THE DEVIL’S OWN by Liana LeFey

June 15, 2021

THE DEVIL’S OWN by Liana LeFey. Entangled: Amara (June 14, 2021). ASIN: B0893QHX7F. 228 pages.




HIGHLAND HERO by Cynthia Breeding

June 14, 2021

HIGHLAND HERO by Cynthia Breeding. Entangled: Amara (June 14, 2021). ASIN : B094GSXWNF. 264 pages.





June 9, 2021

The After Dunkirk Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

The Battle of Dunkirk might be finished, but the war isn’t over.

The saga of the Littlefield family continues with this rich and evocative second installment in the AFTER DUNKIRK series.

The German Luftwaffe attacks Britain from the skies.
With no allies, she stands alone.
Her fate hangs in the balance.

As the first Axis aircraft streak across English Channel airspace, so begins a battle for the ages; one that will determine the trajectory of the war. Braced for engagement on their individual fronts, the Littlefields plumb the depths of courage and ingenuity to defend their beloved Britain.

Fresh from the slaughter of Dunkirk, youngest brother Jeremy is called upon to create a French Resistance network composed of former naval officers.

At MI-9 headquarters, Claire Littlefield has devised an intelligence coup that could change the tide of the war. But will it work?

Lance, captured and far from home, puts his resiliency and resolve to the test.

And frustrated at being sidelined from active combat, Paul is unaware that he is being groomed for a role beyond his imagination.

A sweeping story of war filled with intimate, day-to-day details of those closest to danger, EAGLES OVER BRITAIN is a captivating tale of bravery, sacrifice, and one family’s fight to bring Britain to victory.

Utilizing persona from the Littlefield family, a group that had lived and prospered on one of the Channel Islands belonging to Great Britain, the author has taken his readers full tilt into the opening events of World War II. The first novel in the series leads the family into the retreat from France culminating in the saving of thousands of lives by many small boats picking up soldiers from Dunkirk and taking them across the English Channel to safety. In the current novel the events of the Battle of Britain are described and shown why it led to the famous declaration by than Prime Minister Churchill, “Never has so much been owed by so many to so few.”     

The Littlefield family, both men and women, are all taking part in activities designed to fight the invaders coming to France, England and the Channel Islands as part of Hitler’s plans to become the leading power in Europe. Jackson brings the group into the defensive action against the Luftwaffe’s attacks on England. His research showcases groups of pilots that overcome shear exhaustion day after day to take off and repel the bombing runs of the German air force. Men that took off ,fought the invaders and if surviving returned to base, handed over often shot up planes to maintenance crews and then staggered into bed until the next sortie.      

The power of the book is in its concentration on the courage of a nation that wouldn’t give up and stood up against the Nazi design to invade England once their air force had destroyed English air power. People heard alarms, ran to shelters. Upon ending the attack they came out and pitched in with the first responders to help those that were hurt and somehow comfort those people losing loved ones to the enemy bombs.     

Love still finds a way and the book ends with members of the family forming attachments which we know will follow up into the next planned novel of the series. The ending also sets up the following book which will be positively received and enjoyed by faithful readers.

6/2021 Paul Lane

EAGLES OVER BRITAIN by Lee Jackson. Severn River Publishing (April 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-1648750717. 456 pages.



CHINA by Edward Rutherfurd

May 31, 2021

From the publisher:

The internationally bestselling author of Paris and New York takes on an exhilarating new world with his trademark epic style in China: The Novel

Edward Rutherfurd has enthralled millions of readers with his grand, sweeping historical sagas that tell the history of a famous place over multiple generations. Now, in China: The Novel, Rutherfurd takes readers into the rich and fascinating milieu of the Middle Kingdom.

The story begins in 1839, at the dawn of the First Opium War, and follows Chinese history through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and up to the present day. Rutherfurd chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of members of Chinese, British, and American families, as they negotiate the tides of history. Along the way, in his signature style, Rutherfurd provides a deeply researched portrait of Chinese history and society, its ancient traditions and great upheavals, and China’s emergence as a rising global power. As always, we are treated to romance and adventure, heroines and scoundrels, grinding struggle and incredible fortunes.    

China: The Novel brings to life the rich terrain of this vast and constantly evolving country. From Shanghai to Nanking to the Great Wall, Rutherfurd chronicles the turbulent rise and fall of empires as the colonial West meets the opulent and complex East in a dramatic struggle between cultures and people.

Extraordinarily researched and majestically told, Edward Rutherfurd paints a thrilling portrait of one of the most singular and remarkable countries in the world.

This novel is a well researched venture into the period of about 1830 until the Boxer Revolution of 1900 in China. The author chooses several different families and individuals to frame his story on. These are characters that experience what was the Chinese culture during the time of their lives. Overall Rutherfurd utilizes the character of Cixi, the dowager empress, as the individual influencing events in the country both during her own lifetime and attempting to continue to do so after her death.       

The story opens with what were the Opium wars of the early 1800s in which England carried on a lucrative trade of selling opium to China and buying tea from them. The Chinese realizing that they were getting generations of dope addicts as the price being paid to allow England to actually pay for tea attempted to keep the British from bringing the narcotic into their home ports. With fortunes riding on continuing the opium sales battles were fought between the modern weapons of the English and easily defeated Chinese troops.   

Rutherfurd aptly shows a country with a rich history going back almost 5000 years with a population of a rich and also a destitute poor class. The path to wealth is mainly through entrance into some level of the ruling class and only minor possibilities through opening a successful business. One of the leading individuals is a man that faced with feeding his family decides to embark upon a path that would be impossible to conceive of by most men. He elects to become a eunuch in order to obtain work at the emperor’s palace where that condition is mandatory to hold a position. He consults his wife and his father getting their approval and goes ahead with the change. By a lucky occurrence he obtains the job of doing the nails of Cixi than the emperor’s concubine pleases her and continues on. He is dubbed “Lacquer Nail” the name that sticks with him permanently and is in a position to follow Cixi as she marries the emperor and in time assumes the role of dowager empress.   

In 1900 a rebellion breaks out looking to stop the many groups of foreigners from continuing to bleed the country. The initiators of the insurrection are known as Boxers due to their interest in the martial arts. The foreigners centered in the city of Peking group together for mutual defense in the British legation using small groups of soldiers from the countries residing in China to defend them. Word is sent to a combined army of troops sent to restore the safety of the people working in China as part of their legations to come to their rescue. The section of the novel dealing with the rebellion and the subsequent arrival of the rescue force is a very well done portrait of people facing a situation that they are not attuned to contending with.       

The book is a long one, but Rutherfurd’s ability to create a story and the people involved in it makes for one excellent read and a commanding portrait of a civilization not like that of most of the western world.

5/2021 Paul Lane

CHINA by Edward Rutherfurd. Doubleday (May 11, 2021). ISBN: 978-0385538930. 784 pages.








May 24, 2021

From the publisher:

From the author of the #1 bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a new historical novel inspired by one family’s incredible story of daring, survival, and triumph.

In late March 1944, as Stalin’s forces push into Ukraine, young Emil and Adeline Martel must make a terrible decision: Do they wait for the Soviet bear’s intrusion and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluctantly follow the wolves—murderous Nazi officers who have pledged to protect “pure-blood” Germans?

The Martels are one of many families of German heritage whose ancestors have farmed in Ukraine for more than a century. But after already living under Stalin’s horrifying regime, Emil and Adeline decide they must run in retreat from their land with the wolves they despise to escape the Soviets and go in search of freedom.

Caught between two warring forces and overcoming horrific trials to pursue their hope of immigrating to the West, the Martels’ story is a brutal, complex, and ultimately triumphant tale that illuminates the extraordinary power of love, faith, and one family’s incredible will to survive and see their dreams realized.

In an afterward to this book, Mark Sullivan indicates that it is an account of the vicissitudes of a real family living through one the most horrific periods to ever have faced human beings. The novel is more than a compelling read; it is an adventure into emotion that crosses between hope and despair bringing to life the resiliency of an extraordinary family. 

The Martels are people with roots in Germany that have emigrated into the Ukraine in order to enjoy a better life. Making a life there the transplanted colony suddenly becomes caught up in war when Germany invades Russia during World War II.       

The slaughter of both the Russian and German armies at the battle for Stalingrad causes the Germanic residents of the Ukraine to flee the Russian army which goes after the Wehrmacht in order to destroy them. The Germans tell the transplants to pack up and leave with them to try and make it back to Germany before Stalin, the Russian leader moves his army to slaughter them. The Wehrmacht offers protection and food during the escape. Emil and Adeline Martel and their two sons are among the group leaving their home to escape with their lives.  It is their story that Mark Sullivan celebrates. The fleeing group are subjected to being caught up with the running battles of both armies. They narrowly escape being killed by tanks of both armies fighting each other and not looking to see if civilians are in the way of their shells.     

The Martels are strengthened by a vision they hold of coming at last to live in a beautiful Green valley where they can enjoy peace and the tranquility of life together and with their family. The events of their travel could normally crush the spirit of anyone but in a memorable accounting of what befalls them Mark Sullivan does an excellent job of painting a picture of the triumph of the human spirit. The reader will not be able to lay down the book until finished and know that they have read a superb story and an extremely well told one that will stay with them for a long time.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE LAST GREEN VALLEY by Mark Sullivan. Lake Union Publishing (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-1503958746. 457 pages.







BASIL’S WAR by Stephen Hunter

May 22, 2021

A WWII Spy Thriller

From the publisher:

A British spy goes behind enemy lines to crack a secret code in this “highly entertaining World War II espionage thriller” (Seattle Times).

Basil St. Florian is an accomplished agent in the British Army, tasked with dozens of dangerous missions for crown and country across the globe. But his current mission, going undercover in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, might be his toughest assignment yet. He will be searching for an ecclesiastic manuscript that doesn’t officially exist, one that genius professor Alan Turing believes may hold the key to a code that could prevent the death of millions and possibly even end the war.

St. Florian isn’t the classic British special agent with a stiff upper lip―he is a swashbuckling, whisky-drinking cynic and thrill-seeker who resents having to leave Vivien Leigh’s bed to set out on his crucial mission. Despite these proclivities, though, Basil’s Army superiors know he’s the best man for the job, carrying out his espionage with enough charm and quick wit to make any of his subjects lower their guards.

Action-packed and bursting with WWII-era intrigue (much of which has basis in fact), Basil’s War is a classic espionage thriller from Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, essayist, and bestselling novelist Stephen Hunter.

Stephen Hunter is a successful author with a longtime background in the literary world. His main thrust are books involving the military art of sniping. He is gifted with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of weaponry which he has used to bring his novels several steps above other books about sniping and snipers. 

This current book is a change in focus and involves the exploits of Basil St Florian in action as a spy during World War II. Basil is in the language of another day a “rake” for his many encounters with women. He is bold, daring and has a great sense of humor. He has traveled several times from his home in England into France, a country conquered by the Nazi war machine and an area that might be used as a springboard for action against Britian. He has successfully completed several missions and we meet him as he begins another.     

In certain situations books are used as keys for secret codes. That is the message to be sent is tied to a mutually known book and the words are represented by location designations used by both parties. The difficulty level is very high since the same book must be used by both senders and receivers in order to decode the message. In his latest mission Basil must travel into enemy territory find a scroll written several hundred years ago, photograph certain portions and bring these photos back in order to be used to convince Russian dictator Joseph Stalin to shift a military position in order to avoid a massacre of his soldiers.     

In the course of the mission Basil meets Alan Turing, a man that led a group of mathematicians in discovering the key to the Nazi codes used in their transmission of orders. Turing and his group actually lived and worked on breaking codes during WWII. While the codes sought by Basil are not fact, the touch of adding Turing to the plot is a good one and helps validate the action.     

The almost blasé approach Hunter takes brings down the quality of the action described and I felt leaves the reader with a “hey what happened” feeling. If it is a book by Stephen Hunter I would pick up his next novel, but possibly return to awaiting others featuring the sniping format if Basil does not pick up the pace.

5/2021 Paul Lane

BASIL’S WAR by Stephen Hunter. Mysterious Press (May 4, 2021). ISBN: 978-1613162248. 288 pages.








May 16, 2021

From the publisher:

During World War II, an American soldier encounters a German woman living a secret life in bomb-blighted London.

In September of 1940, during the Blitz in London, Audrey Stocking is blending in with other civilians who are trying to survive the nightly bombings, but she has a secret. She’s not British; she’s German. Her fake passport and nearly perfect English allow her to blend in as she works hard to help evacuate British children into the countryside.

Audrey longs to reunite with her family in Hamburg, but her double life, the bombings, and the watchful British Military Intelligence have forced her to stay put. And then there are the paralyzing nightmares . . .

Lieutenant Wesley Bowers, an American soldier training with London’s Bomb Disposal Company 5, meets Audrey when an air raid leaves an unexploded bomb on the floor of her flat. She is attractive, intelligent, and compassionate, and there’s an immediate connection between them.

As they get to know each other, Wesley realizes Audrey is the one bright spot amid the war’s unending bleakness and constant threat of death. But will he still feel the same if he discovers the secrets she is hiding? Secrets even Audrey is unaware of?

In Times of Rain and War is a gripping and heartbreakingly beautiful story about the strength and resilience of the human heart and spirit, reminding us there is always hope in hard times.

This novel is a beautifully written story of love and war. Like most stories about war, it is a treatise of anti-war dialogue but does go quite a bit beyond that. 

Lt. Wesley Bowers is an American that journeys to England in 1940, prior to the U.S. entering WWII. He joins a bomb disposal unit working in London and quickly learns that life expectancy for men that do the kind of work that he gets involved in is very low; that the average for these people is 10 weeks. He also joins the BDU (Bomb Disposal Unit) at a point that the Blitz has begun targeting London as the main point of the German air force’s raids.

Wes struggles to survive the horror he is involved in at the same time that he finds that the men attached to his unit have become like family to him with the obvious commonality of facing death on a constant basis due to the work they do.     

Audrey Stocking is a young girl that has entered England illegally sent out from her home in Germany by her father who has arranged for her to flee what he felt was the coming horror of the Nazi party. The family was Jewish with all the downside that would create for them. 

Audrey traveled to Switzerland with her aunt and from there the two women traveled to England. In order to make a living both work for a group that specializes in transporting children from London to temporary homes in the north of England which are beyond the war zone. Audrey’s problem beyond the basic one of being in the county illegally is that she suffers from flashbacks and nightmares that she cannot come to grips with.     

Wes has a fiancée in the US, but when he and Audrey meet it generates a mutual attraction that quickly gives way to love. The story of a love that helps both people transcend the daily horror they live in is an extremely well done narrative with results that leave the reader with an emotional feeling not often encountered in a novel. Certainly instilling a desire to read future books by Wright and follow through on that.

5/2021 Paul Lane

IN TIMES OF RAIN AND WAR by Camron Wright. Shadow Mountain (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-1629728544. 312 pages.







THE HEIRESS HUNT by Joanna Shupe

May 12, 2021

THE HEIRESS HUNT by Joanna Shupe. Avon (March 9, 2021). ISBN 978-0063045040. 400 pages.






LEVI’S WAR by Julie Thomas

May 11, 2021

From the publisher:

A story of courage and bravery from a Jew behind enemy lines during the Second World War.

How many secrets can one family hold?

Levi Horowitz isn’t a natural-born soldier. But in November 1938, Berlin is a volatile place for a Jew, and the talented young musician secures passage to Switzerland. Instead, Levi is taken to a Danish border checkpoint and from then on his war becomes secret, even from those he loves best.

In 2017, a recording emerges, showing Levi in 1945 and revealing a story in equal parts shocking and heroic. It is a journey that leads him face-to-face with Hitler, and into a position to change the final outcome of the war.

Levi’s War follows on from the enthralling historical novels The Keeper of Secrets and Rachel’s Legacy, this time tracing the story of the eldest Horowitz son. Whether you’re discovering Julie Thomas’s books for the first time, or making a return visit to the saga of the Horowitz family, Levi’s War will leave you utterly breathless.

This is the third and final novel in the author’s planned trilogy about the Horowitz family and events they took part in during World War II.  I have not read the first two books so that certain described situations mentioned in this book are not familiar to me. While it would have helped overall understanding I did not lose complete track of events and could keep up with the flow of this book. 

Levi is a Jewish boy born into a well to do banking family living in Berlin, Germany enjoying life until the horror of Adolf Hitler and his cronies seized power and turned the country into a police state looking to conquer the world. Levi’s father saw what was probably going to happen and sent Levi to live and work in England. He was supposed to establish a base in order to bring over all his family but fate threw him a curve and he began life as a spy thanks to the British government interceding with him, training him as a soldier, and sending him back into Germany to spy on Nazi activities for the allies. 

Levi returns and gets a position with a Nazi unit to both support himself and have access to information needed by his sponsors.  As a young man Levi had developed a love for and a talent for music playing at a concert hall level. This skill helps him in working at his spy craft gaining entrance to homes of the very well connected including the very top: – Hitler himself. Themes running through the novel are Levi’s having to apologize for his Jewishness and also to have to hide the fact that he is gay in a country which makes homosexuality a crime even to killing the person for showing a same sex love for another human being.     

While Thomas shows the amount of research she undertook to tell this story I fault her on jumping helter-skelter from topic and circumstance to something else. There were a few situations where the reader could very easily have lost continuity and interest making it very far from an all nighter. Levi’s constant fixing on his homosexuality is overdone and doesn’t at all help maintain the reader’s interest.

5/2021 Paul Lane

LEVI’S WAR by Julie Thomas. HarperCollins (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1460759622. 320 pages.







May 8, 2021

From the publisher:

At his beloved Nonno Paolo’s deathbed, fifteen-year-old Nico receives a gift that will change his life forever: a yellowing manuscript which tells the haunting, twisty tale of what really happened to his grandfather in Nazi-occupied Venice in 1943.

The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice’s Grand Canal. Awkward fifteen-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he passes, he has secrets he’s waited his whole life to share.

When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness . . .

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.

Italy entered World War II on the side of Germany, no doubt convinced by Mussolini, the Italian dictator that it would be best to ally themselves with Hitler. The love affair between the two did not last through the entire war and while remnants of the Italian army still served with German troops, Hitler sent an army of occupation to Italy to ensure that the country stayed loyal. 

Hewson’s book is set in the city of Venice during the Nazi occupation and does an exemplary job of depicting the horrors inflicted by the Germans on the civilian population. 

Nonno Paolo is a man that lived through the occupation and has kept his ordeals to himself for many years. The novel opens when Nonno is on his deathbed some fifty plus years after the end of the occupation. He calls his grandson to his side and indicates that he wants to communicate something that must remain between the two and not told to the boy’s father.   

Nicco, the grandson, is asked to read a series of manuscripts prepared by his grandfather. What is contained in these writings will be left to Nicco to interpret for himself although his grandfather would like to discuss them with him and get his ideas.     

The family was engaged in building a business involving the highly skilled weaving of fabrics centered in Venice when the Nazis began their occupation. Hitler’s policies of anti Jewish, Gypsy and Homo sexual groups is adopted by Mussolini and incorporated into a code similar to the Nurenberg laws existing in Germany. A conundrum is placed upon the family when they are asked to shelter a Jewish brother and sister that had been in the Italian resistance and ambushed a group of Germany troops. Sheltering such fugitives could mean death to the family caught sheltering them. When it was explained that the sheltering would be only a little while it was decided to go ahead and offer a short term haven for the two.     

In order to help out while there the brother decides to learn how to weave and aid on a project that would bring in some much needed revenue. Nonno and the brother become friends and close during the activity while the sister thinks only of action against the Nazis. Events taking place and the frights endured by all involved are carefully delineated and make for a uniquely rewarding story of another time and the circumstances peculiar to the period. The reader will find him or herself unable to put the book down and commiserating with the participants in the novel.  A very rewarding read culminating in an unexpected but logical ending.

5/2021 Paul Lane

THE GARDEN OF ANGELS by David Hewson. Severn House Publishers (April 6, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250257208. 304 pages.