bungalow, Sarah Jio

When her best friend Kitty decides to leave to be a nurse on Bora Bora at the start of World War II, Anne throws her entire life to the side – temporarily of course – to join her. After all, her previous existence was a little bit mundane and uninspiring, including her engagement to her fiance, and nothing says excitement like a nursing post in the South Pacific. But Anne isn’t entirely prepared for what Bora Bora will bring to her; a murder mystery, a forbidden love affair, and secrets that may tear her from her best friend forever.

I’d heard a lot of praise for Sarah Jio’s first novel, The Violets of March, so when she gave me a chance to review The Bungalow, I leapt at it, and I’ve been looking forward to the book ever since. I wasn’t disappointed; this is a solid love story and all-around good read. It’s a short one, so perfect for zipping through over the course of an afternoon or evening while you can get fully wrapped up in the book.

The book’s setting, on a lush tropical island in the midst of World War II, seems absolutely designed for romance – especially since I have done work with a travel company in the midst of my old job, and I’m very familiar with the idea of Bora Bora even if I haven’t been there myself. It’s an inspired setting, creating the urgency of war while still allowing a couple to fall in love outside the actual warzone. That threat of danger is always hanging over their heads.

The plot was also an incredibly compelling aspect of the book for me and kept the pages turning (or me clicking the button on the Kindle). The characters, particularly Westry, weren’t as well defined as I think I’d like in a proper romance, but because so much else was going on in a relatively short period of space, I could understand the relative shadowy dimensions and enjoy the rest of the story as it happened. And I really related to Anne, the star of the show, who has so much going on in her life that she can’t contain it all and ends up torn before she decides what she really wants. I found myself captivated and swept into her world.

As a result, I found The Bungalow to be a fast, very enjoyable read; with its evocative setting, I actually think it would be an excellent choice for a beach read with a little bit more depth. A fantastic book for historical fiction and romance fans alike. Recommended.

This book was provided to me for free by the author for review.

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