Monday, March 4, 2024

Can their love overcome dangerous obstacles? by Diane Scott Lewis


To purchase, please click HERE

Formally "Outcast Artist in Bretagne," my WWII novel is now "Bretagne: a forbidden affair."

August is the German commandant of southern Brittany. Norah is an Englishwoman trapped in France after the German invasion. The two fall in love after she draws his portrait, desperate for money. August loathes Hitler and has plans to take Norah to Switzerland. Every moment is rife with danger.

Norah has been caught forging; can their romance continue?

Read an excerpt:

“I understand. It’s so awful.” Norah drank from her cup, her gaze searching. “I just want us out of this war, some place safe for you and me. A cottage on Lake Lucerne?”

“I’m working on that. As soon as my son graduates next autumn, I can put in my papers, then take him out of Germany.” August drank half his cup, stood, fetched his tunic, and put it on. “I have to leave now to inspect the airfield at the tip of this peninsula. I’ll return tomorrow. Why don’t I bring over my horse, and you have your cousin Jean spend the night here? He can ride Maler, and I’ll rest easier knowing you aren’t alone.”

She rose and stepped up to him, her smile tempting, her eyes moist. “That’s a perfect idea, thank you.”

He bent, longing to wipe away any hesitation, any lasting doubts, and kissed her, hard, his hands in her hair. Tasting the sweetness of her lips, he pressed her close. She wrapped her arms around him. He pulled back, stabilizing himself before his resolve melted. “I wish I could stay, but we slept late, and I must bring Maler.” He turned from her flushed face, put on his hat, and left the cottage. August’s body thrummed like a tuning fork. He yearned to indulge in their passion, but needed to stand aloof, the man in charge, for just a little longer.

Diane lives is Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty dachshund.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Four Stars from Amy's Bookshelf Reviews, by Diane Scott Lewis


Notice the new title!

To purchase, please click HERE

Excerpt from review:

The story is endearing and heartbreaking. Diane Scott Lewis brings the story to life. This read is more than just words on a page. Bretagne: a forbidden affair is a definite recommendation by Amy's Bookshelf Reviews.

To read the complete review:

Amy's Bookshelf Review

Diane lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty dachshund.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Bragging Rights, and contest Winner by Diane Scott Lewis


To purchase, please click HERE

My book, Outcast Artist in Bretagne, is the winner in N N Lights Book Heaven best book for 2023 in historical fiction.

Here is an excerpt:

At the sound of a boot scraping over stone, Norah peeked around the tall rock. Her pulse spiked. The Commandant stood a couple of feet away, straight as a steel beam, arrogant, gazing out over the Atlantic. His Nazi uniform was a terrible mockery to the village of Saint Guénolé.

She’d thought herself secluded here. Why had she taken the chance? She hunkered down and should slip away, since she could be apprehended for spying on the German officer. Though that’s not why she was there. Loathing coated with fear rippled through her.

Almost frozen with inaction, she slid down a little more into the cove of rocks’ shadows. She glanced at her drawing book. The sketch of the Atlantic Puffin, delicate in its lines traced in colored pencils. The orange legs and strong red and black beak on a body of black, pale gray, and a white underside shimmered on the page. In profile, its eye shone with life, and the puffin looked about to take flight.

A gust of wind tossed her hair into her face, a thick sweep of strawberry-blonde in the scent of brine from the sea.

Did she hear his boots scrape closer? What if he peered over the rocks? Swiping her tresses aside, she shrank deeper into a cleft and glared over the ocean, longing for her home in Yorkshire, angry and upset at being stranded. But she must pretend to be calm, in control.

The Southern Finistère coast, with its rugged, rocky outline, was a buttress against the forceful ocean waves that slapped the stone slope two yards below her toes. The dark indigo of the Bay of Biscay reflected a blue spring sky. Spray filtered through the air, a mist that refreshed her skin—except today. If she could only sneak to the north coast and be capable of swimming the channel.

Inching to the side, Norah crept, head down, out from the semi-circle of tall rocks on the opposite side from the Commandant. Thankful she wore trousers and not a skirt, plus sturdy Oxford shoes, she brushed off her backside. She hurried past the monolithic-like stones with golden lichen clinging to their bases, across an open area of grass and into the bushes then woods. Her pencils rattled in the canvas bag. Her legs grazed against the orange and yellow wildflowers.

A sentry or two always patrolled this area. She tried to remain inconspicuous, but more soldiers had arrived in the last few weeks. The Germans had started to build ports somewhere along here and a special one, heavily guarded, right below the village. She must be more careful.

As she pushed her way through gorse bushes and scratchy plants, sharply fragrant, she pondered the German officer’s reasons for standing at the cliff, which he did often—but never so close to her cove. Was he waiting for reinforcements by sea? Or coveting England across the channel? But that view was on the northern coast of this peninsula that stuck like a fat finger out into the Atlantic.

The Nazis’ bombing raids had already decimated so much in London in the Blitz. They’d also dropped bombs on York, but with minimal damage so far. Her country had been attacked by German planes from September ’40 to last month—the worst raid ever on London. She groaned. Now June, would it start again?

Since last year, Hitler planned an invasion of England, but it had failed to land any troops.

Her stomach clenched with more anger she needed to temper. She increased her stride, sucking in the fresh air. Rustling behind her, footsteps—too close. Someone panting then a hand grabbed her shoulder.

Norah flinched and swung around. A baby-faced soldier in Nazi greenish-gray scowled at her. “What are you doing here?” he demanded in heavily accented, terrible French, two of his teeth jagged like a weasel.

She straightened, chin high, the pad pressed to her stomach. Inside, she trembled. “I live nearby. I was enjoying a walk. I draw birds.” Her French was passable after the year entrenched with her cousin, and her schoolgirl lessons from a decade ago. Her arrival happened only five weeks before the Germans invaded France. A desperate year because of that and for anguished, personal reasons.
The young man pointed at her book and bag, then shouted over his shoulder in German.

Was he alerting his superior? “Please, I’ve done nothing wrong.” She had no desire to come face to face with the Commandant. “You can search me…if you want.” She cringed at that idea.

“I have no choice but to report you.” The soldier shouted again. The officer’s heavy footsteps thudded closer.

He burst through the bushes, tall and broad-shouldered, his expression stern. The two Germans spoke in their guttural language.

Norah wanted to collapse to the ground but refused to show intimidation. Her spine nearly crackled as she held it firm.

The Commandant confronted her, his blue eyes penetrating. “What is your purpose out here at the shore?” He had distinct cheekbones, a handsome face, his lips full; a man of about forty. An iron cross hung at his high collar. “You don’t care to take instruction from we Philistines. Civilians are restricted.”

“I apologize,” she tried to keep the revulsion from her tone, though his near-teasing words —or perhaps a taunt—put her off-balance even more, “I was out for a walk and…I used to walk by the shore. Before—” Before you damned Germans arrived.

Diane lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty dachshund.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Illicit Lovers Share a Tender Moment


On Sale, only 4.99. To purchase, please click HERE

I hope you enjoy this intimate moment between my characters, after last month's turmoil when August caught Norah with forging material. This scene takes place prior to that. An unlikely romance during WWII.

August kissed Norah’s naked shoulder, her skin warm after their lovemaking. Her lithe body felt natural against his in their mutual musky scent. Crickets chirped through the open window where a slight breeze filtered around blackout curtains, into the dark room of the gardener’s cottage. The moonlight outlined them both. “I love you, mon amour.”

“I love you…so much. And this is nicer on a mattress,” she murmured, her back to him as they snuggled under the sheets on the iron bed.

“You seemed a little agitated earlier; is something wrong?”

She turned and touched his face. “I’m fine now. Can I ask where you got that huge scar on your right side?”

“I was shot seven years ago, trying to warn friends.” He really didn’t want to go into the details, the pain, at this moment. But he was naked, like she was, to be explored in all his flaws. He shoved away those ugly memories, brushed his lips over hers, then traced his fingers down her silky, soft back. “I’ll tell you more later. In the morning, we’ll plan our picnic, and you can meet my stallion, Maler. He might like his picture drawn, then painted.”

“Another handsome portrait. I’d be happy to.” She reached up and ruffled his hair. “Even in the shadows, I like your hair mussed up.”

He smiled. “No military strictness?” Wouldn’t it be ‘freeing’ to not have to wear that uniform each day, which wrapped him in the menace of the Wehrmacht?

She nestled her head on his chest. “My cousin’s husband might ask me to leave their home.”

“Why? What has happened?” His mind immediately went to the rumor of a forger, an inquiry he’d yet to begin.

“He thinks…I’ve been there too long already.” She sounded evasive. Or he read too much into it.

“Is it as straightforward as that?” Here was the source of her anxiety. A shame to have to discuss these things after they’d shared such sweet passion tonight. He did need to find out what she knew. “Is it because you are with me?”

She sighed and ran her fingers down his abdomen. “That’s part of it. I was wondering, though you might object, if I could move in here.”

August closed his eyes, enjoying her touch, but now these other problems pushed in. “You’d be alone, though I could come most nights; unless I leave for inspections. Let me think about it.” He could throttle the damn butcher. He wanted to recapture that languid, satisfied feeling he’d just had.

“You could provide me with a pistol, for protection,” she whispered.

He grasped her wandering hand. “That is dangerous, too.” Non-Germans weren’t allowed weapons, for obvious reasons. “I would worry about you out here.” But where else could she go? Anywhere close by, without her family, she’d be open to worse scrutiny and hazard.

She kissed his chest, her mouth warm on his skin. “I know how to fire a gun.”

“I’m not surprised.” He pulled her against him and kissed her firmly on the lips. “We should sleep, then talk about this soon. I’ll think of a solution.” Another, more personal question niggled at him. He hated to continue to dishonor her when he felt this intensely about her. He let the question slip out. “Norah, would you marry me? Though as a German officer I might be a threat to you and your people for a short time more."

She breathed in slowly. A few minutes of quiet. “As difficult…yes, I would. We’ll go to Switzerland, you said. You can retire next year?”

“That is my intention.” As soon as he could take his son with them—after graduation—away from the Nazis, and count on his daughters being protected by their husbands.

He kissed the top of her head as he hugged her, holding on to his dream, making it real. He needed her love, though other troubles such as the direction of the war, and the business with the U-boat, kept him from any true peace. But negotiating life was always a challenge. She couldn’t be involved in the clandestine activities in the village—he must believe that. Yet Schmidt was certain to cause problems.

August closed his eyes, trying to drag himself into oblivion. He knew his family wouldn’t be thrilled when he married an Englishwoman. One thirteen years younger, and his mistress. But his love blurred all these battles.

He rested his cheek on her lush, fragrant hair as she snuggled against him. Her name was whispered in the allegations. The picnic—he swallowed a groan; he must question her then.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

I interview my anti-hero from Outcast Artist in Bretagne, by Diane Scott Lewis


To purchase the ebook or paperback, click HERE

I previously interviewed my heroine, Norah, to dig deeper into her character. Today it's my hero (who you'll think at first is an anti-hero) It's fun to talk to them out of the written context of the story. I hope you enjoy it.

Today I interview Major August von Gottlieb, the commandant of Southern Brittany.

Major, I understand that though you're in the German army, you don't care for Hitler's policies?

A tall, handsome man, with blond hair and blue eyes, the Major sits and adjusts his greenish-gray tunic with the Iron Cross. "I came to realize that Hitler is a madman. His policies are getting good people murdered. When I was assigned here, in this bucolic village, I found I wanted a different life. But it isn't so simple to leave the German army. I would be shot as a traitor, unless I plan carefully."

Have you set any of these plans into motion?

"First, unlike so many officers, I refused to starve the population by sending away the food supplies. I make certain the villagers keep their fair share."

Do any of your fellow officers resent this?

"Ja, they do, and are sure to make snide remarks to me. But I am in charge." He rubs his cleft chin, his gaze penetrating. "I was nearly killed in an incident having to do with Hitler a few years back. It's made me more determined."

I see the pain cross his features. Have your superiors complained?

"I was visited by one colonel, but I eased his mind. We need strong workers here to build the special port."

And what will this special port be used for?

His eyebrows rise. "I cannot divulge that yet. It is something I plan to, let's say, take care of so no further damage is done to England or France from this area."

A noble plan. I hear you have a young lady that you're interested in.

"I do. We are both in love." His eyes soften and he smiles tenderly. "She is English, so that is another strike against me. I hope we can manage a future together. I feel such passion for her. But there are many obstacles." He stares off for a moment. "She has had a rough time of it, and I want to soothe her and be a decent man for her."

The villagers have vilified Norah because of her relationship with you.

"I regret that. If I'm not destroyed by the peril to come, my wish is to escape with her to Switzerland and get married. I want to honor her. There are so many secrets and scheming around us." He fists his hand, his gaze troubled. "But I cannot tell anymore than that." Gottlieb stands and puts on his high-capped hat. "I have work to do. I must bid you good day, frau."

Well, thank you for speaking with me. I wish you both success. Hmmm, an officer working from within to sabotage Hitler. I'm intrigued how he will do it, and what needs to be 'taken care of.' Norah had mentioned a weapon in her interview.

Diane lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty dachshund.

Monday, September 4, 2023

On a More Personal Note, by Diane Scott Lewis

 Lately my husband has had a terrible cough. Doctors could not figure it out. Then his calcium levels went through the roof.

They put him in the hospital for major tests. His lymph nodes are swollen. More tests. We finally got the results. Cancer, the word you never want to hear.

It's thrown us all in disarray. He'll start radiation soon, at a hospital 40 minutes away. They have an excellent cancer center there. I'm still in a daze. He is emotionally up and down.

My sons will help drive him back and forth. Even our wine lady offered to drive. I'm speeding along a backroad.

How to cope? How to keep writing? It's literally one day at a time.

I must resurrect my off-beat sense of humor for a situation that is far from amusing. Plus comfort a man who is staring at his own mortality.

My friend in England is going through this with her husband. Her advice is a great comfort. Even my publisher is involved, her husband now deceased, was a great believer in help from the spirit world. We'll use any means possible to get through this.

My oldest (longest) friend has been there, too; by now she may wish she could hide!

Now I must get my head back into the YA novel I'm working on for publication next year. It's all surreal.

I'm a Type A who needs to dial down to a B.

Prayers if you got 'em!

Monday, August 7, 2023

N.N. Lights excellent review of Outcast Artist in Bretagne, by Diane Scott Lewis


N.N. Lights gave my novel an excellent 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:

Amazon US:

Can their love overcome dangerous obstacles? by Diane Scott Lewis

  To purchase, please click HERE Formally "Outcast Artist in Bretagne," my WWII novel is now "Bretagne: a forbidden affair.&q...