Kellie Wallace. 2015 has been a productive year for her. One of her recent releases is a historical novel set during WWII, Her Sweetest Downfall.
At the height of the London Blitz, Viola Craft, a sexually repressed
young woman is trapped in a loveless marriage to her God fearing husband
Vernon. She spends her days working in her mother's dress shop while
Vernon pulls the dead from the rubble with his rescue crew.
Their marriage is turbulent and Viola feels pressured to bear a
child. After failed attempts, Vernon believes she's barren and alienates
himself from their marriage.
One night during an air raid, she meets alluring German born
Kristoff Richter. They make an in-stant connection. He's young, good
looking and emphatic. They embark on an illicit affair that leads to
I am delighted to finally see this work in print. I had the pleasure of
reading the early draft, under a different provisional title at the
time, and I had no doubt that this novel would eventually find a home
with a publisher who would not be so concerned about sticking the novel
into one particular niche. The cover is overtly erotic, tastefully so.
I'm thankful that it's handled in a blue-grey color scheme. Full color
covers featuring naked lovers definitely belong in the erotic romance
section, and Her Sweetest Downfall goes beyond that genre.
genre fiction, characters are more black and white. Their actions
are a little too consistent with their beliefs. Genre fiction relies
heavily on stock characters and situations, generic conflicts with
generic resolutions. In psychologically authentic fiction that is more
reflective of real life, people's actions are often paradoxical.
Morality is very conditional and fluid - very much like human loyalty
As a critical reader who focuses on the form and
style, I appreciate the skillful juxtaposition of universal, impersonal
evil, which is used as a back splash in the novel, and the pedestrian,
trivial, everyday acts of brutality that people commit against each
other. The cliche assumption is that war brings people together and
makes them set their personal petty differences aside. And it's true to
some extent that the character do engage in activities to benefit their
country. Still, that doesn't stop them from abusing those closest to
them. They risk their lives rescuing victims of bomb raids, and then
they resume cheating, raping, beating and insulting. Take Vernon, the
husband of the female protagonist Viola's, a man who digs through debris
with his own hands to look for potential survivors, and then comes home
to make his wife miserable. Every tyrant has a pathetic side. Vernon
carries around a bundle of insecurities regarding his masculinity, his
ability to sexually satisfy and/or impregnate his wife. He views
divorce as a great sin, yet that does not stop him from taking a
mistress and trying to start a family with her. Another example is
Lori, Viola's friend, who mourns the death of her infant love child in
France, "Losing a child destroys you" - after having terminated three
Still, the most contradictory character is
Viola herself. Even after falling for the charms of a German-born
milkman, she is not too hasty to sever the ties to her boorish husband.
Having allegedly found the love of her life, she still hesitates to make
the final leap, so for a while she ends up sitting on two chairs.
Interestingly enough, her state is far from agonizing. In a way, she
enjoys the duplicity of her situation and the uncertainty of her unborn
child's paternity. In a traditional romance novel, the heroine would be
tormented by guilt and barely tolerating the bedroom duties with her
husband. However, Viola learns to derive pleasure, excitement and a
certain sense of empowerment from her duplicitous sex life. For once she
understands what cheating husbands experience. In Her Sweetest Downfall, the author exposes the glorious hypocrisy of human nature.