Angel of the Seneca.

Book Review for “Two Wars and a Wedding” by Lauren Willig.

Summary: September 1896: As an aspiring archaeologist, Smith College graduate Betsy Hayes travels to Athens, desperate to break into a very male-dominated field and find work at some of the world’s most famous excavation sites. In the midst of the heat and dust of Greece she finds an unlikely ally in philanthropist Charles, Baron de Robecourt, one of the few men who takes her academic passion seriously. But when a simmering conflict between Greece and Turkey erupts into open warfare, Betsy’s archaeological sites become battlefields and she falls into the grim and heroic task of nursing the wounded. As the world around her is irrevocably changed, Betsy finds her heart pulled in multiple directions. June 1898: As the Spanish-American war begins, an older and wiser Betsy Hayes is searching for her former best friend Ava, who she last saw in Greece during the Greco-Turkish War. She believes that Ava might be with the Red Cross headed to Cuba, so Betsy herself joins the Red Cross and follows Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders straight to the heart of the fighting. As she enters the war zone, dark memories of her last war resurface and her need to protect old and new friends intensifies.”

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Fiction; Settings: Era/s: Historical – late 1890s; Location/s: various locations in Greece and Cuba; Other Categories: Novel, Biographical, Women, Wars – Greco-Turkish & Spanish American, Romance.

Two Wars and a Wedding

Well, finally a women’s, biographical, historical fiction novel which takes place during two wars, neither of which were worldwide ones! To be honest, I asked for this book because of the author and not because of the subject matter. Since becoming a long-time fan of “Team W” (Beatriz Williams, Karen White, and Lauren Willig), I’ve made a point of reading their solo novels. That this one fell so nicely into my favorite genres was a bonus. Now, I was almost in despair that I wouldn’t get approval for this book, and when it came through, I realized that it had the same release date as another book I was already reading. (I’m not sure why publishers have favorite release dates, but it really seems like they do. Either that, or they purposely time books to release on the same date that would be competition for their competitors.) So, I apologize for the lateness of this review. With that out of the way…

You should know that Betsy wasn’t a real person, but is actually a composite of two people. This is detailed in the author’s notes at the end, which were very enlightening and informative. What Willig has done here is paint a portrait of a woman who, on the face of it, isn’t totally likeable. She’s privileged and wealthy, and she knows how to use that privilege to take shortcuts to get what she wants. She’s also a bit full of herself, knowing how exactly smart she is, which gets her into trouble when trying to be the woman that men will take seriously, despite her gender. That means, for the era, she was way too pushy and instead of respect, she garners distain and contempt. No doubt had Betsy been alive today, she might have been reviled as well, but at least she’d be with many more women fighting for the equality they were promised in theory, yet in many ways, are still denied in practice.

Because of this, we actually do like Betsy, and grow to admire her ability to find some kind of efficiency and practical skills, despite not really knowing what she was supposed to do when she got started. If you ask me, that kind of seat-of-your-pants attitude that leads to success is a leadership quality you can’t learn. We also appreciate Betsy’s wit, and her total focus on her purpose, without any vanity regarding her looks. All this means she’s self-aware to a point, but while she knows her professional worth, she still has some self-doubt, and yet doesn’t realize she’s also attractive to men. So, when romance comes her way, she’s more wary than eager, which also means she doesn’t want her life to be that of only a wife and mother. Betsy is pretty much a modern woman by today’s standards, and she has the stubbornness to believe she can have her cake and eat it too!

I should add that Willig’s secondary character, the journalist-cum-nurse Kit (also based on a real person) became another favorite character here, who stole a couple scenes from Betsy, but in a good way. (I wonder if Willig would consider a novel just about Kit … hm? I’d read it!) In any case, I think you can tell that I really enjoyed this story, and getting to know Betsy, despite some of the more stomach-churning descriptions of trying to save lives, in horrific conditions, during two very badly managed wars, where most of the odds – and especially the men – were against them. That’s why I think it deserves to be very warmly recommended with a rating of 4.75 stars out of five!


30483411-0-Edelweiss-Reviewer-BWilliam Morrow – Harper Collins released “Two Wars and a Wedding” by Lauren Willig on March 21, 2023 in the US (but will only be released on May 25th in the UK). This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell‘s, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks),, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via Edelweiss.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#11), Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (#9), What’s In A Name (#4 – Category – Celebration).


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7 thoughts on “Angel of the Seneca.

  1. I read a lot of Willig’s early books but havent read one for a while. This sounds like it will be a good one to look out for.

    Thank you for sharing your review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that it’s great to see a war-based historical novel that isn’t about one of the world wars, a nice change. And I love a good after word that explains all the history and what was based on reality in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They write wonderfully together, and each subsequent book is better than the last. Mind you, of the three, White writes books that don’t draw me in so much, but Willig does, and Williams is a brilliant writer!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I recently read The Last Night in London by Karen White which featured Precious Dubose who was also in All The Ways We Said Goodbye. I really enjoyed that one. I haven’t actually read a solo one from Willig yet but agree that Beatriz Williams is excellent!

        Liked by 1 person

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