BOOK CLUB: Love and Retribution

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Love and Retribution by Catherine McCullagh is a historical fiction piece. It’s set in England and Germany in 1943 during World War II.

It is a suspenseful story of love, loss, secrets and retribution.

London nurse Emmy Penry-Jones’s husband, Toby, is killed at Dunkirk. Emmy is grieving — they had only been married for two months.

Her brother Marcus, sister-in-law Delia and their children fled the UK to Canada before the war started.

Now, from afar, Marcus expects Emmy to leave the job she loves and move to the west coast of Cornwall to nurse their ill father. With a large house on the cliffs and stunning views of the ocean, Emmy does find peace and remains to care for her mother after her father passes.

On an early morning walk along the beach near her house, she finds two men. At first sight, they appear to be dead, but she takes them home and she nurses them back to health.

It was not uncommon for sailors to be washed up on Cornish beaches. Usually, when they are well enough they travel to London to the Seaman’s Mission. However, there is something different about Max and Kurt. She wonders if she should believe their story.

A friendship and attraction develop between her and Max. Peter Carmichael, Emmy’s husband’s best friend, keeps an eye on Emmy. He is not impressed with her house guests!

The story shows us village life in Cornwall during wartime. It takes us on a journey to Europe and Germany. Also, after the war has ended, we experience Hamburg and the trials for war crimes. 

Max is in the Navy, Peter is in the Army and we see the war from all angles.

The story is not just a well-researched history book, it’s also easy to read with clever writing that brings the characters to life.

Emmy is a fantastic character, as are Max and Peter. Muriel, her mother, Marcus and “that Delia” provide family humour.

The book is an excellent read. A romantic love triangle, danger, suspense, twists and turns and an unexpected ending keep you enthralled.

Well worth reading! 

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Love and Retribution by Catherine McCullagh. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

You may also like Resistance and Revenge by Catherine McCullagh:

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Love and Retribution

  1. It is 1943 and Emmeline Penry-Jones, a nurse and a war widow of only 2 months returns to her family home on the coast of Cornwall. She is exhausted, so is taking a break from nursing and taking the time to grieve the loss of her husband Toby, who died at Dunkirk. Her brother Marcus and his social climbing wife Delia and their children have fled London to see the war out in Canada so it is up to Emmy to care for her parents when they become ill.
    It is not uncommon for sailors to be washed up on the shores of Cornwall but two men Emmy finds one morning are not the usual shipwrecked sailors she has encountered in the past. She takes them to her home to nurse them back to health. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the men and Peter, Emmy’s husband’s best friend and officer in Naval intelligence is concerned the men aren’t who they say they are. Are they enemies spies or allies? The drama begins to unfold and it is riveting reading.
    I love historical fiction and this is a real page turner.
    There are strong characters who you will love and bond with. Themes of loss, mystery, loyalty, revenge, family ties and romance will keep you reading well into the night.
    A truly great read.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s an historical fiction story and is historically correct apart from the name of the village and people.
    Emmy is a strong character and is able to detach from the will of her cowardly brother Marcus and his dreadful wife Delia who run to Canada at the first sign of war.
    I was glad of the way Emmy conducted herself for Max and Michael. The ending was wonderful.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Another beautifully written historical fiction and is historically correct apart from the peoples names and name of the village
    Emmy is an amazing character
    and the ending was wonderful.


  4. I really enjoyed this war time story which covers the chance meeting of Max and Emmy. The first third of the book is set in Cornwall and the author is quite descriptive of the events that happened there .

    I must admit the next section covering the war efforts of Max was not particularly of interest to me, but I understand that it was relevant to the story and I persevered.

    The last third, while again a lot happened and made for easy reading, the ending became a little bit predictable, but a lovely way to finish, and I enjoyed it none the less.

  5. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Love and Retribution by Catherine McCullagh,

    Catherine definitely doesn’t disappoint in this war drama.

    Emmy is the main character who is strong and resourceful in wartime.

    Emmy finds sailors washed up on the beach regularly, but one day she finds 2 that are in a bad way but they are set to change her life forever.

    An amazing read with interesting characters and a great story with twists and turns.

    Highly recommended ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  6. At the top of a cliff on the Cornwall coast sits a house built with its eccentricities by its original owner, near to the small country town with close knit community. The house inherited by Emmy’s family, she finds herself moving there to care for her ailing parents during the time of turmoil in WWII.
    Emmy, having seen her share of war hardships, widowed just two months after becoming Mrs Emmiline Penry-Jones, and threw herself into her nursing in an atttempt to save herself from dispair. When her father takes ill, her brother, a coward who fled to Canada just before the start of the war, insists she return home to care for them, giving up her London work. Despite being initially saddened and frustrated by the directive, Emmy moves home, cares for her father until his final days and finds herself staying on as her mother then takes ill.
    Making the most of a bad situation, Emmy plays her part in the family as best she can. With the war raging on, her coastline brings shipwrecked sailors/soldiers which add to her caring and helps her feel that she still contributes to the countries needs during war. When two Czech soldiers wash up on her shore her life gets tilted and turned in a way she could not see coming.
    Despite times of war, you cannot sometimes help who you love, the situations that occur and finding your allegiance tilted, as it did with Emmy, her washed up young men and some of those around her. Even families can turn on each other in the name of what they think is right.
    This read tells the tail of controversy, confrontation (inner and external), love, betrayal and the sheer need to stay alive. It will have you holding your breath and hoping that the outcome you want will occur, if you can figure out how you want the story to end…
    Thank you Beauty & Lace, the author and publishers for bringing out this good, emotive read.

  7. I highly recommend this book. It had me hooked from the start. I loved the character of Emmy, the London nurse.
    I also loved the character of her mother.

    Having moved to Cornwall to look after her father. In 1943 Emmy finds two men washed up on the beach and that’s where the story of love and revenge begin.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Big Sky Publishing for my copy to read and review.
    Catherine McCullagh has done an amazing job putting this wartime love story together for all to enjoy and I will look forward to reading more of her books.

  8. Love and Retribution by Catherine Mccullagh.

    The war has been going on for almost 4 years and it is now 1943. Emmeline Penry-Jones, a war widow of 2 months moves back home to the family home on the Coast of Cornwall. She is a nurse but is taking a well deserved break to grieve losing her husband Toby. She has also moved home to look after her parents after her brother Marcus, wife Delia and children have gone to live in Canada.

    A common occurrence on the beach below the family home is rescuing sailors who have been washed up on the shore but the sailors she finds one morning are not like the usual sailors that have been shipwrecked in the past. She takes them home to nurse them back to good health but discovers there is more to these sailors than she first thought. Emmy is now involved in a world of intrigue, romance, revenge, family and mystery and who knows where it may lead her.

    Great characters, and a wonderful read.

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