The Folly of Redemption

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Ellen Porter knows that joining the Army Nurse Corps in 1944 will bring adventure. But when she unwittingly falls in love with a surgeon with a complicated past, she gets much more than she planned. My book, “The Folly of Redemption,” is a 130,000-word historical novel set in the 1940’s. Its protagonist, Ellen Porter, shocks her conventional friends when she refuses her boyfriend’s marriage proposal and enlists with the Army Nurse Corp. Thrilled with her newfound independence, she leaves her comfortable home in Connecticut for a remote military hospital in eastern North Carolina, where she meets a taciturn surgeon named Wils MacKenzie. Dr. MacKenzie is struggling to redeem himself for his role in an unauthorized, criminal operation orchestrated by his powerful grandfather, who was the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. To effect redemption, Wils has pledged himself to serve as a spy in the newly-formed Office of Strategic Services and is training for a mission behind enemy lines. Ellen reluctantly falls in love with Wils. When Wils is set up by a duplicitous double agent, captured, and tortured, Ellen must call upon the boy whose marriage proposal she refused two years earlier to help her rescue Wils from a notorious German prison, deep in the Ardennes.

Romance / Adventure
5.0 3 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter One

May, 1942

I stood on the train platform in Bethel, Connecticut, trying not to cry. A ragged sob broke loose. Great. I reached down to grab Peter’s hand, and pulled him up off his bended knee. “Oh, Peter,” I said, sounding strangled, hugging him against me and snuffling into his chest. I did not have the courage to look at him, so I kept talking into his coat. “You know I can’t. I can’t, Peter! I do love you …but, no.” And so I broke the heart of my best friend, the boy whom I had grown up with, raced horses through the winding New England lanes of my childhood, belly laughed until purple, lain in the warm grass kissing beside the brook. His own breath caught in his throat, I could hear it, after all, pressed against his heart. Finally, he pulled away, looking down on me from his height, and I forced myself to meet his eyes. I saw no reproof, just confusion. And sadness. Heartbreaking, breathtaking sadness. I wiped my nose on my sleeve and reached out to rub my snot and tears from the front of his stiff new Army jacket. I drew in another shaky breath and tried not to hate myself as he slid the ring unobtrusively back into his pocket. When he looked back down at me, it was with his familiar lop-sided grin. “I’ll be all right, Elle,” he said convincingly. “Look, no big deal, all right? Stop crying, Jesus. I’ll probably have forgotten you by tomorrow or the next day.” I punched him in the chest, right in the crystalizing line of my own snot that I had just tried to wipe away. “I do love you, Peter Willoughsby, you know I do. You’re my best friend.” He folded me into a bear hug, then, and I closed my eyes, savoring his closeness, his smell, his size, his feel. Surely my heart would explode. No organ could possibly take such strain. But it just kept mercilessly beating, and he pulled away and stepped to the door of the train, smiling bravely as he disappeared inside. I again wiped my nose with the sleeve of my nurse’s uniform, and straightened my skirt. I felt overwhelming, constricting sadness in his absence, and yet I could not deny some relief that my autonomy had survived. I unconsciously rubbed my left ring finger with my right hand, taking guilty comfort in its nakedness. How did I become such a heartless person? Good God, Ellen Porter, I told myself crossly as I walked away, you are the most terrible person alive. The early morning birds of summer chirped and flitted nervously overhead and the wan 6:00am sun promised a beautiful May day. My feet clicked competently across the asphalt, belying my obvious inability to function as any normal warm-blooded American woman should. I walked miserably to my father’s dusty black Packard. I needed to get back to the University. I needed to stay busy. I started to cry.

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