Author: Sarah Sundin
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Sunrise at Normandy #3
Release Date: February 4, 2020
In 1943, Private Clay Paxton trains hard with the US 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?
Reviewer: Connie Porter Saunders
This book emphasizes the sacrifices of all who were involved in World War II, both male, and female, and it also justifies why these brave people were called The Greatest Generation.
Sarah Sundin completely captures the fears, determination, and deep patriotism, and vividly describes the horrors of war. Clay Paxton is the focus of this third book of the Sunrise at Normandy series, and he is the man that most parents would choose for their daughter. He proves this by marrying a young woman, to save her virtue after she has been brutally attacked. Leah Jones is the young woman that he marries, and I was especially drawn to this young woman who longs to be a librarian and yearns to find her twin sisters, the young orphan who has never eaten in a restaurant until her marriage. Being separated by war soon becomes a reality. It is through their letters to each other that Clay and Leah get to know each other and realize that perhaps their marriage could be so much more than just a marriage of convenience---if Clay can survive the war.
Sundin has written a beautiful story of faith, family, and forgiveness, and she reminds us of the amazing power of love. I highly recommend The Land Beneath Us to all who enjoy historical Christian fiction.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Abigail Harder
I truly have no words to describe how breathtaking this book is....as much as I love books 1 and 2, I honestly think this one is my favorite due to many elements woven throughout this beautiful novel. My heart is so full and I honestly do believe my pupils are in heart shapes right now. I am so in love!
Clay was a cinnamon roll who deserves that world and I am so happy with how this book ended for him. My heart ached for this poor man while reading his older brother's books, but I connected with him so much more and deeper through this novel. I saw what his brothers were talking about when they said that he was sweet, caring, and just a sunny character. His protectiveness and willingness to fight was so adorable and made me fall in love with him even more. Honestly all the Paxton boys are amazing and I am so happy with how this series concluded for them.
Just like Clay, I really, really loved Leah's character. I related to her on many levels, not all but most. She was a breath of fresh air to read about and even though she went through so much, she had such a positive attitude through it all. The way that she saw the positive in everything and trusted in God no matter what was so inspiring.
I really do wish all these characters were real because they sure do feel real. Mrs. Sundin does a FANTASTIC job as crafting realistic characters that you can relate to not only through their personalities but also their struggles. I found myself convicted on a few things throughout this series right along with most of these characters. Honestly though, I do hope I get a mother-in-law like Mrs. Paxton. She is such an amazing role model and just an amazing woman, I loved her so much!!
I loved all the connections with Joseph and the Prodigal Son woven through this book. I loved the way that Mrs. Sundin wove these Bible stories through this series and I loved how convicting it was even if I wasn't struggling right now at this moment, this whole series was still a great reminder that self-righteousness and unforgiveness is sin.
I loved this book so much. I don't even know what else to put in this review only because I can't place some things into words. Mrs. Sundin once again confirms why she is one of my favorite authors ever. If you haven't read her before, I HIGHLY recommend reading her now!
*I received an arc copy of this book from Revell books in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.*
Reviewer: Marta Alrighetti
This is the 3rd book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, set in the year 1943 in Tennessee.
The series tells about the Paxton sons: The Land Beneath Us is about Clay, The Sea Before Us is about Wyatt, and The Sky Above Us is about Adler.
Another main character of this book is Leah Jones, a young orphan woman with two dreams: to become a librarian and find her twin sisters. The Victory Book Campaign in WWII had a motto: "Books are weapons in the war of ideas," wow! I agree books are accessible for all people, they can help us learn new things, be independent and not feel lonely.
I enjoyed very much reading this book with its wonderful characters and interesting detailed story. I'm curious to read the 1st and 2nd books of the series!
This book was provided to me through Revell publishing and NetGalley, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
Thank you in advance to Revell Books for providing a complimentary review copy through Interviews and Reviews. A positive review was not required. All words and thoughts are my own.
This is the third and final book in the “Sunrise at Normandy” series. I was not able to read the previous two, but this could be a solid stand-alone read though I would HIGHLY encourage reading the previous two to get the full impact of this emotional saga.
This much-anticipated release is also one of the first to be featured on Revell’s Facebook page – “Beyond the Book” for the first “read-a-long.” It took me about 12 hours over three (3) days to finish.
As someone who isn’t into historical fiction, let alone “war stories,” I was drawn to this novel. The striking and stunning cover balances the love stories of the time with the brutality of World War II. Not only was the war itself brutal, but a brutal attack on Leah is also present. It sets the stage for what happens.
I was also drawn to it because my grandfather served in the Navy during World War II. He was on an escort carrier that had been hit by a Kamikaze. The ship miraculously stayed afloat, and there was no loss of life.
Sadly, he would pass in 1980 before I would get to hear his stories. While he told my mom some, there were others he never told.
Right off, this story is going to have a sad undertone due to the setting. This was a time that changed everything for the United States. Yet, despite knowing what was going to happen (at least on the war front), this was a novel I couldn’t put down. Nor did I want to. I could barely take notes for the read-along and my review. This story had messages of hope and inspiration throughout it despite the overwhelming sadness and despair.
The author’s writing was so vivid that I felt pulled back into time. So much so that I could almost hear the “big band music” while reading it. For those who don’t quite know what that is, think The Andrews Sisters “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” or Glen Miller.
I immediately fell in love with Leah and Clay. As in chapter two, “immediately.” Clay came off as such a sweetheart, and I found myself praying for him and hoping his “dream” wouldn’t come true. I kept praying he’d take the route he was being offered during his training.
Leah’s background tore at my heart. She was such a pure and innocent soul. I passionately despised a certain couple from her past. And, like her, I have found myself wondering why things happened to me.
As I didn’t read Sundin’s prior two books, which I will definitely purchase (as soon as I can afford them), I don’t know if the other two novels contained this intense story-telling, but this was intense. Sundin doesn’t back down from sensitive issues either.
There was one character I had a bad feeling about right off.
At times it is heart-breaking, hopeless, and sad. Yet, throughout, there was overwhelming redemption, hope, and charity.
Other themes were those of one’s past being held against them, false accusations, and prejudices. Sundin also delves into the different societal roles, particularly with orphan children and people’s perception of them.
The marriage of convenience is more in line with “biblical, charitable” love. Both Leah and Clay begin to care for each other throughout the novel.
There are a lot of Christian references. They are not overwhelming nor preachy in tone. But, context due to the time the story takes place in, it is completely understandable.
What really grabbed me was how one character came to their epiphany. And, in reading it, I was moved to tears. It is an emotionally moving end to the saga.
It is no wonder that the men and women of that time are called “the greatest generation.”
There was a recurring theme of sexual assault and murder of young women, though.
This is absolute perfection! 5/5 stars. It will be high on the re-read list.
Reviewer: Winnie Thomas
As soon as I saw the striking cover of this book with Sarah Sundin’s name on it, I knew I needed to read it. The Land Beneath Us is the last book in her Sunrise at Normandy series, and it’s a compelling and beautifully crafted story that is full of rich historical detail.
The settings are vividly painted and easily visualized. It was fascinating to learn more about the invasion of Normandy during WWII. Sundin’s impeccable research and knowledge about this era are readily apparent.
The characters are realistic, colorful, and flawed but engaging, and I enjoyed seeing them come to life on the page. Leah Jones and Clay Paxton are fantastic main characters with poignant backgrounds. I loved seeing their relationship develop and grow through unthinkable trials.
Uplifting messages of forgiveness, courage, faith, and joy despite trials are seamlessly woven into the story, along with the importance of family relationships. Although this book is part of a series, it can also be read as a standalone story. I recommend this book to those who enjoy inspirational historical fiction. I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading more from this excellent author.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Monica Huyser
The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin is not only a good story, but it is a book that I found spiritually stimulating.
Sundin surprised me with this plot initially. Clay was looking for something to live for, and Leah was looking for a place to belong. I wasn't expecting some of the challenges that these characters faced early in this book. Although I did expect a happy ending and I was glad for it.
This cover grabbed me right away. I purchased the first two books in this series (The Sea Before Us and The Sky Above Us), and I honestly intended to read them first, but I must admit I did not. However, while I may have recognized some of the characters from previous books in this one if I had read them first, I was still drawn in by this plot and read The Land Beneath Us within a couple of days.
There were a couple of places Sundin made me giggle at things that were said, but she also touched me deeply as I shed tears in other places. Of course, I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the series, but I also feel the book stands on its own merit. This book is a real inspiration for those who are struggling with forgiveness. In several places, both Clay and Leah made me think about what forgiveness really means. Sundin's characters also inspired me to think further about how we judge people based on what we see and not what we know. For me, this book challenged both my heart and my soul, and yet it wasn't preachy. These spiritual elements felt like a natural part of the story.
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group, Revell Division, through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin is the third book of the series Sunrise at Normandy. Ms. Sundin has given us another gripping glimpse into a pivotal time in WWII history.
A horrific personal incident and war have torn three brothers from their home in Kerrville, Texas. Can forgiveness and God’s love bring them back together? This story is primarily about Clay, the youngest of three Paxton brothers and his journey to D-Day in Normandy but also about reconciliation from an event that ripped their family apart. Clay was raised in a wonderful Christian family, so he likens his situation to that of the patriarch Joseph in the pit before his brothers sold him.
My favorite character is Leah Jones, who works in the library at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, where Clay is stationed. She is an orphan with a very tender heart for the downtrodden because of her background. She loves books because they were her only friends growing up. “Words make delightful playthings. They cost nothing, they never wear out, and no one can take them away from you.” Her goal is to find information about her younger twin sisters, who were adopted separately from her and discover her true identity, which was hidden from her.
Clay meets Leah at the library at Camp Forrest, where he is in Ranger school preparing to join the war in Europe. After an attack, he saves Leah’s life and offers a marriage of convenience. Though separated, they get to know each other through letters.
Can war possibly bring healing to the brothers? Has Clay truly forgiven his brothers?
Ms. Sundin has a firm grasp on how to convey faith and human nature and pours this knowledge into her characters, making them come alive. Her extensive research shines in the scenes about training and the invasion of Normandy, as well as the everyday hardships of the folks left behind at home. Faith in God is portrayed as the backbone of the Paxton family, and forgiveness is seen as a struggle but so worth the outcome.
The underlying theme of the series is The Prodigal Son. An excellent wrap up to a remarkable series. It is no wonder that it is one of my very favorites.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Amy Smelser
I have been looking forward to the conclusion of author Sarah Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series and to have Clay’s story finally told. I will never forget how the opening of the series began and to see the fallout of these three brothers’ relationships as a tragic accident happens. Now a few years after those events, Clay has signed up as an Army Ranger and is preparing to go to war.
Both of his older half brothers betrayed Clay, and I certainly felt for him. Except for the fact that he was not at all afraid to die. He welcomed it. For his family’s sake and this reader’s sake, I did not like his assuredness of his demise.
In steps Leah Jones. A woman who grew up as an orphan and is desperately looking for the rest of her family. She is also a librarian and loves to read, a girl after my own heart. Even though she has had a rough upbringing, she is still relatively innocent, and she is such a positive character. I was shocked at her words of wisdom for being so young and living through what she had.
After suffering a violent attack, Clay steps in to be her hero, and this story takes an interesting turn. They marry for convenience. That is my favorite plotline. I wanted to see how this was going to turn around during a war when one spouse has a death wish. They do write letters often to one another and I think through that medium especially they are able to open up more and it was a joy to watch them fall in love. Of course neither could see it or admit it but that was the fun of the journey with them.
The Land Beneath Us is also a story of forgiveness and reconciliation that Clay must have with his family, especially his brothers. I have enjoyed this series very much. I do believe it is my favorite from the author. At the start of book one, I was not sure how any of their stories could be redeemed after such a tragic beginning, but that shows good storytelling. My heart broke and rejoiced for these characters. I highly recommend the whole series.
I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a positive review, and all views and opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Abigail Harris
I was not prepared for this book. I knew I needed to read it, I knew I would enjoy it, yet I did not know how much The Land Beneath Us would touch my heart. After reading the first two books in the series, The Sea Before Us and The Sky Above Us (both of which I loved and even plan to reread in order), I was waiting in suspense for my copy of The Land Beneath Us.
What had me unprepared for this book was not the first books, but rather the depth of The Land Beneath Us. The realness of the characters, reading about all that had happened to Clay at his brothers' hands in the first books, was sad, much like Joseph's brothers treated him. It made me think Clay would have a simple and perhaps boring story of forgiveness where I would see forgiveness in the last pages but no true fruits. I could not have been more wrong. I am still unsure of what to say after a few days waiting to write my review, and I want to sigh in pleasure with the feelings I'm still reeling from caused by this book.
Sarah Sundin's skill in weaving this breathtaking conclusion to the Sunrise At Normandy series shows that her works only get better and that readers should be on the lookout for her next book. Read this one, and check to see if they have read her previous books.
I fell in love with Clay and Leah's romance that was not the normal trope you would find in War World Two fiction. But rather westerns, Regency, or such that quite commonly have marriages of convenience. The slow love, first as friends until it softly grows into something much more.
Both of the lead characters are wonderful to read about. It's sad to leave them, especially after seeing them through such tragedy and into a Biblical growth of character.
The ending brings to mind Genesis 50:20 which I love, seeing as Joseph is something of a favorite in the Old Testament, and I love finding stories that have the same lessons and are their own story without being too close to the true story of Joseph, his brothers, and God's goodness.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
In The Land Beneath Us, author Sarah Sundin has created the perfect ending to a thrilling series you will want to read again and again.
If you have read the first two books in the Sunrise at Normandy series, you already know Wyatt and Adler Paxton. This third and final book in the series introduces Clay Paxton. The story Sundin has weaved about the animosity between the three brothers and what started it comes to completion with Clay's perspective of the rift between them.
With the backdrop of WWII and Sundin's dedication to research and detail, the reader gets not only an exciting history lesson of our past (in fictional prose) but an added story of betrayal, forgiveness, loss and love in its purest form.
I loved the Prodigal Son aspect of this story. I had never seen that side of the prodigal story before. Thank you, Sarah, for insight into a tale I've read countless times in the Bible, but never seen from that vantage point before. What an eye-opener! Yes, you will have to buy the book to find out. I'm not spoiling it!
The love story between Clay and Leah was sweet and moving, despite the horror of how it began. The idea of both characters dealing with the same insecurities and needs from different perspectives tied their particular story together nicely.
I will miss the characters in this series, but the lessons both Clay and Leah learned will be with me for some time. Kudos to the author! This series and this book, in particular, will be one I read again and again.
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell, through NetGalley.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
"There are even more blessings I can't yet see. But I will. I only have to watch."
I've loved every book by Sarah Sundin, that I've read so far. I've also been a huge fan of the Paxton brothers from this Sunrise at Normandy series. I have been anxiously waiting for the youngest brother's story to unfold. And, boy, the book was worth the wait. Though it's the third and last book of the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.
I enjoyed the details of the Army Ranger training Clay goes through as well as the close-up and emotional look at D-Day from the ground. The series focuses on true forgiveness, mercy, grace, reconciliation, and recognizing and embracing their place in the world. Still, each book and set of hero/heroine are so different and unforgettable. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially set during WWII, you will love this book and the series.
I have to confess that Clay is indeed my favorite Paxton brother. As the youngest and the one to whom most wrong has been done, he feels that he has the right to be angry, disillusioned, and hopeless. Yet God tugs at his heart to be kind and sacrificial, and he obeys. Clay's tender spirit that wants to heal and encourage swept me off my feet. And Leah, man, her story is heartbreaking, and she's had as much wrong done to her as Clay, but her hopeful heart and soul cling to God and a brighter tomorrow. How she loves books and children made us instant friends. We also get to meet the Paxton parents in this book, which was so delightful. What a beautiful conclusion to a fantastic series!
I received a copy of the book from Baker Publishing Group via Interviews and Reviews. I was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
Reviewer: Raechel Kelly
Goodness, do I love Sarah Sundin's novels! Each one of them has become a favorite, and I always eagerly await the next. It was such a treat to be able to read The Land Beneath Us - it is such a beautiful conclusion to this wonderful series. The epilogue pulled everything together so nicely and filled me with all the warm feelings.
The characters are so beloved - I immediately took to the main character Leah (Thalia) in this book, and Clay was a perfect hero. Their relationship was amazing, and I so dearly loved reading their story. They each went through wonderful journeys, and the faith message was lovely.
I don't have one bad thing to say about this book. It was so good. So, so good. I'm a bit sad to finish this series, but glad it is one I can revisit time and time again. Excellent WWII fiction.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Lori Parrish
This book, y'all! This author! She sure knows how to tell a story. It blew me away!
This story hit too close to home for me. The only difference is Leah was able to accomplish her goal where I wasn't. Sometimes letting go is the best thing. I really admired Leah. I mean, I sat down and bawled right along with Leah.
I love the gentle reminder that was in the book. Our Father in Heaven loves us very much. There are certain things and reminders that we need to have as an eye-opener, or it could be something else. Either way, He never leaves us or forsakes us, and for that, I will always be eternally grateful.
I wouldn't say I liked how Clay kept repeating the same thing all the time. It did get on my nerves after a while, but he is a good man. I loved how he took his responsibility seriously, and I really enjoyed how he carried his weight through the war. He's my hero minus the theory he had set for himself.
I really loved how he finally prayed and asked for help. People can be so stubborn sometimes. The second thing that I loved about Clay was his music. See, I'm a musician myself, so I could feel it when he played. Just beautiful!
No one knows their future. Only God knows. He is the one who knows when our time is up.
The other reason I enjoyed this book so much was that my grandfather fought the Germans in this war. This is what got me started loving WWII stories. Forgiveness goes a long way too. Please do it for yourself. That way, you'll have some sense of peace. Chances are the other people that wronged you will accept it and vice versa.
This is truly an amazing story! Sundin has gone above and beyond in this book. I couldn't put the book down because it was so good. The cover of this book is gorgeous as well. Revell has done a fantastic job as always.
I highly recommend this book! My thanks to NetGalley and Revell for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own. No compensations were received.
Reviewer: Linda Klager
The cover of the book showed a beautiful woman's concern as she thought of her sweetheart climbing the dangerous cliffs at Normandy.
I can't imagine the immense grief Leah felt to have lost her parents and her two younger sisters. The loneliness and despair of being an orphan must have been terrible. And then to have been mistreated by others, too. Leah related her unloved life to Leah in the Bible.
His brothers mistreated Clay Paxton. Clay related his life to Joseph's life in the pit. I thought this was a wonderful way to depict the Old Testament Bible story with his life in the 1940s. I also admired the way the author seamlessly included Scripture, while Leah and Clay were living their lives. Later on, Clay realized he was living the life of the older brother of the New Testament story of "The Prodigal Son." Wow, what a God moment Clay had! That made me stop and think about my own life. Do I need to ask for forgiveness?
The author's research on military life and weaponry was astounding. I could picture the areas of service both in America and overseas.
I thought it very interesting Clay's outlook on life. He had a true servant attitude. I wonder if many others have gone into the military with the same attitude that Clay had.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Olivia R.
A story captured with encouraging lessons and characters portrayed with authenticity in a setting of a war that affected the world.
I adored Clay and Leah from the start. I knew before I began this one that it would be a completion of the trilogy that was necessary and beautiful. But as I read, I soon realized it very quickly reached my favorite by this author. Clay needed something to live for. Leah needed a family to love her. Their struggles and trials and the beauty of their relationship were woven so well. I adored the romance and how it played out. I felt this story so deeply, and the stunning cover matches the book perfectly. What I especially loved about Clay and Leah's story is that there's a strong message of joy amid difficulties. This is a topic that has been much on my heart over the years. And it was written so well.
This is a story that will affect your heart and bring smiles and tears. Be sure to read the series in order, so that when you pick this one up, you will be even more taken in by the war, love, family, and trials that come Clay and Leah's way.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
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