The best World War II books with unexpected love stories

Who am I?

I’ve long been enthralled by tales, real and fictional, that transcend the obvious and clichéd. My interest in World War II was piqued years ago while studying in Italy, when our professor regaled us with accounts of the Italian Resistance. Depictions of the “enemy” in fiction are often brutalized, and he is portrayed as less than human, compared with those on the righteous side of the battle. As a romance writer, crafting characters as living, breathing human beings, amidst the abyss of war, became my passion. Conflict is essential to a captivating plot, and what could be more intriguing than pitting heroine against hero in mortal struggle.

I wrote...

In the Arms of the Enemy

By Lisbeth Eng,

Book cover of In the Arms of the Enemy

What is my book about?

Isabella Ricci has pledged her life for the cause – to free Italy from Nazi oppression. Her mission for the Resistance, to seduce a German officer into revealing military secrets, could be deadly. Can she complete her assignment before losing her heart…or her life?

Günter Schumann is handsome, chivalrous, romantic…and a captain in the Army of the Third Reich. When he meets Isabella, he falls for her instantly, never imagining that she is a spy and he her unwitting target. What will he do when forced to choose between love and duty?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances

Why did I love this book?

Tales of enemies who become lovers – whether from warring families or rival gangs – are as old as Pyramus and Thisbe, Romeo and Juliet, and Tony and Maria.

Setting this story during an actual war heightens the tension. This book will draw you in from the start.

Josef Landermann sails aboard a German U-boat, hunting Allied supply ships in the waters of the Gulf Coast. Helen Mason is the embittered Alabama widow of a US Army Air Force pilot killed by the Luftwaffe. How Josef and Helen come together is a remarkable, enchanting true story.

Woven around themes of love and forgiveness, The Heart Mender is a thrilling page-turner that will touch your heart.

By Andy Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Heart Mender as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can natural enemies make peace? Actually...can they fall in love? In his classic storytelling style, New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews delivers an adventure set sharply against the warm waters and white sands of the Gulf of Mexico in WWII America.

Saddened and unable to abandon her resentment toward the Nazi war machine that took her husband's life, Helen Mason is living a bitter, lonely existence. Betrayed and left for dead, German U-boat officer Lt. Josef Landermann washes ashore in a sleepy town along the northern gulf coast, looking to Helen for survival.

As you uncover the incredible story…

The Soldier's Girl

By Sharon Maas,

Book cover of The Soldier's Girl

Why did I love this book?

Multi-layered portrayals, and an absorbing, beautifully penned story shine through Sharon Maas’s The Soldier’s Girl, a novel at once heartbreaking and inspiring.

The protagonist, Sibyl Lake, works as a spy for the French Resistance in the Nazi-annexed region of Alsace. Two men vie for her affection: Jacques, her childhood sweetheart, now a Resistance fighter, and Wolfgang, a German officer and the target of her espionage mission.

Sibyl’s courage, identity, and very soul are forced to the brink as she fights for her beloved land, clutched in Germany’s oppressive control. Maas’s unforgettable characters reveal their humanity – through love and loss – and will abide in the reader’s heart long after the final page.

By Sharon Maas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soldier's Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

France 1944 and the streets are filled with swastikas. The story of a brave English girl behind enemy lines, a German soldier, and a terrible sacrifice…

When young English nurse Sibyl Lake is recruited as a spy to support the French resistance, she doesn’t realise the ultimate price she will end up paying. She arrives in Colmar, a French town surrounded by vineyards and swarming with German soldiers, but her fear is dampened by the joy of being reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jacques.

Sibyl’s arrival has not gone unnoticed by Commander Wolfgang von Haagan and she realises that letting…

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Why did I love this book?

Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See, is set in war-torn France during the Nazi occupation.

In riveting and luminous detail, the narrative interweaves the stories of two young people on opposite sides of the war – Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind French girl fleeing Paris, and Werner Pfennig, a German orphan, ensnared by Hitler’s war machine.

The book is epic in scope, tracing the lives of each character through the decades leading up to, during, and after World War II. Some might question whether Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s is truly a love story, but I’ll leave that for the captivated reader to decide.

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…

April in Paris

By Michael Wallner, John Cullen (translator),

Book cover of April in Paris

Why did I love this book?

April in Paris presents a perspective not often seen in World War II fiction: the first-person account of a German soldier.

Fluent in French, Corporal Roth is assigned to interpret prisoner interrogations in Nazi-occupied Paris. Disturbed by the torture he witnesses, Roth escapes his repugnant duties by posing as a Frenchman when off-duty, attempting to shed his identity as “occupier” by blending in with the populace.

He encounters the beautiful Chantal and ardently pursues her, unaware that she is part of the Resistance. Love ripens between Roth and Chantal, but the outcome spins out of their control, as both are hurled toward the perilous consequences of their affair.

Wallner’s fast-paced novel is more thriller than romance, as human emotion collides with the brutality of war. 

By Michael Wallner, John Cullen (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked April in Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When people on Paris's bustling streets look at Michael Roth, they see little more than a Parisian student, a quietly spoken young man with a book under his arm, handsome but guarded. What they do not realize is that he is carrying a painful secret, one that he cannot even reveal to the woman he loves.

For Michael is no ordinary Frenchman but a German. He has been sent to Paris to assist the Nazis in dealing with Resistance fighters. Desperate to escape his daily life, he steals into the world of the oppressed Parisians, and into the path of…

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

By Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows,

Book cover of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Why did I love this book?

How does The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society fit into my list of WWII books with unexpected love stories?

I was initially drawn to this epistolary novel by the romance between Englishwoman Elizabeth McKenna and German officer Christian Hellman. It appeared to be, like my own novel, a tale of lovers on opposite sides of the war. But as I read on, I realized that there were many forms of love expressed through the various characters, with perhaps the most powerful being the enduring bond of friendship.

With a staunch commitment to each other, the Society members demonstrate an unshakable alliance, evocatively revealed through acts of devotion and sacrifice.

By Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The beloved, life-affirming international bestseller which has sold over 5 million copies worldwide - now a major film starring Lily James, Matthew Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Courtenay and Penelope Wilton 'I can't remember the last time I discovered a novel as smart and delightful as this one ... Treat yourself to this book, please - I can't recommend it highly enough' Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love To give them hope she must tell their story It's 1946. The war is over, and Juliet Ashton has writer's block. But when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of…

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