Return to Me

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
380 Pages
Reviewed on 11/17/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Carolyn Menke is the author of RETURN TO ME, published by The Wild Rose Press in September 2015 and I’M YOURS, the companion novella that releases in December 2015. RETURN TO ME, set during the 1940s, follows Sadie, as she uncovers pieces of her mother’s past. I’M YOURS, set during the Roaring Twenties, follows Audrey, Sadie’s mother, as a young starlet destined for Broadway.

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Carolyn is a professional blogger, creative writing teacher, and award-winning flash fiction writer. She enjoys horseback riding and geocaching with her three daughters, husband, and goldendoodle.

Carolyn was awarded the Golden Quill Award, Civic Journalism for “GenExodus,” which aired on WDUQ 90.5 National Public Radio. She is a member of the National Honor Society in Journalism and Mass Communication, Kappa Tau Alpha.

Carolyn loves speaking with children at schools, and to book clubs. She is a member of Pennwriters and two writing critique groups. For more information, please visit her website at:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite

Return to Me by Carolyn Menke is a historical romance taking place in America during World War II. On the way to basic training, James Pasko has an encounter that will forever change his life. Sadie Stark never expected to see the young boy who found her hiding on the train ever again, but when he shows up to return her purse, a romance is instantly rekindled. Sadie breaks off her relationship with her fiancé and actively pursues one with James, he just as keen as her, even helping her track down her long lost mother. However, when James is shipped out and then reported missing behind enemy lines, will Sadie be able to cope with the unexpected challenges that are staring her in the face?

Return to Me by Carolyn Menke takes us on a journey of how far a person is willing to go for love in the time of war. I loved the love at first sight theme between James and Sadie, and I also liked how she was willing to stand up to her family to protect their relationship. This certainly wasn’t the norm at the time for well-off young ladies, but I admired Sadie’s gumption. The underlying story about Sadie’s mom was nicely mimicked by Sadie’s own situation, and it was interesting to read how she overcame all the obstacles put in her way. Return to Me is certainly one of those novels you want to curl up with on a rainy day, hoping everything works out for Sadie and James.


From the first page of Return to Me, I knew this book would move me to tears and stay with me. The language is authentic and the dialogue is real - I felt like I was back in the forties, alongside Sadie, as her world tumbled down around her. Carolyn Menke alternates point of view between Sadie on the home front and James in combat, with clever plot twists along the way that kept me guessing until the very end. As a mom to three boys, I loved how this was a story about lost love and a lost child, and the two plot arcs converge brilliantly. I can't wait for her next novel about Sadie's mom to come out!

Lori Jones

Carolyn Menke's debut novel does not disappoint! Full of emotional depth and poignant prose, this beautifully written historical romance will stay with you well after the final page. Although you'll be happily transported into the 1940s, this tale is classic and timeless. You'll root for Sadie through every twist and turn and feel her every heartbreak! I am anxious to read Menke's soon-to-be released companion novella, I'm Yours, next! Keep watching this talent author!


Menke's novel is a beautiful story with strong characters that leap right off the page and into your heart. Her writing is rich with details of the 1940s and the issues women faced as their greatest loves were shipped off to war, and the emotional aftermath they leave behind. This love story will leave you in tears, but in my opinion, most of the good ones do. I look forward to reading more of Menke's work in the future! I really enjoyed this very much.

Amazon customer

Return To Me is a study of war-time love and loss, told from both a female and male perspective. I like that. The author wrote the combat scenes and poker scenes so well I felt like I was in the crashing bomber or on the flight deck right alongside her character. I also think the author did an excellent job highlighting the plight of young women and men, on the home front as well as in combat, during and after the war. It was a lot to tackle, and she excelled. The mention of the black crackle lighter was a nice touch. I bought my best man and groomsmen Zippo knives as gifts for being in my wedding, but I didn’t know about the Zippo black crackle lighter from the 1940s until I began reading Return To Me. I really admire the way the author incorporated this and other items from that period in her plot, which kept me guessing until the end. I’m looking forward to her next book.

A. Coleman

What a great book!! I loved the historical details throughout the book, giving you a glimpse into life during the WWII era. Carolyn Menke paints vivid scenes throughout the book, you feel like your are right there with Sadie and James. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but I loved watching the characters and their relationships develop throughout the story.


I love nothing more than a good love story. Some of my favorite movies were books turned to movies. I especially love the cliff hanger opening, you know what I am talking about when that opening scene is the current day and then they leave you hanging. Suddenly you are whisked back in time to their story, all while you wonder who were these people you just met. Carolyn Menke does just that to us in Return to Me. She opens in 1972, you meet two characters, you wonder why one of them is there and then you're back in 1942.
I don't want to give too much away about the book, but there is a bit of a love triangle. I found myself constantly battling with the Sadie on which way should she go. Should she fight for what she knows is love or should she marry the other because it is the smart choice and what her family wants. Will either be the right decision? Will either last? Is her love coming into her life fate's way of showing her the right choice?
Just as she makes her decision the worst happens, it is 1942 of course and off to war someone goes. Twists are thrown in Sadie's family and even her own life. While we are waiting to find out if the one fighting in the war makes it home in time Sadie is left to make the decision of a lifetime. The decision her mother had to make years before. Will she follow in her mother's footsteps or will she carve her own path and decide on a different route?

I loved the book and couldn't put it down. Every time I went to put it down it was like watching a television show and having to wait for next week to find out what is going to happen. It was an amazing love story with a great twist of a different kind of love.


This book is simply beautiful in so many ways: the prose, the emotions, the relationships, the sentiments, the over-arching story. Carolyn Menke oozes talent and I found myself lost in her story, only surfacing to get more tissues for the final chapters. Even after I turned the last page, my mind dwelled on how I wished this story was more than fiction. It feels too authentic and raw not to be real. I'm eager to read the forthcoming novella about Sadie's mother, and anything else published by this author (may there be many more stories to come).

N.J. Hammer

Return to Me is a beautifully written love story that will touch the heart of anyone who has ever struggled against tradition and defied the custom of the times. Carolyn Menke’s writing is like listening to a beloved old song full of soothing rhythms with hard chords thrown in to give the melody dimension. The staring characters in Return to Me display the strength and tenacity that make them excellent representations of what has come to be called the greatest generation. Very well done, Carolyn. Looking forward to reading more novels by this author.

Dana Faletti

Menke's writing is lovely, and Return To Me is a page turner. Readers of historical fiction will love the language, the fashion, and the feel of the forties. Romance readers will fall in love with the hero. Sadie's story took me on a journey that had me crying at her defeats and cheering at her triumphs. The end is both believable and satisfying with a bit of a twist! I love this book and would recommend it to women's book clubs and to anyone who enjoys well-written women's fiction. Wonderful novel!