When Twilight Breaks – Sarah Sundin

When Twilight Breaks Sarah Sundin
When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin
Also by this author: The Land Beneath Us
Published by Revell on February 2, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Historical, Suspense, Romance
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Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country--or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she'll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed--and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party--to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.

This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.

Evelyn Brand had done a crack bit of journalism, and she hadn’t even had to dress like a man to do so. – This is the first line of Sarah Sundin’s WWII romantic thriller When Twilight Breaks and it only gets better from there. Evelyn is a woman working in a man’s world. Her journalistic voice is continually throttled by the misogyny of the day, topped off with a editor who seems all too eager to twist her words to paint Hitler and the Third Reich in a positive light. She’s in search of the next big story (and let’s just say that 1938 Germany has lots of big stories to tell), when she meets Peter Lang, an American Ph.D. student studying German/English and techniques for removing a German-speaker’s accent.

Peter’s story seems a bit intricate and far-fetched, but it’s actually based on the real-life research of Sundin’s grandfather, John Ebelke, whose professional work includes a textbook called Foundation Course in German and an article called “An Experiment with Recording and Playback Machines in Academic Foreign Language Training.” But unlike real life, the fictional Peter Lang finds himself caught up adjacent to the Nazi party as the Nazis realize how useful Lang’s training could be to their spy networks.

Peter is ambivalent about the rise of Hitler and authoritarianism, echoing a perspective that many in the US had at the time about the German nation and their struggles to recover from the devastation of WWI. Peter’s initial assumptions that his position as an American and academic, as well as his family’s wealth, would insulate him from any issue. That begins to change when he meets Evelyn Brand and begins to see the dark underbelly of the Nazi party be exposed.

Evelyn has continually walked the tightrope as a journalist, accurately telling the stories of Germany, while also being respectful of German authority. But her stories keep getting twisted to positively glowing praises of Hitler, something that she didn’t know her editor was doing. As she fights for her voice to be heard, it soon becomes a literal fight when the Nazis perceive her as turning on them.

Evelyn and Peter find themselves bound together and on the run, desperate to get out of the country, chased by the enemy, and in possession of a list of spies embedded in prominent American positions. The remainder is a rollicking journey of survival that never slows down until it all finally ends.

When Twilight Breaks is the perfect blend of historical suspense and romance. Sundin captures the setting well, giving the reader a good understanding of pre-WWII Germany and the naivete and/or complicity of some Americans. Evelyn is a well-written character and her romance with Peter is almost an afterthought—as well it should be when one is running for their lives! Sundin’s historical detail absolutely astounds, while the book’s pace ensures that readers are never left bored.

The best historical fiction manages to put you in an unfamiliar world but make it seem familiar. Sundin does that with resounding excellence, keeping the reader engaged and oriented even amid the richly written historical detail. A large part of the book’s theme deals with American reaction to Germany and the leadup to war. Sundin accurately captures the variety of perspectives, along with the difficulty of journalists to accurately portray Hitler’s atrocities without being thrown out of the country or killed. Entertaining, pulse-pounding, with space to ponder some deep questions, When Twlight Breaks is Sarah Sundin at her best.