Welcome, Diane Scott Lewis!
With the proliferation of WWII novels, I had the urge to write a story of forbidden love. An Englishwoman stranded in France under the occupation, her past dealings with relationships a disaster. And a German Commandant who loathes Hitler’s policies, a recent widower who is caught by surprise at his attraction to the young woman. How do they work out their differences? Can they find love in the middle of war? Norah must face the retribution of the villagers. August must find a way to ruin a dangerous weapon to undermine the Reich.
I’ve always loved writing and putting my characters in difficult situations. This one was a challenge. How to make a German officer a sympathetic character. According to my critique partners, I’ve succeeded. But can they have a happy ending?
To make my story in Brittany, France realistic, I recommend this book.
Hitler’s Gateway to the Atlantic, by Lars Hellwinkell, 2014
I also took a virtual tour of a German submarine.
It’s a good thing I enjoy research.
Buy link: https://books2read.com/Outcast-Artist-in-Bretagne
Unwed and pregnant, Norah Cooper flees England to hide with her cousin in Brittany just before Germany’s 1940 invasion of France. After her baby is stillborn, she’s trapped under the Occupation as war expands across Europe. Norah grieves and consoles herself by sketching wildlife. When she’s caught too near the coast, she comes under scrutiny of the German commandant, Major August von Gottlieb.
August loathes what Hitler is doing to his country and France but is duty-bound to control the people in his jurisdiction. The lively young Englishwoman piques his interest. Is she a spy? He questions her and asks her to sketch his portrait so he might uncover the truth.
Soon, their relationship evolves into a passion neither of them can deny. She endures taunts from the villagers. His superiors warn him of not being harsh enough—he could be transferred or worse. He plans to sabotage a major war machine of the Reich, while she secretly helps the Resistance. Both acts are fraught with danger while kept secret from one another. Will their love ruin her and end in heartbreak? Or will they overcome the odds and survive the surging threats on all sides?
Norah balled her hands, tears welling in her eyes. “I see the reasoning, the rules of war. But I have all this anger and sorrow I don’t know what to do with.”
August clasped her upper arms as if to keep her from running off. “I understand your misery. However, it was my responsibility.”
“Why did it have to happen?” She pressed a fist against his chest. “I know, that’s rhetorical. But I’m—”
“I wish it hadn’t. I really do, though the outcome was inevitable given the sentry’s death. And if Kerguelen hadn’t bragged about the shooting.” August kissed her forehead. “Ma cherie, please understand.”
“I can’t forgive what this war has done to us all.” She pushed at him with the heel of her hand, but not overly hard.
“This war has torn apart the world. We are in a storm, trying to be normal.” He traced a finger under her chin. “I missed you.”
“I…missed you.” She thumped her knuckles on his collarbone. “Dammit. My instincts are a mess. And I’m caught between two worlds.”
“You’re in an untenable position. Don’t let this tragedy change what we have.” He rubbed his thumb over her cheek and opened the summerhouse’s back door. “Let’s go inside.”
“Everyone… The villagers, my cousins. I’m condemned, marked as your woman.”
Diane Parkinson (Diane Scott Lewis) grew up near San Francisco, joined the Navy at nineteen, married in Greece and raised two sons in Puerto Rico, California, and Guam. She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society and wrote book reviews for their magazine. She’s always loved travel and history and has had several historical novels published.
Diane lives with her husband and one naughty dachshund in western Pennsylvania.
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