Plot Summary: The Chateau de Lamorlaye holds secrets. That is what historical contractor Marshall Becker finds when he reluctantly agrees to take on the Renaissance-era castle renovation project in Northern France. But he also finds that some of the people surrounding the castle harbor mysteries of their own, including himself. Who is disturbing the property at night, obviously looking for something? Who is the old man who lives on the historical site? What is it about his employer’s family governess that holds his attention? And what is the WWII story behind this mysterious old castle, involving a girl named Maria, her friend, and the classified program started by the Nazi occupation?
My Book Review: Anytime a plot summary gives me goosebumps, I’m in. That’s the way it was with this book and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I was hooked right from the prologue, which begins with a flashback to WWII. That’s the way the story was often told—back and forth from present day to the 1940’s. Who wouldn’t want a good read featuring a mystery that takes place in an ancient chateau?
I’ve got to say that this story gripped me right through. The characters are well fleshed-out and one can tell the author Michele Phoenix writes from the heart. When I was finished with the book I was intrigued to find that much of the historical setting for the fiction was factual and that the author spent much of her youth at the Chateau in Lamorlaye, France. That adds a whole, richer dimension to things! You can see more pictures and videos about it on the author’s website here. I was pretty excited to see that it was very much like how I pictured it in my mind. I guess that means Phoenix did an excellent job at descriptive writing!
I knew somewhat about the Nazis’ secret Lebensborn program (I won’t give any more spoilers away; avoid video below if wanting to avoid spoilers), but I was interested to know a little more while reading Tangled Ashes. That’s always one thing I like when reading a fictional (esp. historical) book—learning about something new. The story was well crafted in that it was hard to tell where the fiction began.
I’ve read this described as ‘chick lit’, but I disagree here. This isn’t your fluffy romance novel (you’ll be pleased to know if you abhor that genre). Romance really doesn’t factor much into the story; I would say it’s more about flawed characters who struggle and grow during the course of the book.
I will be keeping an eye out for more books by Michele Phoenix, and have at least one other of her books on my TBR. I burned the midnight oil finishing this one, and I’m sure it’ll be the same for you!
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