Shadow of Death - Miranda Stauffer WWII. A jaded German SS officer. A head strong Jewish resistance fighter. Captivity. Survival. Obedience. Honor. Lust. Rape. Hate. Love. Escape. Betrayal. Guilt. Enemies. Lovers. Shame. Hope. Identity.

In a war that drew a clear cut line between enemies and friends, Shadow of Death blurs the lines between the labels while defining that the key to survival is to trust the untrustworthy. The heroine, Analise, is well written, but the “hero,” Derek, drives this novel. He appears to be an unsympathetic character with bizarrely admirable moments. Or is he of sympathy, but not admirable? Maybe he just appears differently depending on the light. Functionally intoxicated daily, Derek is able to justify all of his actions by quieting his guilt ridden moral compass with another drink. Sober, he is a shame filled, emotional mess - but still lethal. After all, his Nazi drone persona is just a “cover” for his own survival - right? Is the glimmer of humanity intrinsic to him or a guise? Using her deep-seated sense of instinct, Analise attempts to navigate her survival, her attraction to Derek, her fear of Derek and define to herself what she is willing to do to come out not just alive, but sane and with her heart intact.

This isn’t a pretty story. It is as gritty and raw as the war it is set in. Vividly concise in both the depiction of the atmosphere that Stauffer draws the reader into and depth of confused, mingled emotions. This story is like being hurled through a pitch black tunnel toward a glimmer of light you hope isn’t a passing shooting star - but you are not sure it isn’t. If you like your romances disturbingly dark and can handle the horrors of the WWII time period I will assure you that Shadow of Death integrates enough of a quality of hope and humanity to make Derek and Analise’s story compelling.

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