Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Rachel R. Heil’s newly released novel Leningrad: The People’s War as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. This book is the first in the Leningrad series set during World War 2.
“Never been.” Tatiana’s eyes scanned the red and gold decorated lobby until she noticed an unwelcome visitor approaching with outstretched arms.
“Tatiana Ivankova, what a pleasant surprise!”
Josef Krasnoff had dark skin with a hint of a mustache shadow. His brown eyes were protected by his thin, wired glasses that rested on his ears. Strands of his short, brown hair stuck out underneath his cap.
“Josef.” Tatiana forced a pleasant greeting while Vera and Alina exchanged knowing looks, hiding laughs. Tatiana wanted to smack both of them.
Still grinning from ear to ear, Josef stood before Tatiana, who stood up. “What are you doing here?”
“We’re attending the dance.” Tatiana pointed over her shoulder to the ballroom.
“Ah.” Josef looked her over. Whenever something fun was brought up, he looked as though he had become ill.
Looking to remove attention from her, Tatiana motioned to her cousins. “You remember Vera and Alina, don’t you?”
Josef looked at them and nodded politely. “Yes, of course. How are you?”
“Well, thank you.” Vera forced out the words. Like Tatiana, she was no fan of Josef’s.
Seemingly understanding this, Josef refocused on Tatiana. “I hope you aren’t staying out too late.”
“No, not at all.”
Why did she care what he thought? He wasn’t her father or brother.
“I didn’t think you would be in Leningrad,” Vera stepped in. “Aren’t all the Lenigradskaya Pravda writers out at Fox’s Bridge?”
Josef was a reporter working for the biggest newspaper in the city. It had apparently been a dream of his since he was little—to be a writer—though why someone would want to
write propaganda all day long made no sense to Tatiana.
“They needed a reporter to stay behind in case anything happened over the weekend,” Josef replied before shrugging. “I volunteered.”
Volunteered or forced since no one can stand you?
“That was kind of you,” Alina commented when it became clear Vera couldn’t respond without repeating Tatiana’s sentiments.
Oblivious, Josef lifted his head high. “It was something I had no issue with. We live in challenging times.”
“How so?” Tatiana asked.
Josef seemed surprised by her question, but as he always responded to what he probably viewed as stupid questions, he explained, “With the war going on. The Germans have taken
Greece and Crete, and Africa is being crushed.”
“Sounds more like terrifying times than challenging ones,” Vera noted.
Josef’s eye twitched. “One could make that argument, I suppose but have no worries, my ladies. Comrade Stalin will protect us.”
That didn’t give Tatiana and her cousins any comfort.
“Well, we should be going.” Tatiana cleared her throat and forced a soft expression onto her face. “It was good seeing you, Josef.”
“You as well, Tatiana. Let’s not go this long again before we see each other once more.”
Now it was Tatiana’s turn for her eye to twitch. “Yes, of course.”
Leningrad, 1941. As Europe crumbles under the German war machine, the people of the Soviet Union watch. There are whispers of war but not loud enough for the civilians of Leningrad to notice. Instead, they keep their heads down and try to avoid the ever-watching eyes of their own oppressive government.
University student Tatiana Ivankova tries to look ahead to the future after a family tragedy that characterizes life under the brutal regime. But, when the rumors that have been circulating the country become a terrifying reality, Tatiana realizes that the greatest fear may not be the enemy but what her fellow citizens are prepared to do to each other to survive.
As his men plow through the Russian countryside, Heinrich Nottebohm is told to follow orders and ask no questions, even if such commands go against his own principles. His superiors hold over him a past event that continues to destroy him with every day that passes. But, when given the opportunity to take an act of defiance, Heinrich will jump at the chance, ignoring what the end results could be.
Leningrad: The People’s War tells the harrowing beginning of a war that forever changed the landscape of a city, told through the eyes of both sides in a tale of courage, love, and sacrifice.
Rachel R. Heil
Rachel R. Heil is a historical fiction writer who always dreamed of being an author. After years of dreaming, she finally decided to turn this dream into a reality with her first novel, and series, Behind the Darkened Glass. Rachel is an avid history fan, primarily focused on twentieth century history and particularly World War Two-era events. In addition to her love for history, Rachel loves following the British Royal Family and traveling the world, which only opens the door to learning more about a country’s history. Rachel resides in Wisconsin.
Book Title: Leningrad: The People’s War
Series: (Leningrad, Book 1)
Author: Rachel R. Heil
Publication Date: February 5, 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 326 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance