I stumbled upon Tangled Ashes by Michele Pheonix a couple weeks ago and devoured it. It's one of those stories you happen upon only once or twice a year -- the kind that should have a cover blurb reading, "I was written with your specific taste in mind." For me, that's women's fiction set in a superbly written historical backdrop and characters combined of both imperfect and compelling qualities.
I mean, talk about an anti-hero! I adore a well crafted anti-hero, and it was hard for me to even think I would ever like Becker, the anti-hero in this one. Gosh, but he tries so hard I couldn't help it, even though every one of his failures angered me. And Jade, who started off as so easy going, had quite a few flaws in her own character to bring her to life. But the story that really sung was that of Marie, the young French woman working in the chateau who is trying to protect her friend and rescue her friend's baby.
The story of the Lebensborn (Nazi baby factories) in Nazi Germany -- or in this case, Nazi occupied France -- is ripe with intrigue and danger, and the author did a superb job of tangling up my emotions over the women and babies caught in such a plight.
There's some mystery to the story which is a main thread, but that didn't compel me as much as the characters themselves. I would call this an extremely good character driven story, built around a strong plot, rather than the other way around.
I learned, after completing the reading, that the author spent a good deal of her growing up years around the castle in the story as well as experiencing some other things that were included in the story (no spoilers!) and the authenticity of writing "what she knows" comes through. It's a 5-star novel, and I'm a new fan of Michele Phoenix.