Just Once


By: Karen Kingsbury

Published: November 14, 2023

Publisher: Atria Books

Christian Historical Fiction

4 stars

This is Kingsbury’s first historical fiction novel and I think her fans will love it. She has never written a novel during this period in history and she took great care to get the details accurate. Beyond the story of WWII, there is a sweet romance between kids who have grown up together their whole lives.

It’s the summer of 1940, Irvel Holland and brothers Hank and Sam Myers are living their best lives. Hank and Irvel are best friends but there has always been a feeling of something more, especially after a particular incident while walking along the river. But, neither one has acted on their feelings and they both grow up and head off to college. Irvel ends up dating Sam and then WWII begins.

Kingsbury is known for her heartfelt novels and this one will touch your heart. If you like chaste romance stories, historical fiction, or family stories then this one will be for you. Irvel, Hank, and Sam deal with a lot of struggles and roadblocks during their young lives. War isn’t kind to their families and Kingsbury paints an accurate scene of war both on the battlefield and at home.

…maybe some far-off day they would laugh fondly at this time in their lives. When the lives of love and friendship blurred and none of them could grasp the seriousness of what the future held.

Even though Ivrel is with Sam, you know that Hank is her one true love, but both are too stubborn to admit it. Then WWII tears them apart and you wonder if they will ever be able to be a couple. Kingsbury weaves a realistic story of war, first love, loss, and a secret that once finally shared will be a fun reveal to the character.

Karen Kingsbury’s stories, if you didn’t already know, have a Christian background. The characters rely on God and the Bible and trust in Him to reveal the answer to their prayers.

God was the answer…why hadn’t she thought of that before? She felt her body relax more with every passing breath. She was His…and He alone could give her peace.

I was reading this story as I was staying overnight with my dad during his illness. This passage calmed me so much that I read it over and over again during that week. Sometimes characters and the readers all need a little reminder of God’s ever presence in our lives.

Click HERE to purchase a copy of JUST ONCE

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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