It’s late 1918. The Great War is approaching its end, but for Geoff Chambers, going on 21, the war may never end. He’s home in Juneau, Alaska, from the trenches in Europe, missing most of both legs. He’s bitter, angry, and suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His family needs to get him away from Juneau. Reports of the Spanish flu epidemic are everywhere, and they need to isolate him from it so his physical recovery can continue.
Josephine Nimetz is 17. She works as a seamstress to help support her struggling family, but she also has experience nursing an ailing man. She’s on her way to deliver gloves to Mrs. Chambers when she’s accosted by her drunken stepfather, who’s demanding money for alcohol. He knocks her unconscious, and the Chambers find her and bring her to a room in their home. During the night, she hears a voice calling for water and discovers Geoff, who looks the very shell of a man.
His father makes an offer to Josephine and her mother. If she will care for Geoff at the family lodge on a nearby island for several months, until the threat of the epidemic passes, she’ll be well paid. Josephine and her mother agree, even though the girl knows she faces nine months caring for a young man who wants to die. In fact, the doctor gives him no more than two years unless something drastic changes in his attitude. Complicating Josephine’s work is that Geoff is already addicted to morphine.
Until June by Barbara Britton is the story of what happens on that island between Josephine and Geoff. It’s a romance novel, but it’s a bit unusual in not being a straight-line romance. There’s Geoff’s health, the deadline of when the job will end, family complications, and a friend of Geoff’s who is something less than kind to Josephine. There’s also the occasional bear, and a lurking dog that looks more like a wolf.
Britton is the author of three romance novels in the Tribes of Israel series and three in the Daughters of Zelophehad series, aimed at teens in both the Christian and general markets. She’s a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Ullustrators,, Romance Writers of America, and Society of Wisconsin Romance Writers. A native of San Francisco, she lives with her family in Wisconsin.
Until June is solid, well-written historical fiction, with a well-researched geographic setting and background of World War I. It’s also a simply good story; I was so taken that I read it almost in one sitting.