Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Blog Tour Guest Post by Rachel McMillan, Author of The London Restoration

Please join me in welcoming Rachel McMillan to Let Them Read Books! Rachel is touring the blogosphere with her newest novel, The London Restoration, and I'm thrilled to have her here today with a guest post about endings and beginnings and cinematic themes in her storytelling. Read on and enter to win a paperback copy of The London Restoration!

From author Rachel McMillan comes a richly researched historical romance that takes place in post-World War II London and features a strong female lead.

Determined to save their marriage and the city they love, two people divided by World War II’s secrets rebuild their lives, their love, and their world.

London, Fall 1945. Architectural historian Diana Somerville’s experience as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and her knowledge of London’s churches intersect in MI6’s pursuit of a Russian agent named Eternity. Diana wants nothing more than to begin again with her husband Brent after their separation during the war, but her signing of the Official Secrets Act keeps him at a distance.

Brent Somerville, professor of theology at King’s College, hopes aiding his wife with her church consultations will help him better understand why she disappeared when he needed her most. But he must find a way to reconcile his traumatic experiences as a stretcher bearer on the European front with her obvious lies about her wartime activities and whereabouts.

Featuring a timeless love story bolstered by flashbacks and the excavation of a priceless Roman artifact, The London Restoration is a richly atmospheric look at post-war London as two people changed by war rebuild amidst the city’s reconstruction.


If my book were one of the movies I love, the credits would roll and the reel would end just as my action is beginning.

For in movies set in war time, the end is always the reunion between the lovers.  A violin score swells and the lighting design frames the embracing couple in sepia.  Somewhere a bird flies and the clouds part and the old war song "We’ll Meet Again" is made manifest.  The heroine is kissed brilliantly senseless by a uniformed soldier whose ardor inspires her left heel to raise off  the ground. 

Fade to black.  The theme overtakes the violin swell and I swallow the last of my wine and bunch the tissue holding the last of my sniffles and snobs.  Love wins.  Love reunites.

When I first met Brent and Diana Somerville, I knew that their love story would truly build during the restoration of the city that first witnessed their pre-war romance.  Even though they meet and fall in love before the bombs start to fall, even though they have an adorable meet-cute in a church yard and even as they marry before having to spend their wedding night in a Tube bomb shelter, I knew that the most romantic tenet of their love story would be their determination to rebuild their love even as divorce rates skyrocketed and reunited couples were wrenched apart by singular war experiences.

When Brent and Diana find each other after four years—their kiss isn’t a melting, foot-popping kind. She trips on his shoe, his lips meet her ear.  I just knew the synchronization, even in their first physical meeting would have to be real and thus imperfect imperfect.

Their foundation, as firm as many of the Blitzed Christopher Wren churches that entice architectural historian Diana, is the crux on which their love story, brick by brick, will be rebuilt throughout the core of the novel. As they learn each other’s rhythms again and their fluid movements and the timbre of each other’s voices and as they reconcile that the passions and similarities they had before they parted. When your wants and needs are different and you’re bound to someone for eternity, you’re almost starting at square one…

As a voracious reader of romance novels and historical romance novels, I have always loved tropes that feature a married couple.   You already have the backstory. You already have the commitment. You are starting in the middle of the chapter, in the happily ever after.  I think that this can lead to a more mature and still passionate love.  When you reignite a relationship that has already withstood the awkward first moments and the marriage night and the vows and the parting, then what you have left are two people exposed for their flaws, annoyed by how one burns the toast or how the other squeezes the toothpaste. Add in four years of secrets  (including a signing of the Official Secrets Act as Diana has done branding her a traitor if she reveals what she did at Bletchley Park while her husband Brent served as a stretcher bearer for the course of the war) and you have two fallible people who have to intentionally fall in love again. 

Perhaps this is why I have always loved marriage of convenience stories and, of course, stories like The Scarlet Pimpernel: where the married couple are plagued by issues of trust and secrets.  The lust and puppy love are off the table and the true romance they find as they peel off layers of mistakes and miscommunication can lead to a much sterner, deeper passion.

Diana and Brent choose to fall in love again.  Indeed, Brent vows to Diana that he will fall in love with her again and again as many times as he needs to.  This intentionality takes us out of the violin swell and fade to black and into a representation of how the world was rebuilding after a devastating loss.  A love story that mirrors the resiliency of a nation that would rebuild and restore what was blasted from under them and forge something stronger because of it. 

To me, The London Restoration is a very passionate story featuring two people who would die for the other while falling in love again not just with themselves but the city that witnesses each delicate note of their restitution. It’s in the broken places, the secrets and the cracks, in the awkward reunited kisses and the late night spats.  It’s something worth fighting for. It was why Diana decoded messages and Brent lifted stretchers…the possibility and hope…of a reunion and to start as new, stronger people grafted by war’s experience. 

And while that first reunited kiss at Charing Cross station didn’t raise Diana’s foot off the ground (it was more firmly planted on Brent’s own in a mis-step), I promise the reader that if they stay the course—just as my Somervilles—hearts were thrum: at the rebuilding of glorious bombed churches and the reunion of two people match-made for each other as they fall in love again and again and again…

Architect Christopher Wren said “architecture aims at eternity,” that’s what Diana and Brent aim for too. 

About the Author:

Rachel McMillan is the author of The Herringford and Watts mysteries, The Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries and The Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese romances. Her next work of historical fiction, The London Restoration, releases in Summer 2020 and takes readers deep into the heart of London’s most beautiful churches. Dream, Plan, Go (May, 2020) is her first work of non-fiction. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada, and is always planning her next adventure.


The London Restoration is on a blog tour!


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 copies of The London Restoration! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The London Restoration


  1. Thank you so very much for kicking off Rachel's blog tour today, Jenny! We appreciate the support!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. I do like the sound of this book!


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