London, 1941. In a loveless marriage and haunted by the death of her only child, Catherine Cavanaugh has neither hope nor joy in her life until she meets Jack Maguire. Within weeks they are lovers.
But war is unpredictable. Spencer Cavanaugh is sent on a career-enhancing mission to the Philippines with only one condition: Catherine has to go with him. Refusing to lose the woman he loves, Jack also makes his way to Manila. Not long after they arrive, the Japanese attack forcing Catherine, Jack, Spencer and others into a harrowing adventure to escape the marauding Japanese army.
Brave Hearts is a very enjoyable read. The early part of this story is a little overwrought with emotion, and the instantaneous attraction between Catherine and Jack was too much for this reader; however, once in Manila the story gathers momentum, and tension builds with the threat of Japanese invasion.
Through Catherine and Spencer, Carolyn Hart offers amazing details about the invasion of the Philippines and the defense of Corregidor, the island fortress American soldiers defended for months. In parallel, we experience the fall of Bataan through Jack’s journalistic exploits. Beyond these famous battles another story unfolds: that of the effort to keep the Philippine treasury, in particular its gold and silver, out of the hands of the enemy. Spencer Cavanaugh was sent to Manila for precisely this purpose. Hart tells this part of the story and Spencer’s obsession for his duty to great effect.
A final note: according to Corregidor.org, “overseeing the last of the night time loading of the large metal boxes of gold bullion was Admiral Hart of the US Navy”. A coincidence? Who knows.