Two Wars and a Wedding: A Novel, by Lauren Willig — A Review

From the desk of Jayda B. Justus:  

A sweeping historical fiction novel about love and loss in the midst of war.


 It’s September of 1896 in Athens, Greece, and American Betsy Hayes is a strong-willed, young aspiring archaeologist who is there to take part in excavations uncovering the day-to-day life of the ancient world. However, she runs into roadblocks set by the men in charge who don’t believe a woman should be at the dusty archaeological sites. Only one man believes in her dream, and they soon form a special bond. When a conflict between Greece and Turkey explodes into a war fought at the excavation sites, Betsy becomes a nurse to wounded soldiers and faces dire consequences that shatter her carefully crafted world.

Two years later, she’s back in the United States, putting her nursing skills to the test as part of Clara Barton’s Red Cross sent to care for American soldiers in the Spanish-American War. In the sticky jungles of Cuba and on the decks of a horrific medical boat, she encounters gory wounds and traumatic illnesses that defy treatment, but Betsy never gives up. Through a chance encounter with one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, she finds another wounded soul who may be just what she needs to heal and become the strong leader she’s meant to be.


Historical fiction that packs an emotional punch

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and loved learning about two unknown-to-me wars. It’s a searing look at the costs of war and the horrific long-lasting effects it has on all involved. I am always amazed at women from history who roll up their sleeves and get into the muck with the soldiers, enduring danger and pestilence to provide care. They are true heroines, and I am glad to see women from these little-known wars getting their due.

Finding love when you least expect it

The romantic aspects of the novel were just right, the tension, the kisses, the heartfelt moments where they saw each other’s soul. I fell in love with her eventual love interest myself! There’s nothing better than a kind gentleman, and I loved how the author emphasized that about his personality.

5 out of 5 Stars


♥ Historical fiction about relatively unknown time periods

♥ Sweeping stories of love and war

♥ Women who rise above challenges to become their true self

♥ Romance found in the midst of horrific circumstances


  • Two Wars and a Wedding: A Novel, by Lauren Willig
  • William Morrow (March 21, 2023)
  • Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook (448) pages
  • ISBN: 978-0062986184
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Women in War, Historical Romance


We received a review copy of the book via the Thoughts from a Page podcast, in exchange for an honest review. Cover image courtesy of William Morrow © 2023; text Jayda B. Jutus © 2023,, an Amazon affiliate.

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