The Land Beneath Us
by Sarah Sundin
Series: Sunrise at Normandy #3
Published by Revell
Publication Date February 4, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Action/Adventure, Clean Romance
Setting: Tennessee, England, France World War II Era - 1939 - 1946
Main Character Ages: 18-24
Written for: Adults
In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the U.S. Army Rangers at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, determined to do his best in the upcoming Allied invasion of France. With his future stolen by his brothers' betrayal, Clay has only one thing to live for—fulfilling the recurring dream of his death.
Leah Jones works as a librarian at Camp Forrest, longing to rise above her orphanage upbringing and belong to the community, even as she uses her spare time to search for her real family—the baby sisters she was separated from so long ago.
After Clay saves Leah's life from a brutal attack, he saves her virtue with a marriage of convenience. When he ships out to train in England for D-Day, their letters bind them together over the distance. But can a love strong enough to overcome death grow between them before Clay's recurring dream comes true?
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Also in this series: The Sea Before Us , The Sky Above Us
I’ve been looking forward to reading The Land Beneath Us, but now that I’ve finished, I’m a little sad this wonderful series has concluded. So now that I know how things worked out – I’m so glad!! It was the perfect conclusion. I even got teary at the end.
I could easily fill this review about all the things I loved about Clay. His innate need to heal. His compassion. His protectiveness. His kindness. The way he didn’t question whether to do the right thing. The way he wanted to play by the rules – even in a time of war. His insecurity caused by being a “half-breed”. His brokenness. His need to forgive from his heart, which he longed to do – he just didn’t know how.
Clay’s struggle to forgive his brothers had him realizing his role in the prodigal story of his family. And he didn’t like it one bit! He struggled with pride, hurt and unforgiveness, as many of us do. Thankfully, he had a much stronger desire to have a right relationship with God. It was humbling and convicting to watch his spiritual journey.
The recurring dream Clay had of how he would die allowed him to display a bravery he might not have had otherwise. “This isn’t how I’m going to die”. It allowed him to not second-guess his choice to marry Leah when she discovered the rape had resulted in a pregnancy. After all, she would be able to get his pay and his benefits and he wouldn’t be losing a thing. Poor Clay hadn’t realized that this marriage would make him want to live and question his resolve.
Instead, I could fill the review about Leah and why she tore at my heart. An orphan who had been separated from her twin baby sisters when she was only four. Who had been treated with contempt because of her Greek heritage. Who had grown up knowing little but want. Who still understood love and forgiveness in a way many never will. Who was full of kindness and grace. Who exemplified such strength after being treated abominably.
Leah’s longtime desire was to be a librarian. She had an incredible love for books and words and sharing them with the world. Though her I learned so much about wartime efforts to bring books to the soldiers through book drives.
She also had a heart for orphans, understanding personally what it was like to be cast aside. I was so surprised to see the attitudes of people towards orphans – as if the very fact of them not having parents was a reflection on them. She had been questing her entire life to discover who she was, where her sisters were, and to finally belong.
But if I only told you of the way I loved Clay and Leah, I would be negligent in telling you many other wonderful things about this story!
I loved the way Clay and Leah’s relationship was mostly established through their letters. And how they struggled to navigate their marriage of convenience with an expiration date.
I don’t remember loving Clay’s mom in the other books in this series as much as I loved her here. Her mother’s heart and the way she so quickly embraced Leah and cared for her in such a beautiful way touched my heart.
As with the other books in the Sunrise at Normandy series, I learned so much about the preparations for the D-Day invasion and the events that ensued. I was fascinated to learn the ways the Rangers trained and their role on the ground. Keeping the focus on the action and away from gore, Sarah Sundin made history come to life.
While I could gush on, I’ll spare you and simply recommend you read The Land Beneath Us and read it. After you’ve read the first two books of the Sunrise at Normandy series, of course. You could easily read this as a stand-alone; however, the author does not reiterate the details she has already covered in the first two books here so you will miss out on so much if you skip the others.
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