A Dangerous Act of Kindness by LP Fergusson #BookReview #BlogTour

What would you risk for a complete stranger?
When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered, and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.
On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.
As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected, those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion prove deadly…
A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore.

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for A Dangerous Act of Kindness by LP Fergusson today, alongside the lovely Karen at My Reading Corner. Many thanks to the author and Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel, received through Netgalley.

Historical fiction set during the World Wars is one of my favourite genres so I couldn't resist A Dangerous Act of Kindness when I read the blurb. The book opens in 1940 when the Battle of Britain was in full swing. It was obviously a time of heightened emotions for everybody and it's perhaps no wonder if there was little compassion for injured Luftwaffe pilots who bail out of the aircraft over England. Millie Sanger's decision to help Lukas Schiller would seem to be the normal, humane response to those of us living now but back then it was a far riskier course of action when people believed the German invasion could be imminent. Any suggestion of collaborating with the enemy was a potentially treasonous act and yet Millie - already no stranger to tragedy - can't just stand by when she finds a fellow human being in need.
Although she is only in her twenties, she is already a widow and is weighed down by the burden of her bereavement. Her decision to help Lukas comes partly through her innate sense of compassion but it's clear that she needs to be able to forgive herself for what happened in the past. At first they are both torn by the situation they find themselves in; she is moved to help a man in obvious pain but is scared of what he may be capable of, he is in agony and desperately needs her assistance but fears that she will hand him over to the authorities once he is out of immediate distress. They are both risking a great deal so it's not surprising that the bond between them, which is initially formed through necessity, soon becomes far more intense. It leads to a scene which is tender and passionate without ever being explicit. I think it was at this point that what was already an intriguing book became utterly riveting and I knew I wasn't going to be able to put it down until I reached the end.
Millie runs a working dairy farm which means there are frequently other people around, particularly her childhood friend and would-be suitor, Hugh and Land Girl, Brigsie so the developing relationship between her and Lukas is under an almost constant threat of discovery. Her decision to help him may have been courageous but there is never any doubt that there are immense consequences to her actions. She is a very likeable character for the most part but I appreciated that LP Fergusson ensured she never became too saintly - as the story progresses and she must face up to the ramifications of her choices, she isn't always fair to those around her. The book alternates between following Millie's perspective or Lukas' and so the reader often knows more about their respective tribulations than they do. While many couples went for months or even years without proper contact, their separation is perhaps even more heartbreaking due to their paramount necessity for secrecy to be maintained. Secrets are an integral part of the book beyond just those that Millie and Lukas are forced to keep, especially with regards to military intelligence and its far-reaching network up and down the country.
I've read many wartime novels set in cities but fewer that focus on the experiences of those living in rural areas. Although the imminent danger of bombings are further away, the war still led to many changes, many of which feature in A Dangerous Act of Kindness; the presence of evacuees (not just children, those whose homes were destroyed in bombing raids were also eligible for evacuation); Land Girls becoming part of the workforce; and most pertinently to Millie, the power of the local War Ag who could decide what crops should be grown and were able to serve orders to farmer requiring work to be done, with the risk that their farm could be seized if they defaulted. The attention to detail is fabulous giving a real sense of authenticity to Millie and Hugh's work - I could have easily believed that LP Fergusson grew up on a dairy farm.
A Dangerous Act of Kindness takes place over a number of years meaning that the impact of the war becomes an important theme. Some of the most poignant moments in the book come from Lukas learning about the atrocities being carried out by some of his compatriots. The Nazis' horrific actions  are reported second-hand rather than shown and are never gratuitous but remain a shocking reminder of their brutality. There is a clear distinction made between the ordinary Germans and those who were Nazis and I was struck by how difficult it must have been for patriotic men like Lukas to reconcile their love for their country with the knowledge that some of their fellow citizens were responsible for acts of unspeakable barbarity.
At the start of the book, I thought I would be reading an emotional story of love against the odds and it's true that there were moments where I was moved to tears. However, this is actually a far deeper and at times darker story about human nature in the most difficult of circumstances. It explores love of course but also loss, guilt, betrayal and hope. It acknowledges that in wartime friends can quickly become enemies but also recognises that even in the darkest times, people are capable of touching acts of kindness. I was completely captivated by A Dangerous Act of Kindness and loved everything about it - the enthralling main and sub-plots, the superb characterisation and the distinct sense of time and place. Just wonderful!

A Dangerous Act of Kindness is published by Canelo and can be purchased from the following;
Amazon UK
Kobo UK
Google Books UK
Apple Books UK

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

LP Fergusson grew up on the borders of Wales in a Tudor house on the banks of  the River Wye. As a child she longed to go back in history. Now she does, through her writing. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes University and won the Blackwell’s Prize for MA Creative Writing. Her stories have made a number of shortlists for competitions run by the Orwell Society, Oxfordshire Libraries and Flash500. Her psychological thriller reached the final three of a Quercus/Psychologies Thriller competition and her wartime novel A Dangerous Act of Kindness was Highly Commended in the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. She edits the historical blog With Love from Graz which was featured on BBC Radio Wales, Radio 2 and BBC4’s A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley. She now lives in an Oxfordshire village beneath the chalk downs where her debut novel is set.
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