Diane Scott Lewis joins me today to talk about her newest release, OUTCAST ARTIST IN BRETAGNE, which came out on May 1, 2023. In this World War Two romance, a man and woman from opposing sides of the war fall in love. But love in a time of war is fraught with danger, especially for enemies. Sounds like an exciting story! Thanks for visiting, Diane!
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 is approached by the commandant at the open market:
Norah stuck the package in her basket, wanting to move away. “It’s because you…the Germans buy up most of the food before we have a chance.” She sighed inside. There was her wayward tongue again.
“Ah, I see.” He scanned the scattering of booths again. Then smiled at her. “Hungry soldiers are a problem. I wonder what can be done.”
The Major’s half-smile sent a flutter through her belly—so wrong! What was the matter with her? She stepped to the side. Would he do something about the food?
“How is your young cousin after his unfortunate experience yesterday?” He walked beside her, and she forced herself not to be rude. Tall for a woman, Norah’s five-foot seven-inch height barely cleared his shoulder.
Several women stared and whispered.
“Jean is fine, thank you again.” She was careful not to gush. She didn’t dare take the children back to the church. Her cousin had been distraught over what happened with Jean.
The Commandant bowed his head. “It was only fair, Fräulein Cooper. I’m a reasonable man.”
His caring about fairness surprised her.
“If you’ll excuse me, I need to take this fish to my cousin.” She moved in that direction.
“I can see you’re anxious not to be seen with the enemy.” The Major put his hands behind his back, his smile wry. “Since you’re English, are you registered as an enemy alien?”
Her stomach plunged. “I suppose I should, but we’re so far removed.” She’d tried to blend in with her French cousins and hated to call attention to herself. Would he demand that she comply?
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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