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Her Darkest Hour

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Member Reviews

Another fabulous and heart wrenching read by Sharon Maas.  This book was such a good read and at times I found it tough going reading about the atrocities of. WW 2. It was such a descriptive book and I really enjoyed reading it.
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Her Darkest Hour is a heart-wrenching story about WW2 set in Colmar, France.
Two families who have always lived as neighbours, spend their lives as one family and are devastated when the Nazi’s invade their town and force all residents to change their names and live their lives as Germans.
This story shows how tragically the war affected these two families and the different roles they played to do whatever they could to fight the war in their own way.
I always love this authors writing style and characters, but of course in this particular book, it is not possible to like all characters such as the despicable and cruel Commander Dietrich Kurtz.
A great historical fiction which I can recommend.
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TRIGGER WARNING: this book is set during the second World War and contains upsetting details of Nazi atrocities
Alsace has been overrun by the Nazis and its occupants are being forced to adopt German names and forbidden to speak French. Her Darkest Hour is the tale of the war experiences of the Gaultier and Dolch families. Marie-Claire is employed by the mayor's office which is taken over by Nazi officials which has awful personal ramifications for her as the war continues. Jacques and Juliette join the resistance, whilst Margaux and Victoire assist Jews to hide and escape.
With the benefit of hindsight, and my History degree, the feelings of fear and dread for the main characters are there from the beginning. However, it is the second half of the book where, once we have developed an emotional attachment to the main characters, we learn of the horror inflicted by the Nazis on the Alsace community.
Marie-Claire is the main protagnonist. Beautiful, outwardly confident but actually desperate to be loved and belong. Her journey over the book's pages is the most life changing of all the characters. She is rejected by those she loves and, despite her selfishness, it is impossible not to feel sympathy for her predicament as her hope is destroyed.
Some parts of Her Darkest Hour are difficult to read as the actions of the Nazis are so grisly, made even more so by the basis in facts that the author Sharon Maas has researched. I think the title of the book relates to both Alsace's darkest hour as well as Marie-Claire's.
The ending is extremely abrupt and I was left hoping for a sequel to find out how the different members of the family rebuild their lives and fractured relationships. I would also like to see more of Juliette and Jacques' story as their timeline splits off and we see little of their experiences.
Her Darkest Hour is a brutally good book, with strong characters and an excellent historical basis.
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This is the story of a family that lived in Colmar during the German occupation. The story is told from a few different perspectives. The main perspectives the story is told from are the two sister's Marie-Claire, the eldest, beautiful sister and Victoire, the younger. At first, I hated Marie-Claire and her utter vanity, but as the story progresses you see her self-actualization and understand her plight more fully. Marie Claire's sister, Victoire is more level-headed and wants to help make a difference, but no one will allow her, because she's only 15. I loved how their relationship evolved through out the story. Along with the mother-daughter conflict between Marie-Claire and Margaux.

The only thing that I would say is that the first 80% of the book could have been shorter. I felt like the ending was a bit rushed.

I look forward to reading more of Sharon Mass's works!
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Marie-Claire is in love with Jacques, but he sees her as nothing but a friend as they have grown up together and are more like Brother and Sister. Jacques is a member of the French resistance, and as the Nazi's roll into the small town of Colmar, he is ready to fight.

Marie-Claire's younger Sister Victoire is determined to help those in the resistance and fight against the German occupation. When Marie-Claire goes back to work in her now occupied building under the command of Dietrich Kurtz, Victoire cannot pretend to be happy about it. But her sister speaks multiple languages and could be useful to the movement.

At first Marie-Claire is keen to help, believing that it will impress Jacques, but she soon understands that nothing she does will make any difference, so she decides to make the best of a bad situation and befriend some of the others girls in the office.

In doing so, she changes the course of her life forever. An unprecedented chain of events lead to her marrying her high ranking Nazi officer boss and moving away from her family and betraying her family, with her union to the enemy.

Marie-Claire's choice unfortunately wasn't so much of a choice, as she would lead her family to believe and she regrets her marriage before it even happens, but she is trapped, and can do nothing to escape without her family's help.

The question is, will they be able to come to her assistance when she needs them most?
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Another great book by Sharon Maas. The last book I read of hers was also during WWII in the same region of France.
This story takes place in Colmar, a small french town in the Alsace region of France, which has alternated between German and French control over the centuries and reflects a mix of those cultures. 
The story follows a family and close friends who grew up together on one of the vineyards in the area. The Germans have overtaken the town and the people are having to learn to adapt to the  new “normal” having to learn German, change their names to a German name, and if the were suspected of being Jewish, they were told they would be moved to a different location.
It is a story of family differences, sacrifices and love, loyalties and distrusts. Some involved in resistance work, one working for the Germans and being disowned by family, this story will keep you wondering what is going on, and wanting to know how it will turn out.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Bookouture for a copy of this book.
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This was such a beautiful, moving and heartbreaking story.  Set in World War II, as the Germans have taken over Alsace, the locals have to get used to their new German way of life, and some take to it more than others.  Despite the fact that she is an Alsatian, Marie-Claire ends up working for the Nazi’s – which leads to more than she could ever have imagined.  With her family fully onside with the Resistance, and acting as a safe house for Jews trying to escape, Marie-Claire is alienated from her family and her sister Victoire.

Victoire is a strong, young woman who wants to do her bit for the war, and when she finds out that one of her extended family is in danger, she has no choice but to reach out to Marie-Claire, despite her traitorous behaviour.  As forgiving as she is, can she really excuse the things Marie-Claire has done……and will she help her? As time is ticking away, they must try to reunite for the good of their family.

I was completely gripped by this story, and absolutely gobsmacked at times.  Marie-Claire isn’t the sort of character you will easily like, but she goes through some incredibly tough times.  Starting out as a somewhat spoilt brat who thinks the war won’t affect her, Marie-Claire ends up affected more than most in a horrible way……. Victoire, in contrast, is only a teen but is strong and brave, willing to do whatever she can to help her country and the allies.  It’s lovely to see her grow as the war rages on.  There are some remarkable characters in this.- Jacques, Margaux (a formidable woman!), Juliette, Nathan, Eric and Marcel….all who do their bit for the Resistance, and some pay the ultimate price.  And as you would expect, with a WWII novel, there are some absolutely despicable characters who you will detest.

Maas has done a fantastic job of researching and at the end of the book, shares with us which parts are true, and again it’s heartbreaking.  Her Darkest Hour really bought to life what it may have been like to live in German occupied Alsace, what the locals had to put up with and what they lost at the hands of the Nazi’s.  The story also covers a labour camp, and Maas has done this is a sensitive way.

There are some subjects within the book that readers should be aware of.  The story does cover rape and miscarriage, as well as the tragedies that we have come to know were carried out by the Nazi’s.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  It will set you on an emotional rollercoaster, shock you, break your heart, but also warm your heart in places.  Covering love, friendship, secrets, family, betrayal, loyalty, sacrifice and reunion, this beautiful story should not be missed. I’m will most definitely be searching for more from this author, and looking out for future books from her.
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A thriller that was easy to keep turning the pages throughout. This is a sobering account of a Nazi invasion on a peaceful small town and the effect on the families. 

I thank the publisher and Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own. This review will be cross posted. 

Her Darkest Hour by Sharon Maas is a engrossing historical fiction book set during the second world war in Colmar, a small French town during the German occupation. The story is told by two sisters perspective, Marie-Claire and Victoire. Marie-Claire is the oldest sister. She is in love with man who shocked her by joining the resistance so in her grief she goes to work for the Nazi's. Her sister Victorie is devastated at her actions as she is working to protect their citizens from the Nazi's and hiding people.  The two worlds collide as only they can during war time.  Its told from both perspectives of each sister and a wonderfully drawn story of family love and standing up for one's moral beliefs against evil.
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A beautiful and heart-breaking story of shattered innocence, twisted loyalties, the bonds that break and the enduring power of love, Sharon Maas’s Her Darkest Hour is a captivating historical novel set during the Second World War that is as impossible to put down as it is to forget.

Life for the residents of the French town of Colmar has changed beyond all recognition. Swastikas hang from every lamppost, tanks are lined up outside of the town hall and German soldiers patrol the streets ensuring that nobody steps out of line. For young Marie-Claire, however, the fact that her town has been taken over by the Germans is of no importance to her – not when she is head over heels in love with her friend, Jacques, for whom she would do absolutely anything – even spy on her German boss. There is absolutely nothing that Marie-Claire would not do for the man she loves with all of her heart. Marie-Claire would love nothing more than for Jacques to see her as the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life with and not just the silly little girl who hangs around him all the time. However, when Jacques rejects her, Marie-Claire’s love is quickly replaced by a desperate and dangerous desire for revenge….

Her little sister Victoire cannot believe that Marie-Claire has turned her back on her family and her country. Marie-Claire’s betrayal has not only endangered all of their lives, but jeopardised her mission to hide Jewish refugees in their mother’s wine cellar. If Victoire is caught, the repercussions do not bear thinking about and her fear only intensifies when Marie-Claire marries her German boss, Dietrich Kurtz. Victoire’s relationship with her sister has been severed forever. Victoire cannot believe that her sister would stoop so low. Yet, Victoire knows that her new brother in law could well hold the key to uncovering some information which she desperately needs to rescue somebody who is in danger…

Victoire had thought that she would never speak to her sister ever again. But with nobody to turn to and nobody she can trust, she finds herself reaching out to her sister and begging her to obtain the information she needs – even if this quest puts Marie-Claire’s life in mortal danger. With everything to lose and nobody they can trust, can the these two sisters manage to not only heal the rift that had torn them apart, but also do their bit to triumph over the enemy’s malevolence?

Sharon Maas’s Her Darkest Hour is exceptional storytelling at its finest. Wonderfully evocative, searingly emotional and vividly researched, Her Darkest Hour is a book that will break your heart and have you reaching for the tissues as you find yourself completely and utterly mesmerized by this captivating tale of family strife, impossible choices and courage that I am still thinking about days after finishing it.

High quality historical fiction does not get any better than Sharon Maas’ superb new novel, Her Darkest Hour.
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An absolutely gripping account of life under German Occupation in Colmar, North-east France. From being a young girl on the brink of womanhood, we see how one slight can have repercussions that will endanger not just the life of Marie- Claire but also her family and those she knows. This is a harrowing account and it is difficult not to feel sorry for Marie-Claire, even though she brings much of the suffering upon herself. I went from thinking her a silly girl to a heartless woman bent on revenge but then Sharon Maas allows us to see inside the character and her real motivation. What happens at the end will leave you with a sense that in war there are no winners but some people have more to lose than others.
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A brilliantly written book about events during World War 2 in Occupied France. This book tells about the horrific atrocities carried out by the Nazis and the Resistance’s fight against the German Army. The events centre round one family. This is an obviously well researched and well thought out story.  It is a memorable read.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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A historical fiction novel that follows three females in WWII, this book is well-written and kept me interested. I liked that it had a linear timeline; unlike other historical fiction novels, it stayed only in WWII. I thought the author did a good job of making each of the female’s experiences unique. However, I would have liked more of Juliette’s story, as she sort of came and went. Other characters made cameos, which is understandable, but still a little jolting to have them come and go quickly. I also thought that the ending seemed a little rushed. But I still thought it was well-written and insightful. For a full review, please visit my blog at Fireflies and Free Kicks. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a digital ARC of the book.
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Her Darkest Hour by Sharon Maas takes us back to Alsace and the town of Colmar and the surrounding areas which first featured in The Soldier's Girl. In a way I felt this was a prequel of sorts to said book but of course it can be read as a standalone and for those who have already read The Soldier's Girl I think it will really enhance the overall story as lots of little connections are made and we get a deeper insight into familiar characters that we have already met. This time around there is more of a focus on the characters who produce wine at the Chateaux Gauthier and I found myself interpreting familiar characters and plots in a new and exciting way. Initially I did question whether this story should have come first but on reflection I think it was perfect to write the books in the order in which they are written as it allowed for a deeper exploration of characters who perhaps may not have gotten the limelight they deserved in the previous book.

Sharon Maas states in her end notes and acknowledgements that this was never intended to be an account of the war more so it was to show how the war affected a family unit. So some people may miss specific details of the war but the last quarter more than makes up for this as things start to come to a head. This book is very character driven and you will sway back and forth in your opinions of characters, in particular for me this was the case with Marie Claire, one of the daughters of the household. She is very divisive and time and time again my opinion of her changed depending on which stance she was adapting and for what reasons. Some of her actions leave rather a lot to be desired.

Christmas Day 1933 was the first time that Marie Claire realised she was deeply in love with Jacques, son of Maxene, the winemaker for her mother Margaux. But for Jacques the feelings are not mutual, their relationship is more like that of siblings. It's this rejection that will eat away at Marie Claire and will form the reasoning for many of her selfish actions throughout the book. The book moves forward at several junctures during the war years but not so that it becomes confusing for the reader. It needed to hop forward in order to cover the period of the war and how it deeply and devastatingly affected the family. I did think coming towards the end that there were several years to go and many explanations needed to be given and I wondered how this would come about?

Of course it did but perhaps this need to fit everything in made the last quarter or so feel quite rushed considering the time already given to building up and developing the story. That would be my only minor issue with this book as overall it was a very good read and I felt I got to know the characters very well and it gave me a real broad picture of how the war impacted on the family in question not to mention all the sacrifices they made and heartache they endured. If you have the luxury of reading both of the books together I think you will get an even deeper sense of what the author was trying to achieve by writing these books.

In 1940 the Germans march into the Alsace region and claim it for themselves. For many years this territory has swayed back and forth between France and Germany but now the Germans have once again arrived and are determined to stamp their mark on the area. People's names must be changed to German names, street names and signs are altered, the German flag flies at every corner, houses and food are requisitioned and the army sets up their headquarters in the town hall where Marie Claire works. She is one of the ones, thanks to her ability to speak German, who is kept on as a secretary to Commander Dietrich Kurtz. It is this betrayal by admitting she knows their language that will forever haunt her and it changes the course of her character throughout the story.

Marie Claire was always the one who was different from her family. Her siblings Victoire, Leon and Lucien seem like alien people to her and she has no interest in the vineyard and wine business run by her mother. Her father lives in Paris and she dreams of leaving Colmar and travelling to live there with them. Marie Claire is one for the high life, she loves make-up, fashion magazines and all the top quality clothes her father sends to her. She has not yet reached the age where she can leave for the bright lights of a new city and this grieves her. Her family are aghast that she will work for the Germans and comply with their every command but really she has no choice. But in another way I felt she was doing it to get back at her family for not understanding her and making her feel like an outsider. But this is all in her head. Jacques is now working for the Resistance in France and he plays a pivotal role in wanting to bring the war to an end but will Marie Claire play ball or is she too far entrenched into the ways of the Germans?

As a character Marie Claire was very hard to like. She seemed to have her head in the clouds and considered only herself at all times. She never took into account that all her various family members were doing their bit to see the back of the Germans. Rather she was selfish and was only satisfying her own needs. She creates a feeling of unease and foreboding through her actions that permeates the book. The situations she finds herself in are all of her own making and could have been avoided if she had more compassion and a greater self awareness of the world around her. Things become very sinister for her and her story takes a dangerous route but when push comes to shove will she do her bit for the right cause and will her family members help her out when she needs the most in the most desperate of times as she finds herself becoming deeper embroiled in the work of the Commander.

I just thought Marie Claire was so self-centred and only conscious of her own wants and needs and really the war years were not the time to fuel ones own ambitions rather they should have put aside to fight for her country in any way she could be it big or small. It really annoyed me that she was neutral and never resisted what was going on. Yes at times she swayed back and forth but if I was looking at the overall picture my opinion of her as a character as whole would not be a positive one. It's a true sign of family love and commitment that although her family disagreed with what she went on to do that deep down there was still that love and affiliation lurking there for Marie Claire from her family members. I did wish that she would get over the fact that Jacques refused her and not hold it to heart so much. She needed to move on but the question remains whether she did this in the right manner or not?

Juliette, who is the sister of Jacques, does play an important role in this book as she starts to work for the Resistance. Although I would have loved some more chapters from her viewpoint even though I understood the reasons for this not being possible. More so from a sibling viewpoint the focus turned to Victoire, Marie Claire's sister, who is aged 15 when war first breaks out. She longs to do her bit for her country and despite being so young she is much wiser and self aware than her sister ever could be. Over the course of the book we see Victoire turn into a remarkable young woman, with a sensible head on her shoulders. She is disappointed that Jacques won't let her join his resistance group. She would love nothing more than to be traversing the mountains helping Jews flee and seek refuge.

But she heeds Jacques wise words and Victoire and her mother have an important role to play that although she feels she is not doing her bit really she is an important cog in the overall picture. Victoire was the total opposite to her sister and it was interesting to see how two completely people could come from the same family that stood for the same values yet they could go in completely different directions. A direction which would put plenty of people in danger. I loved Victoire as a character and even more so when her most crucial scene comes in the last quarter of the book. She pushed everything aside, her feelings and opinions and made the ultimate sacrifice. After all family does stand for a lot.

I really enjoyed Her Darkest Hour I know enjoyed is the wrong word given the subject matter but still it is a very good book in the historical fiction genre based around World War Two. Sharon Maas is really finding her feet writing about this period and I hope there will be more books like this to come in the future.
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Her Darkest Hour by Sharon Maas

Set during World War II in Alsace this is a story of choices and how they impact not only the person who makes the choice but also their family, friends, and community. Choices made in “the heat of the moment” tend not to have the same clarity and far seeing wisdom that those decisions and choices that are made carefully after consideration of all the known options. Choices indicate that there is more than one answer, solution or way forward. And in this book the choices made by more than one person have long reaching impact for many. 

I found myself being feeling that 
* Marie-Claire was naïve, selfish, emotional, seeking friendship and approval and more often than not made choices that left her less than happy
* Marie-Claire’s family did not understand her
* Jacques was more involved with himself and his cause than with the people he used to serve his “higher goal”
* Kurtz was evil through and through
* Side—supporting characters were expendable
* War is evil 
* Victoire, Marie-Claire’s sister, did come through for her in the end
* This was a dark gritty sad read that did not really make me feel good when I read the last page
* Perhaps my past experiences with war impacted my reading of this book

Did I enjoy this book? Yes and No
Would I read more by this author? I would if the subject interested me

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC – This is my honest review. 

3-4 Stars
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Her Darkest Hour by Sharon Maas is a historical fiction book set during the second world war in Colmar, a small French town during the German occupation. The story is told from two perspectives, two sisters, Marie-Claire and Victoire. Marie-Claire is the eldest and in love with Jacques, but Jacques joins the Resistance. Marie-Claire, in her devastation begins working for the Nazi's. Victoire is raging with this as she actually hides Jews in her cellar. The family crumbles, until the day the siblings discover you always need family.
Marie-Claire seemed a very selfish young lady at first and Victoire so selfless, but as the story develops so does Marie-Claire, it was interesting to see the changes both girls go through during such a hard time for everyone. The book is beautifully written and the description of Colmar made me want to visit the town. Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for the copy of the book and allowing me to be a part of this Blog Tour.
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This was an easy to read thriller that kept my attention all the way through! Lots of twists and surprises I didn't see coming. Very good, would recommend....definitely worth picking up :)
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Thanks to Bookouture, NetGalley, and Sharon Maas for my copy of Her Darkest Hour.

When the German army arrives in Colmar a small town in rural France; they quickly take control of everything, property, food, wine, houses and farms. Swastikas hang from lampposts, tanks are lined up outside the town hall, intimidating German soldiers are everywhere and the locals are scared.

At Chateau Gauthier, Margaux lives with her two daughters Marie-Claire and Victoire. Her absent husband lives in Paris, basically they live separate lives and their two sons Leon and Lucien are involved with the resistance. Margaux is a real character, she’s strong, determined, loves her children, her home and her country.  

Marie-Claire has a huge crush on her neighbor Jacques, he only thinks of her as a sister and he is horrified when she makes her intentions known. He, his sister Juliette, Marie-Claire, Leon, Lucien and Victoire all grew up together with Margaux being a mother to them all and he had no idea she felt that way about him. Marie-Claire leaves home in a big huff, moves in with her Aunt Sophie, begins working as a secretary for Dietrich Kurtz.

Her little sister Victoire is horrified that her sister is working for the Germans, her family and friends consider her to be a traitor. When Marie-Claire becomes engaged to her boss, her mother Margaux wants nothing to do with her; her daughter is fickle, selfish and how could she marry a Nazi?

I assumed the story would be about WW II, the French resistance and Margaux helping Jewish people escape. But most of the story is about the sister’s relationship, Marie-Claire’s toxic marriage and her evil monster of a husband.
At times the story was confusing and it did however make me think about how many young French women married German soldiers, what their families thought about them and the repercussions. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and I gave the book three stars.
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A War Torn Family

I couldn’t stop reading this book. I have definitely found a new author, I will be reading more. I needed Kleenex with this one, it was a real tearjerker.

This book begins at the beginning of WWII in a village in France. The characters involved differed in opinions over the war and whether or not the Nazis were evil or not, and how long they would remain in France.

The main characters were Marie-Claire, Victoire, Juliette, Margaux, and Jacques. Against everyone’s warnings, Marie-Claire goes to work as a secretary for a high ranking Nazi officer. (which later proves to be a very bad choice). Jacques was raised next door to Marie-Claire , he was like a brother to her. Jacques was involved in a French resistance group as was his sister Juliette and Marie-Claire’s sister Victoire. Margaux was the mother of Marie-Claire and Victoire.

This family was torn apart by the war. There was loss, death, a brutal marriage, and bad feeling between family members because of the war and actions taken by the characters . This included actions by the Nazi’s, a concentration camp, actions by the resistance, deaths, hating, loving, forgiving, and survival. It was a time of pain and heartbreak. A time of young people growing up hard during the war. Their choices and the realization that they had consequences. A family secret long hidden, and how it affected all persons involved.

This book is brutally honest and realistic. It tells the story as it was in the time period in which it was written. The scenes and the fashion as well as the furnishings of the homes and locations are described in vivid detail. It is a hard period to read about but interesting as well. I liked reading about the clothing they wore and how they furnished their homes. Also the descriptions of the scenery.

The characters are well developed and believable. The story is well written. It is definitely a page turner and I would recommend it.

Thanks to Sharon Maas, Bookouture, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of the book in return for an honest review.
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Two families closely connected and living in Colmar during the Second World War. Nazis take over the town and Marie-Claire finds herself on the opposite side as everyone close to her when she takes a job as a personal secretary to a senior Nazi. Marie-Claire’s mother runs a vineyard at her family chateau, her younger daughter Victoire is desperate to join friends fighting against the German Forces, but she is only a teenager and has to look after the animals and the Jewish mother and daughter they have hiding in a cellar underneath their chateau.

Marie-Claire is beautiful and knows it. She’s always been in love with childhood friend Jacques. Jacques is in the resistance and that as well as watching out for those working with him is his focus. He rebuffed Marie-Claire’s awkward attempts to seduce him a few years before and when he does it again she is heartbroken and makes a decision that will take her life into a much darker place than she could ever have imagined.

This is a story of friendship, families, the horror of war and how far people will go for their cause or to survive. I enjoyed Marie-Claire’s story was intrigued by Jacques and would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for an ARC copy in return for an honest review.
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Set in Alsace, France during WWII

Two sisters are torn apart by WWII. Marie-Claire works for the German army. Victoire is aghast at her sisters traitorous behaviour. Victoire hides Jewish refugees in her  others wine cellar. The sisters are estranged from their father. He lives with his mistresses in Paris. Marie-Claire is in ,ove with Jacques. But when Jacques rejects her, Marie-Claire is out for revenge .

Thisnstory is beautifully written and descriptive. The first half of the book, thenpace was quite slow. The book has been well researched and very informative. There were a few characters I, liked but others I didn't like at all. Thisnstorybis told from multiple points of view. Thenstory tells the devastation living under the Nazt brought to one small town. I did feel the ending was a  it rushed.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Bookouture and the author Sharon Maas for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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