• Elysse Gracie

A Fire Sparkling Review

I just finished this book by Julianne MacLean. It was a historical romance set during WWII. The plot unraveled in so many mysterious ways that I was excited to read every single page.

Opening the novel, we meet Gillian, a woman in her mid-thirties living in New York. She's dating a very successful man and loves her career. And her world is falling apart. She's just caught her partner cheating on her, and she must ask herself if their love is worth a second chance.


Because Gillian's life is on the fritz, she escapes to her grandmother's farmhouse in Connecticut to process. Gillian's dad calls her on her way to the house, not knowing she is already en route, and tells her that he has some serious news to share with her. He's found some of his mother's old belongings in the attic, and he wants to see what Gillian makes of the new information.


Gillian's own romantic issues are put on the back burner as she delves deeper into her grandmother's history. After finding some controversial pictures of Gram in her hey-day, Gillian's father feels he must confront his mother about them. Gram, over the span of several days, realizes she must share the details of the lives she's once led. She's kept hundreds of secrets for over half a century, and the confrontation she thought would never come is taxing for all of them. Though Gillian and her dad are shocked, they must confront their own family history to know who they are...and who Gram really is.


Young Gram, Vivian Hughes, has lived all over the world. She was faced with dangerous opportunities to do her part for the war, and it was all top-secret and much more intense than her family could've dreamed. Gillian must fly to Europe, where her grandmother once lived, and track down the rest of the story. She meets a handsome man while there who is able to help her research her lineage. As the pieces come together, Gillian starts to understand why her grandmother has lied about who she is.


Nazis? Check. Love in the time of war? Check. An independent and free-spirited woman doing her best to get through World War II while grieving her entire family? Check. London's hottest night club has it all, including jazz singer and unattainable heartthrob Vivian Hughes.


I really enjoyed MacLean's writing. Gillian was very likable, and the Gram in her twenties was an exciting character to read. She was dynamic, strong-willed, confident, and drove me crazy at times. I thought there might be too much plot for this book to hold my interest, but I found myself truly invested in Gram's life. She was the focus of the book while Gillian was the opener and closer, so the story was never convoluted. It was interesting to see how revealing old truths shaped Gillian's view on relationships and helped heal the rift between her and her father. This multi-generational story made me cry, and I'd definitely read it again!


In my arbitrary/not-so-arbitrary grand scale, I'd give this book a 4 out 5 stars. ☆☆☆☆

While I'd read it again, I wouldn't read it every year.