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5++ stars for Outcast Artist in Bretagne – WWII heartbreak and Forbidden love #historicalfiction

Title: Outcast Artist in Bretagne – WWII heartbreak and Forbidden love

Author: Diane Scott Lewis

Genre: Historical Fiction with romantic elements, Romantic Fiction

Book Blurb:

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?

My Review:

Outcast Artist in Bretagne is a powerful, multi-facet story of love, hate, war, compassion, and courage. It’s a love story, true, but it’s one set against the turbulent era of German-occupied France.

The year is 1940, and British citizen Norah Cooper finds herself trapped in France, a guest of her cousin and her husband. Not trusted by either the French or the Germans and carrying a past considered shameful at the time, Norah can’t deny her attraction to Commandant August von Gottlieb.

The forbidden love story is only part of the saga, as Lewis immerses us into the early years of World War II where the Americans have yet to get involved. Their love, complicated enough, becomes wrapped inextricably with the war when each keeps their own secrets of their clandestine activities—activities which could get them killed.

Lewis doesn’t just tell us about the conditions of the occupation, she paints a vivid narrative of the harsh lives the French lived under German rule. From the daily fear to the scarcity of food, to the mistrust citizens had for one another, this story gives the reader the privilege of eavesdropping on history.

The major strength of this tale lies with the characters. We can’t but come to empathize with the townspeople—especially the children—living under austere economic and societal conditions. But we’re also given a realistic view of the German soldiers, who very often are portrayed as buffoons or cartoon characters. Here we see they have families, fears, doubts, and desires. The full tragedy of the war is fully unveiled.

Typically, we see the history of World War II through a series of black and white newsreels. Lewis splashes shades of color on the time period and reveals a richer, more vibrant era.

Lewis has written a historical romance guaranteed to give you a book hangover unlike any other. My advice? Ignore your TBR pile and read Outcast Artist in Bretagne while you’re on the beach this month. You can thank me later.

My Rating: 5++ stars

Buy it Now:

Author Biography:

Diane Parkinson (who writes as Diane Scott Lewis) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, joined the Navy at nineteen and has written and edited free-lance since high school. She married in Greece and raised two sons in Puerto Rico, California, Guam and Virginia. She wrote book reviews for the Historical Novels Review and has worked as an on-line book editor. Diane served as president of the Riverside Writers in 2007-2008. She has twelve published novels. One is part of the Canadian Historical Brides series, set in 18thc. New Brunswick. She has a novel set during the American Revolution and the Potomac Oyster Wars. Her most recent is a WWII romantic suspense. She lives with her husband and dachshund in western Pennsylvania.

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Reviewed by: Terry

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