The Secrets We Left Behind

Written by Soraya M. Lane
Review by Peter Clenott

World War II did not start out well for the Allied forces. In Europe the Germans were on the attack. As Soraya M. Lane’s novel begins, the British army is in retreat at Dunkirk. Cate is a nurse in a field hospital treating the wounded when orders come to evacuate. But not everyone can go. Straws are drawn. Because the most desperately injured can’t make it to the boats, Cate is among those who stay behind, risking captivity and death. One of those wounded men is Jack.

The Secrets We Left Behind follows Cate and Jack’s flight from the hospital, their daring nighttime journey through the French countryside where they manage to avoid German patrols until they reach the farm of Elise and Adelaide. These two brave young women have witnessed the brutal slaughter of a British regiment and have taken in Harry, one of the only two survivors, at risk to their own lives.

This is a fast-paced action-romance set in a world that is not as complete as it could be. How much time passes? Where is the farm in relation to the coast and to the local village? What is happening to their neighbors and friends? Greater detail of a world gone mad would have enhanced the sense of jeopardy. Likewise, the Germans appear fortuitously thick at times, less menacing than stupid.

Surrounded by an enemy led by the commander responsible for the British massacre, Cate and Jack, Adelaide and Elise and Harry have to figure out how to survive. What may undermine them are not only the German occupiers but the secrets they keep hidden from each other.