Where Treasure Hides

Where Treasure HidesWhere Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Tyndale Publishing on July 15, 2015
Pages: 357

 

Artist Allison Schuyler has spent her much of her life working in her family’s well-known art gallery, devoting her life to art in an effort to avoid the family curse. She is convinced that falling in love will only lead to tragedy as she has seen in her family. Her resolve is tested when she meets Ian Devlin in a chance encounter at Waterloo Station. The bold, compassionate British Army captain’s attraction to her causes her own resolve to waver. Their obligations take them separate ways, and as World War II breaks out, despite distance and danger, Allison questions her fear of love. While Ian fights for freedom and survival on the battlefield, Allison and her family work with the Dutch Underground, hiding priceless works of art, and more importantly, Jewish children who would otherwise be taken by the Nazi occupiers. Even when the war’s end is in sight, its consequences have lasting effects that threaten to keep Allison and Ian apart forever.

Johnnie’s debut is a solid entry into World War II based fiction. It is more of a romance set during history, than a historical story with romance. This isn’t a bad thing, but I do think something that potential readers might want to know going into the story. It is obvious from the outset that this is going to be a romantic story, and while I do like romance, I was a bit surprised at how quickly the romantic relationship begins – literally within the first chapter. I prefer more build-up in the romantic relationship than was provided here, but in the spirit of the story, I suspended my belief until the plot moved more toward what I consider the meat of the story.

It is obvious from the outset that this is going to be a romantic story, and while I do like romance, I was a bit surprised at how quickly the romantic relationship begins – literally within the first chapter.

Once the story passed the introductory stage, I was more drawn in by the details of art. Allison is an artist in her own right and very passionate about the artistic legacy of the Van Schuyler family. The theme of the “Mona Lisa question” that plagues her is well done – that hypothetical question being, as an art devotee, if she could only pick one, would she save the Mona Lisa or a child? Of course, she said the child, but her passionate reactions to protecting art lead her to be unsure of her ready answer to this philosophical debate.

Johnnie shows readers several different sides of the war – how it was toward the beginning, the Nazi stealing of artwork and life as an escaped prisoner of war. These glimpses of the war are fascinating, although some readers may find the big jumps in time a bit jarring, as I sometimes did. Another thing that might give readers pause is Allison’s belief in a family “curse” or fate. It seemed strange to me that a character who is a Christian would put such strong credence into a suppose curse. I know the point is for her to overcome her fear of it, but that didn’t always ring true to me. This is something that might not work for one reader, but then be totally fine for another.

Johnnie shows readers several different sides of the war – how it was toward the beginning, the Nazi stealing of artwork and life as an escaped prisoner of war.

Ian Devlin, the British Army lieutenant, faces a different kind of hardship throughout the war; he is an admirable male lead, and the scenes that feature him were the most suspenseful and riveting, yet also the most poignant, as he is forced to take life in order to save another and later come to terms with it. Johnnie doesn’t sugarcoat Ian’s experiences, and it adds a gritty, authentic feeling to the narrative.

Since the romantic aspect wasn’t what ended up drawing me into the story, as a couple, Allison and Ian are pleasant enough to me, but not fully engaging. I was more engrossed in their separate stories than I was when they were together. I admit to being a little lost toward the end of the story; Allison makes a decision that didn’t strike me as realistic, and once that happened, I was a bit less engaged in the story. Her behavior seems to contradict her spirit and behavior throughout the rest of the novel; I didn’t feel her despair but rather an acceptance of the situation. Ultimately, it does lead her to fully realize that art does not trump life, so for that reason, I found the climax of the story compelling.

Despite my few qualms with this story, overall, I did enjoy Where Treasure Hides.

Despite my few qualms with this story, overall, I did enjoy it. As a debut, Where Treasure Hides shows a great deal of promise for Johnnie’s future books. The ending is quite intriguing and leaves plenty of room for a sequel. I see that Johnnie has a contemporary romance releasing next, but since there are a few lose ends in this story that made my heart ache for Allison, I sincerely hope that there might be a follow-up in the future.

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