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 Girl meets boy, boy meets S.S. in this sturdy, sudsy pre- and postwar Nazi gothic. Like other gothic heroines, Sally Jackson is ambivalently drawn to remote, masterful men--her blank ambassadorial father, her radiantly blond childhood sweetheart Christian Mayr, and S.S. chief Reinhard Heydrich, much the most magnetic of the three. Sandwiched between a 1946 prologue and an epilogue--in which sadder-but-wiser Sally, now examining photographs for military intelligence, searches for confirmation that Christian survived the surrender and is implicated in war crimes--a long flashback shows Sally growing up alongside Christian's wholesome Bavarian family, returning to Germany when FDR taps her father to head the legation, finding a fencing coach with Heydrich's help and playing duets with him as he climbs the Nazi hierarchy, asking his help in locating Christian (who naturally turns up on Heydrich's own S.S. staff), dallying briefly with Jewish newspaperman David Wohl, and finally settling into a perilous romantic triangle: Christian, overcoming his initial reluctance to get involved with his general's woman, attacks, impregnates, and marries her, and sweeps her off on a storybook honeymoon, while Heydrich (``You never call me by my name'') plots against them, throwing Christian into prison, announcing that he intends to destroy Sally by making her desire him, and intimating that he's been behind Christian's tender/brutal behavior all along. The predictable climax comes when Heydrich forces her to cross swords with him literally, setting Christian's freedom against her unborn baby's life. A fascinating twist on the premise of gothic romance: it's the Nazis who are responsible for the brooding hero's threatening mood swings. The large readership that the publisher predicts for this naively disillusioned first novel won't mind that the last innocent hour of the ambassador's daughter lasts for chapter after improbable chapter.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-06377-6
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991