Friday, May 20, 2022

#Review - The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham #Historical #Romance

Series: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Publisher: Avon
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romance / Historical

Norway, 1942. War rages, and operation Shetland bus is in full swing. Under cover of darkness, Rumi Orlstad and other locals smuggle British agents, fugitives and supplies across the North Sea to the relative safety of Scotland.

But when one mission goes awry, and Rumi’s fiance is lost to the dangerous waters, she retreats from the clandestine group, vowing never to take to the seas again.

Meanwhile, her childhood friend Anya has been placed in Lebensborn, one of Himmler’s secret Aryan maternity camps. And when Rumi learns the fate of Anya’s child, she knows she has no choice but to face her fears and help Anya flee from Nazi grip.

Set against the backdrop of a Nazi-occupied Norway during World War II, author Mandy Robotham's The Resistance Girl is the story of the Norwegian resistance movement and shines a light on clandestine SOE group, The Shetland Bus, and the Lebensborn program, Himmler’s secret Aryan maternity camps that resulted in the kidnapping of hundreds of thousands of babies. This book is not just about Rumi Orlstad, it's also about SOE operative Jensen (Jens) Parkes who was raised in England, but has family in Norway in the way of his aunt Marjit Sabo.

Rumi lives in a small Norwegian town of Bergen and her widowed father Peder is a fisherman. Rumi is mourning the death of her fiancĂ© Magnus, who drowned while operating the ‘Shetland Bus’ (the secret special-ops waterway link between Shetland in Scotland and German-occupied Norway) promised herself that she would not get involved but soon does. The Shetland Bus is the amazing true-life account of storms, attacks, danger, and the heroic efforts of brave men. The Shetland Bus continued until the end of the war in 1945, during which time 210 missions were carried out and over 400 tons of weaponry, explosives and other supplies, delivered. 44 crewmen had lost their lives.

Jens is a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who  survived Dunkirk, but still has memories of leaving his best friend behind to die, while he walked away with shrapnel in his leg. Jens drops into Bergen, Norway, where he and his partner Karl are picked up by Rumi. As a member of the SOE, Jens life is literally hanging in the balance. Any wrong move, and he's likely dead. Staying in front of the Germans as they set their explosives, destroying munitions, realizing retribution would be immediate, was a constant challenge. When a dangerous German, Lothar Selig from German Military Intelligence, is able to get a fix on his messages, Jens becomes one of the most wanted men in Norway. The only thing that keeps his sanity is Rumi and her strength. 

The realism in this story comes from both The Shetland Bus, which made a permanent link between Scotland, and Norway after Germany invaded Norway, as well as the Lebensborn program, Himmler’s secret Aryan maternity camps that resulted in the kidnapping of hundreds of thousands of babies. Most Norwegian women have blond hair and blue eyes, which made perfect subjects for the Third Reich and childless German couples.  

The Lebensborn aspect of the story is important to Rumi after her best friend Anya gets herself in trouble and pregnant and she has to work to help her escape to safety. We do get a glimpse of the Lebensborn in Bergen through the eyes of Lauritzens family housekeeper and trusted family companion, Fru Nesse. Her extended family is threatened with dire consequences if she reveals anything of what is now happening in the house. Without spoiling anything, Nesse gives readers a glimpse into what the operation begins with, and how certain characters tried hard to escape knowing what was going to happen to their babies.

The Resistance Girl is very well written and researched story. I actually love seeing different resistance groups in different parts of Europe and how they gave up everything to keep Hitler from taking over the entire world. The romance isn't so strong that it takes up large parts of the story. Jens love for his aunt who is like a mother to Rumi grows on her in the long run. Jens aunt is also a strong character as was Peder and Rubio who lay their lives on the line every day to their beloved Norway.

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