Take Me Home
Dorothy Garlock’s Take Me Home caught my attention because of the hero described in the blurb – he’s a German PoW in 1945, escaped and hiding out in a small Wisconsin town. The premise reminded me a bit of a book which I read over twenty years ago but still remember, so I gave it a try. Take Me Home helped me pass the time while commuting, but it doesn’t rise beyond mild adequacy.
Taken prisoner by the Allies and sent to America, Peter Becker is relieved that for him at least, the war is over. Then the train transporting the prisoners crashes. Peter is chained to Otto Speer, who makes a run for it, dragging Peter with him. They find an abandoned cabin, with tools they use to break the chains, and Peter suggests he go to the nearest town for food and weapons. His father was American, so although he grew up in Germany, he speaks fluent unaccented English, and he won’t be caught. Salivating over the prospect of killing Americans in the Fuhrer’s name, Otto agrees.
In reality, Peter’s plan is to go to the nearest lawman and give himself up. But when he walks into the little town of Miller’s Creek, the first person he sees is Olivia Marsten, the beautiful young daughter of the sheriff. Instantly smitten, Peter stops to talk to her.
For her part, Olivia is fascinated by the handsome stranger. Yes, even though he’s been fighting in an army which wasn’t known for being well supplied in 1945, even though he’s been taken prisoner and transported across the ocean and survived a train crash and has been living wild for a while, you would never be able to tell it from his appearance. Then a car driven by the local drunk bears down on them. Olivia stands frozen, so Peter pushes her out of the way and gets knocked out. Olivia insists he be taken to her house to recuperate, and thus the romance begins.
There’s not much to be said about the characters. Olivia is a nice young woman who does what she can for the war effort. Her biggest problem is that her best friend Billy proposes to her at the start of the story. Not wanting to let him down before he leaves to join the army, she says yes, but it’s not as though her family will be evicted or her reputation ruined by breaking the engagement. As for Billy, he never stands a chance, since he’s ‘thin and gangly’ compared to Peter’s ‘broad, muscular physique and handsome, almost movie-star good looks’.
Peter, like Olivia, is as good and wholesome as he is gorgeous. He might have grown up in Germany, but he’s untouched by Nazi propaganda or even patriotism and doesn’t miss a single thing about his homeland. Since he’s fallen in love with Olivia, he hides the truth about himself, which proves to be surprisingly easy. But Otto is still at large, determined to wreak vengeance on Americans and traitors alike.
Otto is completely and cartoonishly evil. He spits insults to Jews and looks forward to raping Olivia, but at the same time, he’s ineffective. This is a light and feelgood romance, so his threats of a roaring rampage of revenge don’t pan out. And when he sets fire to houses, Peter shows up and saves anyone trapped inside. I’ve never read about a villain who did so much to help the hero.
Finally, although the setting feels authentic, the style didn’t work for me. People growl, hiss and bark their dialogue, and the narrative often explains what that dialogue meant.
“Hure!” he shouted, cursing her in German.
If a Nazi villain shouts this at a woman, I’m not likely to think he’s saying hello in Hindi.
Dorothy Garlock has published more than fifty books and I may try another of her romances in the future, especially now I have an idea what to expect. However, I can’t recommend Take Me Home. It was a quick and inoffensive read, but also not memorable in any way.