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Friday, November 6, 2015

Review: Save my place by Olivia deBelle Byrd + author interview

Save my place by Olivia deBelle Byrd
Release date:
My Rating: 4.5
Buy here: Amazon, BN

Blessed with an innate optimism and a magical childhood, Elisabeth Belle Sterling discovers that the path to happily-ever-after love is not as easily obtained as she had always imagined. 

The Camelot-like love she longs for seems like only a dream until she meets the handsome Kincaid Patterson, a West Point graduate who carries a dark secret from his past. 

Theirs is a passionate and unconditional love that has to confront a painful past, heart-searing separation, and the greatest of all tragedies. But the biggest obstacle is the loss of faith that threatens to undermine all that they have. 

Set in the South during the 1960s and 70s against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Save My Place is a beautifully written love story of two people who search deep within their souls to save each other.

My Thoughts:
Olivia deBelle Byrd did an amazing job of writing this story in less than 200 pages. I was awed at how much I truly enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written and it broke your heart at the same time. We follow Elisabeth through dating in college and all the disasters to finally meeting Kincaid, the man of her dreams. We go through deployments and heartbreaking loss. Elisabeth has to be one of the strongest female leads I've read in a while. When everything is falling apart, she keeps it together. Every woman should read this book. Growing up in Charleston, Sc, this book reminds me of my Gram and everything she endured. There's not enough words to describe what I feel about this book.

Author Interview
1.     What inspired you for this story?

I am an incurable romantic, so it was only natural I would be want to write a love story. The first part of the story actually happened. It is based on my college boyfriend at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, at the same time period. (Of course, I have changed the names and appearances!) Once Kincaid enters the story, it is almost all fiction.

Elisabeth Belle began “talking” to me not long after my first book, Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, was published. I was very busy at the time, but finally after she kept “talking”, I got up in the middle of the night and wrote her character. From there, the story developed. I have always been drawn to books because of the characters (I WAS Nancy Drew), so it is no surprise this story all began with a character.

It is set in the 1960s and 70s because that was my “coming of age” period—high school, college, marriage, children. I have wonderful memories of those days, and I loved putting the memories into the written word. It was especially fun to bring in all the pop culture of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

The Vietnam War was a very pivotal and divisive period for my generation. I was in college when the U.S. had the highest number of troops deployed in Vietnam. There was a lot of angst among my male counterparts (all males could be drafted as this was before the draft ended in 1973), so it made quite an impression on me. Also being a huge daydreamer, I use to daydream if I married a military man and he went MIA what that would be like. So I incorporated that into the story.

Finally when my children were younger, I had a friend who moved here after she had lost a young child. She handled that greatest of losses with such courage and dignity I never forgot it. She had since moved, but I relocated her, we met, and she beautifully shared that experience with me which I put into the story.

2.     Besides her faith, where did Elisabeth get her strength and positivity from?

Elisabeth was blessed with a magical childhood. She had stable, loving parents, an amazing grandmother, and a close knit community. Her strength and positivity came from the role models she was surrounded by. Her father’s keen intelligence instilled in her a lifelong quest for learning, her mother was a pillar of strength, and her grandmother taught her empathy, optimism, and kindness. She was never coddled and taught to be independent and strong.  

3.     What do you want the readers to take away from this amazing story and the characters?

I believe love can be a bond that conquers all. But we have to build the bond, and we have to give and take to make it happen. I also feel a belief in a higher power takes us outside of ourselves and helps us develop a strength that will sustain in our darkest times and give us hope and joy always.

Author info
Olivia deBelle Byrd