Review: Lana’s War (ARC)

Expected publication: January 12th 2021, 320 pages

Author: Anita Abriel

Paris 1943: Lana Antanova is on her way to see her husband with the thrilling news that she is pregnant. But when she arrives at the convent where he teaches music, she’s horrified to see Gestapo officers execute him for hiding a Jewish girl in the piano.

A few months later, grieving both her husband and her lost pregnancy, Lana is shocked when she’s approached to join the resistance on the French Riviera. As the daughter of a Russian countess, Lana has the perfect background to infiltrate the émigré community of Russian aristocrats who socialize with German officers, including the man who killed her husband.

Lana’s cover story makes her the mistress of Guy Pascal, a wealthy Swiss industrialist and fellow resistance member, in whose villa in Cap Ferrat she lives. Together, they gather information on upcoming raids and help members of the Jewish community escape. Consumed by her work, she doesn’t expect to become attached to a young Jewish girl or wonder about the secrets held by the man whose house she shares. And as the Nazis’ deadly efforts intensify, her intention to protect those around her may put them all at risk instead.

With Anita Abriel’s “heartfelt and memorable” (Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling, Lana’s War is a sweeping and suspenseful tale of survival and second chances during some of the darkest days of history.

Lana’s War was one of my Goodreads giveaway wins and I am very thankful to the publisher and author for the opportunity to read and review this story. Although this story is outside my typical contemporary time period, I’m glad that I took the chance to read it. The story was well written and the setting was beautiful. The story takes place during WWII times and it’s nice how the story integrates itself into the actual history so the reader feels like this is a story that could’ve taken place in the real world. After reading this novel, I looked into the author’s other works, including The Light After the War, and have since added it to my ever-growing TBR list.

Lana (Antanova) Hartmann has exciting news to share with her husband, Fredric, who teaches music at a convent. When she arrives, she sees a German officer shoot him for aiding Jewish children. Not only does she find herself without her husband, soon after, her unborn child does not make it and now she finds herself even more alone. She takes time to heal and deal with the grief of two losses of those she loved. After some time, she slowly begins to establish a new routine where she assists her parents in the convent. The story then moves from Paris to the French Riviera as Lana decides it is time for revenge and she joins the French Resistance and help assist Jewish people. As Lana’s mother is a Russian countess, this allows Lana to infiltrate the social scene and get her closer to her husband’s murderer, Alois Brunner.

Her cover story is to be the mistress of wealthy Swiss industrialist, Guy Pascal. Lana is a very analytical person so she struggles with her assigned role as she worries about her image being with Guy soon after Fredric’s murder. Her analytical nature character trait that can get a little wearing on the reader, as she does tend to analyze a lot throughout the story, even for situations that do not always call for it. Her and Guy end up bickering a lot and some of that is due to her over-analyzing. They do have a great connection and it is entertaining to see how the lines can sometimes become blurred between a fake relationship and real feelings (a common factor in the fake-dating romance troupe). Due to the setting of the story in the glamour of Nice, France, and the WWII period, it does become a bit more thrilling than the average fake-dating story.

Her mission of gathering intelligence while attending parties and other social events is well done. The writing creates a sense of desperation as Lana wants to do well with her new role while also wanting her revenge. Her kindness and willingness to help others was a well-written trait as the reader feels like this is actually a part of her and not a forced feature to fit the situation or story. The historical pieces of Jewish people being sent to camps, escaping, or hiding were all integrated into this fictional story while maintaining their facts. Her character does fall into the typical naivety of wanting to save everyone even if it is not possible. When someone needs her help, she wants to do anything, even if it puts herself in danger, to save them. Depending on the type of reader you are, this trait might be either a positive or a negative (or even a mix of both). For me, it is a mix as it can be wearing at times as it is fantastic that you want to help others, but if you put yourself in too much danger and something happens to you, then you’re no longer around to continue to help. It is a “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one/few” type situation. Every reader is different though and, of course, will have their own opinions, so take mine with a grain of salt.

Overall, the story takes the good and evil people of the past and transports them to this fictional world where reality and fiction meet to create an entertaining story. The heaviness of the real events from history get some light-heartedness mixed in as pieces of the story bring some levity. The events flow nicely and the writing is easy to follow. All the characters, including the Nazis, were well-written and it’s fascinating to read about those who aren’t always what they appear to be as you mix together with spies, sympathizers, and those who are who they say they are. There is some suspense as you wonder if Lana will accomplish her mission and the story moves forward at a decent pace so you don’t have to wait too long in anticipation. A great piece of Historical Fiction that I would recommend to any fans of the genre, or those just wanting to try it.

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