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Grayton Beach Affair

James Harvey

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Paperback | 328pages
ISBN: 978-0-9845564-0-3

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Reviews

SHANNON PEARCY: BOOKS DEVOURED

Moms fried chicken, mashed potatoes, speckled butter beans and desert with caramel sauce. It doesn’t get any better than this!

What Did I Think?  I think I am in Love with Christian, the main character in Grayton Beach Affair.  It happened so quickly I was not even aware until I realized that I was almost at the end of the book and would have to let him go.  Christian is German but was raised in America and even graduated from Georgia Tech.  After World War I though, Germans in America faced discrimination and he and his parents were no exception.  After his parents died he decided to go back to Germany and start a new life for himself.  A German man who speaks english with no accent and can pass as American was very valuable to Germany during World War II.  Christian has no choice but to enter the war effort on Germanys behalf.

Maggie is a woman who loses her fiance in the attack on Pearl Harbor. She flees to Grayton Beach Florida to try and get herself back together, but her situation gets worse before it gets better.  Much worse.  She meets another man named John Logan and he is up to no good.  I have to admit that I loved Maggie too, in a way.  I admired her bravery, her strength and her attitude.  I think that she is a woman who is not going to play a victim. She is content to be her own hero if she can. There are some squirm worthy things that happen and I wanted to cheer for Maggie when she did things I wish were legal, but they most decidedly were not. 

This is one of those books that I want to sit down with you, have a cup of coffee and tell you every amazing detail.  I don't want to ruin the story for you though, because it was amazing.  Christians mission brings him to Grayton Beach and Maggie is there trying to find her way back to happy.  Those two people end up needing each other in so many ways.  I thought that I was going to be reading a story about war and devastation. Instead I am quite sure I read a love story that also happened to take place during a war. 

I read this book in one sitting.  I don't mean over the course of a day, I mean I sat on my bed and started page 1 and did nothing else until I finished page 314.  I can not promise it will be like this for everybody. There was some rated R content, this one is adults only.  I really enjoyed the parts that were about the war, there were not overly long explanations of the specs of WWII aircraft or anything like that.  The story stays focused on Christian and Maggie.  I wish that I had copies to give away because I assure you that I can not part with mine.  I know that I am going to read this again one day and love it just as much as the first time.

I urge you to give this one a chance! I know it seems a bit outside of the books that are normally on the blogs, but this is at its heart a love story.  This book makes me wish I were a better writer so that I had the words to convince you to buy this book!  

BOTTOM LINE: THIS BOOK WAS LIKE A FIRST LOVE; UNEXPECTED, INTENSE, FULL OF SURPRISES AND WONDERFUL!

 

The Grayton Beach Affair by James Harvey

Just when you thought that you knew everything, or had read everything,you could about WWII, along comes something new. For example, I knew that German U-Boats were active off the Jersey Shore but didn’t know that they were very active in the Gulf of Mexico by Florida and Louisiana. I never even thought about a POW camp in the United States until this book came along. Harvey has written a book about cross and double cross, murder, mystery, international intrigue and a shot or two of romance.

The story opens in a Florida of yesteryear when life was a lot simpler. No internet, cell phones or cable TV. What a different world! This world allows the story to proceed without interference.  It is a story that could not happen in today’s world.  I’m not saying that it’s good or bad, just different and interesting.  There are German spies and Prisoners of War. There is a Southern Sheriff who appears not to be bigoted. There are locals who are insulated and caring. There is a  black family who is way ahead of the times, as is the main female character!

The story centers on a German American, Christian, who is disillusioned with America and returns to Germany before the start of WWII to help rebuild Germany.  He is pressed into service by Germany and fails in his mission; it is that failure that is the story. Harvey tells the story of this man on two continents while telling the story of the French Resistance. This part of the story is well researched and well written,a little simplistic at times, but well done.

 The female in the story, Margaret, is ahead of her time at times and then again very much in them. For example, she goes to a deserted area of Florida to get over the death of her fiancée, something that young women of the 40’s might not do. In the end, she winds up in a job, secretary to the president of a company, and engaged to the boss’s son, something that would be expected of women in the 40’s. There is a character, John Logan, in the story that is truly evil. Margaret deals with him as a woman in this decade might do. The Sheriff in the story is given a minor role and the murderer in the story is never really brought to justice.  This is the book's only short coming. In retrospect, if the murderer had been brought to justice, it would have been a very different story.

I really enjoyed this book. Harvey has a way of telling a story without making it overly complicated. It is just plain refreshing to read his work.

This review can be found on my blog http://janiesreads.blogspot.com

 

War, deceit, a love affair, and more await the reader of "Grayton Beach Affair" by James Harvey. Christian Wolff is an unsettled man who would love nothing more than to stay under everyone's radar and simply live his life. However, war has come to Germany and the things he loves and enjoys are changing. As a German who grew up in America and knows it well, the German hierarchy not only notices him, but they have a job for him to do. He is forced to "volunteer" to extract a German scientist, Dieter Braun, from an American prison camp in southern Florida. After traveling to America via U-Boat, Christian must keep his German heritage secret, find his way to the scientist, and get back to Germany without anyone discovering the plot. But, circumstances conspire against him, as they so often do, and Christian meets a woman named Maggie Neal. They have a brief love affair but Christian leaves, thinking he can leave his feelings for Maggie behind, and reappears in France. There he joins the French resistance and realizes that his life would be better spent in America with Maggie. Will Christian find Maggie? Does she want to be found and, if so, will she ever trust him again? What happened to Dieter Braun, and how did Christian escape being caught by the Germans?

This is an intriguing book that keeps a reader interested with the story line and characters. I found the story compelling and easy to read, with many thrilling moments of war and love. I recommend this book to lovers of historical or romantic fiction, as well as reading groups. There are some great topics of discussion here.
— Donna Safford

Harvey has written in Grayton Beach Affair, a compelling novel that weaves together historically accurate WW11 German submarine activity in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast with a tender and passionate love story that is compelling. Few know about how close WW11 was to the NW Florida coast and this book reveals this in a most creative way. The covert action of the Germans is played out against the beauty of Grayton Beach and its surroundings; one of the loveliest and earliest beach resorts in the Florida panhandle. Harvey has researched these events and places carefully and his characters have depth and credibility. It's an excellent page turner that you will not easily put down.
— Will Garrison

"Present day Grayton Beach, a quaint village on the sugary sands of the Florida Gulf Coast, is taken back to the WWII
era in this action packed novel. Harvey convincingly weaves together a thrilling tale of espionage and Southern romance,
bringing the reader's imagination to life with lucid historical detail."
— Lindsey Kafonek, Panama City News Herald

"A war story for the men and a love story for the ladies, Grayton Beach Affair combines the action and suspense of war with the passion and romance of a beautiful love story in one compelling novel.  Harvey does an exceptional job of painting a vivid picture of the Southeast U.S. in the 1940's.  From the sleepy seaside town of Grayton Beach to locales throughout Atlanta, it is easy to visualize the setting for this unexpected story of action and romance during WWII."
— Tracy Louthain, Beaches of South Walton Tourist Development Council.
 
"It is refreshing to see a beloved place like Grayton Beach portrayed in a work of fiction.  It provides both a historical and cultural context of the area as well as giving the reader a sense of time and place in parallel to one of the most significant World Wars in history."
— The Thirty-A-Review Magazine

Summary

Returning to Berlin after being educated but disenchanted with America, Christian Wolfe finds that he and Germany are on a collision course with destiny. Because of his skills in English and knowledge of America, he is coerced by the German military to board a U-boat bound for the Gulf of Mexico to locate and extract a high level German officer imprisoned in a POW camp near the coast. Christian's mission runs smoothly until he witnesses an unusual and violent act by Maggie Neal, a young woman living in Grayton Beach, against a man who had taken advantage of her and her servant. Suddenly their lives collide, resulting in a death and involvement with the local police. He and Maggie discover they need each other to survive. Sparks fly and they have a brief and passionate affair, leaving each with deep but unsettled feelings for the other. Upon returning to France, Christian relies on his instincts when an opportunity arises to reconsider his future. He joins the French Resistance and when he saves an American flyer who offers him a new start in America after the war is over, he seizes it. Arriving in Atlanta, he is determined to find Maggie, but with their relationship founded on death and deception, could they possibly build a future together?

About the Author

Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading Grayton Beach Affair.  I am always interested in hearing back from readers with their thoughts on the book.  If you participate in a book club that plans to read Grayton Beach Affair, please let me know and I would be happy to call your group and discuss any questions the members may have over a speaker phone.  If you are not in a book club, but would like to offer some feedback, I would love to hear back from you. 

Either way, you can contact me at j.harvey@graytonbeachaffair.com

James Harvey was born in a small textile and farming town in South Alabama just a few miles from the town portrayed in To Kill A Mockingbird. His family was a poor, but genteel southern family more resembling a Tennessee Williams story than Margaret Mitchell. Harvey’s grandparents owned a home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida where he spent summers and heard stories of World War II German submarine activity in the waters off shore in the Gulf of Mexico.

Upon graduation from Troy State College, Harvey borrowed enough money for a one way ticket to Key West where he taught for a year at Key West High School. During this time, he fell in love with Florida and especially Key West where he enjoyed fishing, diving the reefs and navigating the local bars. In the spring of that year, Harvey met his wife-to-be, Marie, on a Friday and asked her to marry him the following Monday. He courted her on his only means of transportation - a motorcycle – and they will soon celebrate 43 years together.

Realizing that he would rather be in the jungles of Vietnam than the high school class room, Harvey attempted to join the military as an officer, but due to a military oversight, was given a deferment. He reluctantly left the Keys and began a successful career with IBM, first in Boca Raton and then in Atlanta. During his IBM career, he went to law school in the evening and was awarded a Juris Doctorate in 1984 from Woodrow Wilson College of Law. Realizing that most new lawyers barely make a living, Harvey used his degree to leverage advancement in the business world. After taking an early retirement from IBM, he began a second career in commercial real estate brokerage and development in Atlanta, advancing to Vice President of one of Atlanta’s largest office park developers.

The stories of German submarine activity that he heard growing up continued to intrigue Harvey, and in 2007, he began work on his first novel, Grayton Beach Affair in his spare time. In 2009, he made the decision to write full time and is currently working on his second novel. 

Harvey and his wife live in North Georgia where he fly fishes the North Georgia and the Rocky Mountain trout streams when not writing. Living in Key West opened Harvey’s eyes to the beauty of the area and influenced him to pursue sport fishing, diving and sailing throughout the Keys and Bahamas. They also live part of the year in the Panhandle of Florida where he fishes the Gulf waters.  

 

 


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