IT'S SAGA SATURDAY!! Please welcome the fabulous Natalie Meg Evans...


When asked, ‘How did you get through lock-down?’ I have to admit that for me, it was pretty much ‘more of the same’. Yes, I shopped for my elderly neighbours which added structure to my week, and my dogs got walked further than usual as I made the most of our daily allowance of fresh air. But for the most part, I wrote. In March, I was finalising the first draft of a wartime novel, set in Italy, which at the time was titled, The Orphan of Naples. The weeks from the start of lockdown to the lifting of restrictions in early July mirrored the process of re-writes, editing, proofing, polishing. My manuscript was then given a shining new title: Into the Burning Dawn.

            As in all my books, it’s a tale of a woman’s struggle for love and empowerment. Imogen Fitzpatrick is, as my working title implies, an orphan who finds herself in Italy. Imogen is searching subconsciously for the love that was denied her in the harsh, English orphanage that took her in as a baby. In Naples, as governess to six-year-old Eloisa di Trosini, she discovers a family, a sense of belonging. She also plunges hopelessly in love with Fabrizio Bardi, a motorbike-riding thunderclap of machismo, while ignoring and disliking his staid half-brother, Count Giancarlo di Trosini. When Italy declares war on Britain in June 1940, Imogen’s security, home and future is in chaos. She clings to her dreams, pulled into a brutal struggle for survival while torn between loves and loyalties. Into the Burning Dawn has none of the fashion-focussed storytelling of my previous books. And I have abandoned my beloved Paris though not for ever, I’m sure! I enjoyed a couple of weeks’ August downtime after handed the book over to my new editor at Bookouture, Ellen Gleeson. It’s now ‘head down’ on a second novel, also set in southern Italy.


Into the Burning Dawn is available at


In the terrace courtyard of the palazzo overlooking a sparkling bay, the scent of ripening lemons filled the air. His deep brown eyes gazed into hers with determination and longing. ‘Will you do it? Risk everything and join us?’

Twenty-one-year-old Imogen Fitzpatrick was raised in an English orphanage and never knew her parents. So when World War Two breaks out, she refuses to leave the life she’s worked so hard to build for herself, teaching English to little Marco and Eloisa in the beautiful Italian city of Naples. With their father Giancarlo away fighting for the fascists, there’s no one else to care for these lost children. Imogen’s dark hair and perfect Italian will protect her for now, but if anyone discovers her secret identity as an enemy of Italy, Marco and Eloisa will be left with no one.

As the shadows of bomber planes darken the azure-blue waters of the bay, the one person Imogen can depend on is Fabrizio, the children’s uncle. He’s never seen eye-to-eye with their father, and Imogen is forbidden to speak to him… but whenever they secretly meet in the lemon groves Imogen instantly feels safe. Fabrizio talks passionately of the resistenza, the underground group fighting the regime, and soon Imogen herself is involved – smuggling food along the rocky coast, and even supplying information on Giancarlo to help fight the Nazis and end this awful war.

But when Giancarlo suddenly returns, injured from the fighting, Imogen is shocked to find him much changed. Rather than the fascist sympathiser she knew and resented, she sees in Giancarlo a man who would do anything to protect his children and his beloved Italy. Was she wrong to expose him as a traitor?

Torn between two sides, Imogen’s own life is thrown into terrible danger when a child goes missing and her secret identity is exposed… did she put her trust in the wrong man? And is it too late to save herself, and the children from the horrors of war?

An absolutely stunning and evocative historical read about the bravery of ordinary people in dark times, that will sweep you away to the breath-taking coastline of Italy. Perfect for fans of The NightingaleThe Tuscan Child and All the Light We Cannot See.


Natalie Meg Evans writes historical fiction, usually with a wartime background. She has been on the New York Times and Amazon best-seller lists and is delighted to be published by Bookouture. She lives in East Anglia in a small village, with her two rescue dogs Georgia and Lark.

Get hold of me on Instagram, Twitter, FB and online

Twitter: @natmegevans



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