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Publisher's Summary

A country fighting to stay free. A woman with an impossible decision.

In November of 1939, Sini Toivola is sure of two things: She loves Marko Linna, and she has a comfortable life in Helsinki. But when the massive Soviet army invades her beloved homeland and Marko spurns her affections, her life is turned upside down.

Needing a fresh start, Sini decides to join the female volunteer corps - the Lotta Svärd - and is sent to serve near the front lines. Service at a field hospital proves to be a good distraction, until Sini discovers a Russian soldier lost behind their camp.

Duty requires her to turn him in, but her heart begs to keep him safe and help him escape. Torn between love for her country and love for her enemy, Sini must choose.

But no matter what choice she makes, heart-wrenching consequences await them all.

©2019 Annette Lyon (P)2020 Annette Lyon

What listeners say about The Girl in Gray

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good narrator but not my kind of book

This book is well written and gives a good picture of the war but it wasn't my cup of tea. I'd probably give 4 stars for writing but I just didn't like the story that much. I listened to the audio-book and was muddling along just fine until Sini harbors an enemy soldier in camp and almost immediately falls in love and has sex. And that was when I began to dislike listening to it. I kept thinking how Sini is so love starved and insecure that the first moment someone actually pays attention to her she gives him not just food, supplies and shelter but also her heart and body. I ended up not really liking Sini as a character. She seemed too pathetic. Marko is dense about Sini's feelings for him and takes advantage of Sini's desperate hope for his love as she constantly feeds him free meals etc... Leila is too angelic. Nikolai might have been my favorite of them except that he also takes advantage of Sini though his feelings are probably more real. I just didn't really love any of them. And because of that the book felt long. A lot of the romance aspects of the story I predicted would happen but there was some stuff in the book that totally came out of the blue and my response was kind of an "ewww". I didn't like those surprises. I think if you love war stories where romances don't end up tied into a nice pretty bow you might like this story better than I did.

Part of what I didn't like is that I expected this author to always write "clean" romance and in this book there was sex, language and violence. I wasn't expecting it. The sex was fade to black, I think. When the foreplay got descriptive I skipped ahead because I just didn't care so there could have been more written about it than I thought.

The narrator did a good job with the characters and the Finnish names etc.

Sex: yes
Language: some, including Deity
Violence: it is a war story
*I received a complimentary copy of this audio-book from the author and voluntarily chose to review it.

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Love and loyalty complicated by war.

This story does an excellent job of highlighting the extraordinary role Finland played in the war. I had never heard anything about Finland’s role before and loved the historical context of the story.

This story has love, though it’s not a traditional romance. It follows characters that feel real as they struggle to figure out where their loyalties lie. Who can they protect, and who must be betrayed? Can a person betray their country by loving the wrong person? We follow our main character through her life as she faces a multitude of tough choices that will tear her apart.

Interesting premise, entertaining story, and satisfying ending. Well done.

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Outstanding Story & Listen🎧 Riveting & Heartfelt!

This is an amazing historical fiction, it is beautifully written and told. I am new to Annette Lyon’s work and I will definitely be checking out more of her work. She is a gifted author, I enjoyed her writing style, her descriptive details brings you into the story along side the characters allowing you to see and feel what the characters see and feel. I found the story completely engrossing and could not pull myself away. The storylines and characters that are realistic and easy to relate to which makes the story even more meaningful and moving. You can tell how much heart the author but into this book. The story takes place in Finland, winter of 1939, the Russians are invading Finland which turns in to an 105 battle. The lead character is Sini Toivola, she lives in Helsinki and has been in love with Marko Linna, who finished med school. She learns her feeling are not reciprocated, Marko has feelings for someone else, someone she can not have. Needing a change she volunteers to help with war efforts, becoming a “Lotta Svärd” which will bring her to the front lines. With no special training she becomes support services helping out in a Medical unit. She becomes friends with Leila, small world her husband was Marco’s best friend. Marko was also sent to the front lines, first working with a combat unit, then sent to a medical unit before returning to combat before the war’s end. Sinni learns what real love is like and realizes her infatuation with Marko was just that, an infatuation. Life during wartime is not a pretty one, we witness some of the atrocities that go on and what they went thru, gut-wrenching and heart-rending at times. The author does a great job presenting some of the challenges those serving faced. The book is well plotted and the story flows naturally. There is plenty of drama and emotions in this story and you can tell how much heart the author put into her work. I highly recommend it, it is a great historical fiction, there is plenty of drama, action, heartfelt moments, heartbreaking ones and a bit of romance. Annette Lyon, thank you for this stunning, heart-pounding story and emotional journey.

Krista Nicely is a fabulous narrator and voice artist. She does an amazing job portraying the characters, bringing them to life, giving each their own voice and personality. You could hear how much heart she puts into her work as she captures the characters emotions and projects them into her performance. She is an entertaining storyteller and a pleasure to listen to. Thank you for another great listen🎧

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Compelling Listen with Stellar Narration

The Girl in Gray is a compelling/unpausable audiobook that highlights an aspect of WW2 history that is seldom discussed or written about. Krista Nicely's performance is captivating and she navigates the transition between different character viewpoints as smoothly as possible. Nicely's mid-Atlantic/neutral accent serves the story well and her pronunciation of non-English words is authentic but not ostentatious or distracting.

The story is written in third person omnipotent and switches between the three main characters: Sini, Leila, and Marko. The reason this story is 4 star for me rather than 5 star is because I did not find the development of the secondary characters Leila and Marko as compelling as the character development for Sini. In fact, the book opens with a greater focus on Leila and Marko and I wasn't really "hooked" until Sini was followed more closely.

This is an audiobook that is well worth the listen and I definitely recommend it for fans of authors such as Kristin Hannah, Melanie Benjamin, and Ruta Sepetys.

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Couldn’t stop listening

This is the first book by this author that I have listened to. I really enjoyed it. The main character bugged me at first but she grew through the plot. She learned and became who she should be and wanted to be. She made mistakes (we all do!) but became reflexive on her life and what she needed to do to grow.

I love history and the main characters lives are entwined in the conflicts in Finland during World War 2. It was nice to learn their war strategy and to hear a different part of the history of that war.

This book made me think about the realities of war and how much it affects those who serve and the countries who are attacked.

I didn’t want the book to end because I want to learn what Finland did and how they handled Germany and Russia attacking at the same time. I want to know how the lives of the main characters continue. I am hoping this is the first book in a series.

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More than worth a listen

Historical fiction is usually not my genre of choice, but I absolutely loved this book. I connected more with the characters than I have with any character for a long time. I felt their loves, their fears, their heartbreaks like they were my own. The Girl in Gray looks at love and war and human connection through a realistic, unromanticized lens and gives listeners a chance to see themselves and their own struggles in the story. I loved every minute of it, and as a bonus I learned some Finnish history along the way. The narrator's voice lent a nice tone to the story without being annoying or distracting from the book, an even more impressive feat considering all the Finnish she had to pronounce!

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Rich with Symbolism

Honestly, I started this book without any expectations and my initial impression of the book unfairly judged it as a sappy romance novel with a seemingly weak woman at the center. It took me a couple of chapters to connect with Sini.

I'm so glad I stayed with it! The Girl in Gray proved a spell binding historical fiction about the Winter War between the Soviet Union and and Finland in 1939.

Since world history doesn't spend time on these events and Finland often seems forgotten, this book opened my understanding to the importance the strength one small nation can make on the outcome of war.

Lyon takes her readers on a tour of Finland introducing Finnish culture, landscapes, traditions, and historical details that forever leave her readers enlightened. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing life through the eyes of a Finnish Lotta Svärd during the winter of 1939.

The Girl in Gray depicts how war is not only unpredictable but unforgiving. This compelling novel illustrates the significant role of women volunteers supporting military efforts in the Finnish army with their labors of love and nurturing. Lyon portrays that not all warriors fight with arms. More importantly, the human spirit awakens to the concept that not all on conflict is black and white. Sini Toivola, in her gray Lotta Svärd uniform becomes an evocative symbol of the gray area between duty and humanity.

I appreciated that Lyon, who is a well known author in Christian circles, kept the novel clean without dilluting the story. She could have easily applied the high moral standards of characters from her previous books in this war torn area of Scandinavia. However, she artfully demonstrates the most likely behaviors of the characters in this setting which manifests her commitment to history over popularity.

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An incredible story

What and incredible story! I love historical fiction novels. It is an easy way to learn about our past. I’m glad I listened to it. I’m no good with foreign names and places. This book had many turns and twists that I did not see coming. Excellent work!