A heart-wrenching story of two lovers, torn apart by war, and their boundless journey back to one another

How long would you wait to reunite with the love of your life?

JACKSON, Miss. – Lovers spend decades hoping to reunite in Alfred Nicols’ debut novel, “Lost Love’s Return” (June 8, 2021, Books Fluent). A historical romance entwined with military and Southern elements tempts readers to hold out hope for a lost love in the midst of unparalleled tragedy.

When Elizabeth, a young English nurse, falls in love with one of her American patients, her whole world changes. When Peter, the American soldier, is suddenly shipped home to the U.S. at the end of WWI, he does his best to alert Elizabeth to what’s happening but fails, leaving her with no idea where he is and no way to contact him — now oceans away.

For 27 years, Peter yearns for Elizabeth, regretting the actions that led him into a long-drawn-out loveless marriage. But now, with the help of his son, he locates the only woman he’s ever loved. The question is, will she give him a second chance?

“Lost Love’s Return”
Alfred Nicols | June 8, 2021 |
Books Fluent | Historical Romance
Paperback | 978-1-953865-16-8 | $15.99
Ebook | 978-1-953865-17-5 | $9.99
Hardcover | 978-1-953865-28-1 | $21.99

ALFRED NICOLS received undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Mississippi. Following military service, he had a career as a lawyer, a state trial judge, and a federal judge. He and his wife, Mary, live on rural acreage in Mississippi.

“Lost Love’s Return” was written as an effort to leave his children and grandchildren, perhaps others, insight into issues in life and the value of family ties, even to imperfect people.

In an interview, Alfred Nicols can discuss:

  • Crafting a novel that combines aspects of historical fiction, military fiction, romance and southern literature
  • His personal journey from busy lawyer to judge to artist and finally author
  • His experience in the military and how it influenced writing the book
  • The extensive southern cultural and historical research he conducted to help write the book
  • How his love for his family inspired him to write this particular story for them and the messages he hopes they and readers will take from it

An interview with Alfred Nicols

1. You’ve had successful careers in both law and art, so what inspired you to turn to writing?

I have written in some form for most of my life. In high school, I wrote a poem that won a national award and several other writing contests. As an undergraduate in college, I always excelled in the courses that required long narrative answers, courses in history and literature for instance. In law school, I wrote for the law journal. As a lawyer, in every group I practiced with, I was usually the one called upon to write the briefs on the most important case in the office. As a judge, I wrote extensively, not just opinions, but creative things. For instance, I was asked by the state bar to help write a jury orientation video, with me as the judge actor, which has been in use statewide for over 30 years.

But I always wanted to write creative fiction. I have started more novels than I own pairs of footwear, my first one almost 60 years ago when I was in Korea on active duty with the Army. Something always intervened and I never finished one. I was a young lawyer trying to get established, working 70-80 hours a week; I was a father with young children who had scout projects, sports events to attend. Then I started painting southern landscapes. It wasn’t long before my paintings were selling, and I soon had more demand for my paintings than I could fill. Requests came for one-man shows, needing 50 or more original paintings, two years or more of work with a full-time day job.

Finally, about six years ago, a close friend, who had pushed me for decades to write creative fiction, got on a hard sell and wouldn’t let up until I agreed to try. There was no turning back. He would push me for the next chapter to review and edit. I challenged myself to see that he got it. Once he had invested his time in the project, I felt some obligation to complete it.

2. How has your own military experience helped you with writing those aspects of the book?

Through an advanced ROTC program in college, I was commissioned an officer in the Army, with a two-year commitment to active-duty military service. Part of the program was six weeks of basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia. With this training, I got to experience crawling beneath barbed wire under simulated live fire, the deafening sounds of artillery fire, being put in a chamber full of tear gas (where I better have my face mask right) and whatever else the Army could come up with to acclimate the trainee to the battlefield environment. I got orders to Vietnam with my unit in the middle of the conflict in 1966 but was pulled from the unit at the last minute because of a serious kidney problem. Reassigned to Korea, my kidney was operated on, and I spent time in a Quonset Hut military ward somewhat like the one my character Peter Montgomery was in. I’m sure these experiences gave me perspective on the battlefield and military hospital aspects of the novel.

3. You’ve said you wrote this novel to pass down to your sons and grandchildren. Can you explain?

With a long and blessed life, in my law office, in the courtroom, in social settings, family environments, I have experienced constant opportunity to observe humanity, in all its dimensions: love and hate; good and evil; faith and doubt; pain and pleasure; wealth and poverty; our potential for jealousy, selfishness, resentment and oppression, as well as all our potential for selflessness, concern, support and love. Approaching 80, I felt I had learned much about the choices we make in life and their consequences. Jesus taught us so well with his parables. Perhaps I could create a novel with a plot, characters and scenes that could pass what I’ve learned on to my children and grandchildren — and maybe even to others — to read when they were old enough.

4. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing the book?

There were essentially four. The first was creating a plot, characters and scenes to fulfill my purposes and then weaving them together in a compelling read. It was also important for me to write the dialogue in a way that the characters came alive on the page without at the same time making the reading hard.
There was also writing the three sex scenes that were necessary to carry the plot in a way that was graphic enough to bring home the messages I wanted to convey about that part of life — but no more so than necessary. And finally, doing all the tedious, time-consuming historical and cultural research necessary to write a novel covering two cultures, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and an almost three-decade time span. And, of course, the discipline and stamina it takes to write a 90,000-word novel — and hopefully do it well.

5. What do you hope readers gain from “Lost Love’s Return”?

Every scene in the novel was created from the inside out, so to speak. I had some lessons about life I wanted to convey. How can I create a scene with characters, plot and action to make that point? There are so many “life lessons” along the way, chapter by chapter. And I end the novel with a biggie: There is power in faith. Much of our achievement and happiness depends on faith: faith in ourselves; faith in others; faith that somehow our nation can overcome its problems; faith that the world can overcome climate change; faith that we can avoid nuclear disaster; and, perhaps, faith that there is a deity who can save us from our greatest fear of all — our mortality.