Basic Training Of The Heart by Jaycie Morrison is a WWII lesbian romance that opens when Elizabeth Carlton arrives at Fort Des Moines for basic training with the Women’s Army Corps. The daughter of a socialite, she tells everyone her last name is Smythe, and although she’s supposed to stay inconspicuous, she immediately pulls a stunt to distract a nasty drill instructor away from a vulnerable squadmate, putting all eyes on her. Lucky for Bett, Sergeant Moore was just filling in for their actual instructor.
Sergeant Gale Rains is no stranger to difficult new recruits, but Bett is on a whole other level. After long keeping herself separate from everyone, including her fellow officers, Rains isn’t used to anyone trying to connect with her the way Bett does. The WAC is her first real home since her father took her and her brothers away from the Sioux reservation when she was a small child, and she’s not willing to risk her safe place for anyone, especially a spoiled rich girl (no matter how beautiful she may be).
Even if Bett doesn’t like the rigidity of military life, it’s better than rolling over and succumbing to her father’s desire for her to stay under his thumb. The more she watches Sergeant Rains, the more she realizes she has a gentle, personalized touch for each of the squadmates. Can Bett possibly get through to the only person who’s stirred her heart in a very long time?
Between the two leads, Bett’s squadmates, and a number of officers and other people on the base, Basic Training of the Heart has a large cast and Jaycie Morrison does a great job of keeping everyone distinct. I enjoyed reading about Bett and Rains, both together and separately as each woman grew and changed thanks to the presence of the other in her life. Bett is an educated woman whose pampered upbringing bristles against the gender normativity and rules of military life. Rains depends on those rules and regulations for her daily stability and endures racism and isolation to keep her own personal peace. They couldn’t be more different, and yet each woman slowly adjusts to understand the other’s position so that eventually their pieces just seem to fit together.
Speaking of the squadmates, I’m happy to hear this is the first book in a series because I want to see more of these women. I’m hoping Jo Archer’s book will be next because she has a boldness and heart that made her every appearance fun to read.
The Writing Style
Basic Training of the Heart is an interesting and clearly well-researched book. I felt immersed in the time and appreciated that the style made it very easy to read while taking in so much information. The romance burns slow and it also builds slowly throughout Bett’s eight weeks of basic training. This made it believable and satisfying for me when they finally end up together, even if I wonder what happens to them when the war is over.
Everything worked so well for me about this book that I was surprised to learn it’s the author’s first.
Just a heads up that there are a couple of nods at sexual assault although none happen on the page in the present timeline.
There are some great WWII lesbian romances out there and you can count Basic Training of the Heart among them. It’s well worth a read and I look forward to seeing what’s next in this series.
Excerpt from Basic Training Of The Heart by Jaycie Morrison
After a stop at the restroom, they went to the parade grounds. Rains stretched out on the bleachers and watched the sky as her recruit ran. By the last lap, Bett’s pace had slowed considerably.
The sergeant was standing as Bett panted to a stop. “You’re not injured, are you, Private?”
“No, but I need to eat.”
Sergeant Rains crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows. “Kindly address me as your officer, Private Smythe.”
Bett breathed an exaggerated sigh. “No, Sergeant Rains, I am not injured. But since you asked, I am hungry.”
“I think that you will miss dinner tonight, Private. But I will bring you something while you are doing your KP.”
They began walking toward the mess hall. “How long is this KP going to take?” Bett asked.
Rains didn’t answer.
Bett rolled her eyes and emphasized the name at the end of her question. “How long is this KP going to take, Sergeant Rains?”
“That depends on how fast you are at peeling potatoes, Private Smythe,”Rains replied evenly.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626398184
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Note: I received a free review copy of Basic Training Of The Heart by Jaycie Morrison. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.