Book Review: Lighting the Stars by Gabriele Wills

Publisher:  Mindshadows, November 2020
Category: Historical Fiction, World War II, Historical Romance
Tour dates: May-June, 2021
ISBN: 978-1775035411
Available in Print and ebook, 477 pages

Lighting the Stars

Tucked into the rugged Canadian wilderness of Muskoka’s majestic lake country, Merilee Sutcliffe’s peaceful town seems worlds away from the escalating conflict in Europe. But life is about to change dramatically in the Summer of 1940. As her patriotic friends and relatives leave for battle, her small town is thrust into the war machine. Merilee’s formerly tranquil skies soon roar with aircraft from the Royal Norwegian Air Force, stationed nearby to train young men determined to liberate their country from Nazi occupation.  When German Prisoners of War march into her shocked community, they become Merilee’s closest neighbours – and biggest threat.

What unfolds in her remote town and on foreign shores sets Merilee and her growing circle on a collision course with an unimagined destiny. Caught up in the chaos is Luftwaffe pilot Erich Leitner. Shot down during the Battle of Britain and transplanted to a lakeside prison in Muskoka, he discovers he has more to fear from his comrades than his captors.

While her cousin-in-spirit, Elyse Thornton, navigates the treacherous skies of Britain as a Spitfire Girl, audaciously ferrying warplanes from factories to airfields, Merilee becomes quietly entangled in her own dangerous liaisons on the home front. Caught between worlds, with conflicted loyalties and a sense of duty, she joins the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division, and soon finds herself in ground-zero London, focussing her photographer’s lens on a city under bombardment.

Far from carefree summers on the lake, struggling to survive the relentless demands and sacrifices of war, Merilee, Elyse, and their friends wonder if they dare to risk their hearts as well.

As unlikely lives intersect, ideologies and social hierarchies are challenged, loves and friendships are forged or broken, and countless heroes are made and lost.  But even those who return to the serenity of Muskoka are changed forever.
Mindshadows Paperbacks

Guest Review by Sal

A stunning blend of emotionality and research, ‘Lighting The Stars,’ by Gabriele Wills is a novel for the ages.

Set in the summer of 1940, ‘Lighting The Stars’ centers around a large cast of characters, most of whom are living in the Canadian town of Muskoka, a peaceful lakeside community that used to have a large sanatorium.

Although World War II is in full swing in Europe, the only action that Muskoka has seen before the beginning of the novel is the local airport being used to land Air Force planes. But that all changes one summer afternoon when fifteen-year-old Merilee Sutcliffe is approached by a solider who informs her that the town is soon to be used for a German POW camp.

Soon, life in the small town begins to change at a rapid pace, and the lives of the people that live there are changed as well. Merilee begins to question her place in the war effort, how she can help her country and how many friends and family members will have to enlist. Her best friend Peggy, disabled by a polio outbreak three years earlier, is dismayed to discover that the POW camp is going to be set up at the abandoned sanitorium that is directly next to her house. Her family vows not to leave the land.
Meanwhile, a German pilot by the name of Erich Leitner is brought to the camp and soon begins a relationship with Merilee that will have lasting consequences for both of them.

Wills has created such a beautiful novel full of inspiring messages and relatable characters. I can only imagine the amount of research that goes into writing a novel of this caliber and she pulled it off seamlessly. ‘Lighting The Stars’ is both unmissable and unforgettable. I can’t wait to see what this author decides to write next!

About the Author

Gabriele Wills is the author of 6 highly acclaimed historical novels, including 4 in The Muskoka Novels saga set in North America, Britain, and Europe through the two cataclysmic World Wars and the seductive Jazz Age.

Her passion is to weave compelling stories around meticulously researched and often quirky or arcane facts in order to bring the past to life, especially with regard to women’s often forgotten contributions.

The first novel in her ‘Muskoka Novels’, ‘The Summer Before the Storm’ was the “Muskoka Chautauqua Reading List Winner”



3 winners of a print or e-copy of Lighting the Stars.

Print copies are open to the US and Canada only. Gifted kindle is open to the US only and Kobo is open to anyone who has a usable account on Kobo. Giveaway ends on June 20, 2021, midnight pacific time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Tour

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus May 26 Tour Kickoff & Interview

Connywithay May 27 Review

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews May 28 Excerpt

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus June 1 Review

Kristen BookNAround June 2 Review

GudReader Goodreads June 4 Review

Laura Lee Celtic Lady’s Reviews June 9 Guest Review & Guest Post

Linda Lu All Things Jill-Elizabeth June 14 Guest Review

Betty Toots Book Reviews June 15 Review

Bookgirl Goodreads June 16 Review

Bee Book Pleasures June 17 Review

Bee Book Pleasures June 17 Interview

Am Goodreads June 18 Review

Patty Books, Cooks, Looks June 21 Review & Excerpt

Sal Bound 4 Escape June 23 Guest Review

Lu Ann Rockin’ Book Reviews June 24 Review

Denise June 28 Review

Amy Locks Hooks, and Books June 29 Review

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Lighting the Stars by Gabriele Wills

  1. teddyrose1 June 23, 2021 / 12:47 pm

    Thanks so much for hosting and thanks to Sal for her thought provoking review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gabriele Wills June 23, 2021 / 2:23 pm

    I’m delighted that you enjoyed the book, Sal! Your thoughtful and kind comments are greatly appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.