by Sandra Ardoin
First Lt. Gilbert Ballard returned to Hot Springs, Arkansas, from The Great War to find his life a shambles. He lost a leg and partial use of an arm, formed an addiction to pain killers and alcohol, and drove his fiancée into another man’s arms. While he struggles to put his life in order, Mary McClarney, a nurse at the Army and Navy Hospital in Hot Springs yearns for him to see her as his one true love.
Whisper Goodbye is the second book in Myra Johnson’s series Till We Meet Again. You’ll find my review for Book One, When the Clouds Roll By, here. While each book can be enjoyed without reading the other, to get the full impact of Gilbert’s situation, I’d suggest reading the previous book first.
As in the last story, Gilbert is a needy mess. Fortunately, he knows he’s a mess and doesn’t want to remain that way forever, but like most of us in less-than-desirable circumstances, it takes a special focus to snap us out of our pity parties long enough to heal. Gilbert finds that focus through the purchase of a rundown farm. It gives him purpose and self-respect.
Mary loves Gilbert. She’s waited for him to come to his senses and put the past behind him, but she loses hope after a heartbreaking discovery at the hospital. Mary has her own trouble with the past and it tends to skew her reaction to Gilbert’s addictions and keeps her from seeing some of those small victories he experiences.
As in the previous book, the writing shines and the story is compelling. However, in the beginning, the only thing that keeps Gilbert from being an unlikable hero is his regret and the reader’s hope he’ll eventually see what a good thing he has in Mary. Ms. Johnson does a good job of showing his character growth through temptations and small victories. Once he begins to heal, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, he becomes the type of man the reader can cheer for, so stick with him.
There’s a twist at the end that keeps this story from having the typical, fairy-tale ending, but it’s well worth the read. I’m looking forward to Book Three in the series, Every Tear a Memory.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Abingdon Press, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.