Review: Beneath a Starless Sky by Tessa Harris

You had me at forbidden romance with this one. I am an absolute sucker for forbidden romances and this book sounded like it had the ultimate forbidden romance—German soldier and a Jewish woman during WWII. I mean come on how could I pass on that? I was super excited to dive into this one. Author Tessa Harris has written two other historical mysteries series (which I now need to read) but this is her first stand alone historical fiction novel.

While her other novels are set in the Victorian era, this one is set during WWII and I thought she did a wonderful job with her historical research and presentation not to mention the romance which is the reason why I am so excited to read her other books! I am a sucker for a well researched historical fiction novel and this one did not disappoint.

It came in at around 350 pages which might seem short by historical fiction standards—sometimes historical fiction novels run long because the authors like to add a lot of historical detail. This one did not skimp on historical details but kept the focus on the characters and romance while keeping the historic details pointed and clear rather than for filler (if that makes sense). If you are a fan of historical fiction you should know what I mean by this. If you need a last minute gift for the historical fiction fan on your shopping list, take a look at this lovely story!

Summary

An epic tale of love, hope, glamour and courage set against the staggering true-life events leading up to World War 2.

For fans of A Woman of War and The Nightingale comes a heart-wrenching tale that takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride from Munich to Hollywood, London, Paris and Lisbon.

A forbidden romance…
Munich 1930 Jewish ballet dancer Lilli Sternberg longs to escape the rising Nazi menace. But a whirl-wind romance with a promising young army officer, Captain Marco Zeiller, puts her Hollywood dreams on hold – until her heart is broken.

A dream shattered….
Making it to Hollywood, Lilli dances with the legendary Fred Astaire, who introduces her to high society and the heir to the British throne, Prince Edward. But when injury ends her film career, Edward and his American mistress, Wallis Simpson, both Nazi sympathisers, have other plans for Lilli. 

A final chance to save her loved-ones and change the course of history…
As war looms and Marco Zeiller, now working for Goebbels, re-enters her life, Lilli’s loyalties are tested as one by one her family falls prey to Nazi terror. Against all odds, can Lilli save her family and foil Hitler’s plot to kidnap Edward? (summary from Goodreads)

Review

In recent years, I am been loving all the female spy war time historical fiction. I love seeing these women and their stories brought to the light even if it’s a historical fiction novel, often they are based on true stories. And made up or not I love a character with grit, tenacity, and courage. Ultimately that’s what this novel is about, a brave woman who risks her life to save her family. I adored Lilli and found her easy to read and admire. I think other readers will agree that she is a fantastic character that you won’t want to stop reading!

Normally I don’t care for real life historical figures popping up randomly in fictional books. For example, Coco Chanel randomly showing up because a character visits her shop while in Paris once and meets her and then we never hear about Coco again. It’s one thing if said historical figure continues to be part of the story but as a one off, it comes across as simple name dropping and I typically don’t care for it. In this book we meet Fred Astaire as well as a few other well known historical figures like the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, in this book these characters have impact on the larger story so it didn’t bother me at all and I was so happy about this!

As I said earlier, Harris balances historical details with great characters and romance. I loved the history but wasn’t overwhelmed by it in this novel. There is enough to make historical fiction fans happy without being a dry history book. But where Harris shines is with the romance. I loved the romance in this one and that’s what made me absolutely fall in love with this one. I couldn’t get enough of Marco and then he broke Lilli’s heart and my heart hurt for her too. This is a story about history, romance, and family—-family plays a big part in this book and readers will delight in this one. I loved it and I cannot wait to read more from this author!

Book Info and Rating

Kindle Edition, 358 pages

Publisher December 9th 2021 by HQ Digital

ASIN B08LQ6ZYQ8

Free review copy provided by publisher, HQ Digital, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Genre: historical fiction

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