October 1941. A small village outside Moscow. Serafima bids farewell to Vitya, a Soviet officer going to the front. With only moments left together, she places a cross around her beloved’s neck and reluctantly releases him into a cruel world where nothing is certain, especially whether she will ever see him again.
Days later Germans invade her village and take over her tiny house. Serafima and her mother must comply with orders, endure abuse, and stay put or their village will be annihilated.
As World War II intertwines Serafima’s and Vitya’s life with that of a young German violinist and a Russian intellectual, their destinies are irrevocably altered. Can they rise to the challenge of agonizing moral choices and learn to forgive and love again?
The Cruel Romance is a tale of love, violence, and acceptance as Serafima is forced to live with what the Germans left behind. This compelling story makes for a thrilling read in a setting and time that comes to life, pulling the reader into the vividly drawn, rarely seen world.
Elisabeth Amaral, author of When Any Kind of Love Will Do and Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup