Circle of Spies is the third and final book in the Culper Ring series, but you don’t necessarily have to read the others to enjoy the last, although I HIGHLY recommend it as you will get connections missed otherwise. This particular story takes place during the last months of the Civil War and full of espionage and tension.
As I prepare to write my own Civil War series, it was a great way to get my mindset in the time period. As always her characters have special gifts that make them stand out. The heroine, Marietta, has a photographic memory. This comes as a curse which she eventually learns to accept as a gift. It truly was a fascinating read with historical details that really got my mind working.
Genre: Historical Romance, Civil War, 1865 – Baltimore
1865―Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy, but the family legacy of espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unknown to her, the Knights of the Golden Circle―a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union her brother died for―has been meeting in a hidden lair beneath her home. Faced with the secrets of her late husband and his brother, whom she thought she could trust with anything, Marietta’s world tilts out of control. Can she right it by protecting a Union agent infiltrating the KGC?
Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn’t just their inner workings that baffle him―it’s the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet…so much more.
Do they dare trust each other in this circle of intrigue? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Slade stymie the enemy long enough to see their beloved country reunited?
What I loved: History is always a big one for me, but I enjoyed then tension and ending action of this one. Everything seemed to go a believable path while still keeping me on the edge of my seat.
Favorite Character and Why: It’s hard to put my finger on one, but Grandpa Thad is definitely still a favorite of mine.
Who would like this? Anyone who enjoy American history, especially Civil War fans. The romance in this one is a bit different, but realistic of two broken people learning to become new in Christ. If you like danger, history, and characters with unique gifts, this is definitely a go to read.
Rating and Why: Four and half stars. I love the history, tension, and action of the story.
This was a particularly fun read for me because I managed to get my mother-in-law hooked. My MIL is legally blind, and doesn’t read for leisure as it is very difficult on her. However, while baking for Thanksgiving, I had this book playing over the speaker while she sat nearby. Friends, she became so engrossed, I wasn’t allowed to listen to it without her. Which led to me showing her how to download my account to her phone and me purchasing an e-book copy so I could continue at my own pace. We ended up having a reading race, and it was one of the greatest joys I’ve shared with her this year.
Whispers from the Shadows is the second book in the Culper Ring series, but you don’t necessarily have to read the first one to enjoy the second. (As proved by my MIL.) However, you will enjoy seeing the characters from the first book reappear and have a stronger understanding of the backstory if you do.
I really enjoyed taking a look at the War of 1812. I had a vague recollection of the war from my long ago studies, but I always just viewed it as the wrap up of the American Revolution. In a way it was, but it was so much more than I remembered. The way Roseanna M. White brought it to light was exciting, enlightening, and engaging. Whispers from the Shadows is a book I will reread and recommend to others.
Genre: Historical Romance, War of 1812 – Baltimore
Treachery causes Gwyneth Fairchild’s world to crumble. The daughter of a British general, she barely saves her life by fleeing London aboard a ship to America. Her goal is to find refuge with the Lane family in Maryland, having been told by her father she could implicitly trust Winter and Bennet Lane, even though their nations are once again at war. After meeting their son, Thad, she wonders how safe she truly is when she discovers that the Lanes trade in a dangerous commodity – espionage.
Not long after Gwyneth finds refuge in his city, Thad Lane experiences the tug of love, though he fears it may blur lines of loyalty. With family playing the part of enemies and enemies proving themselves friends, a future with Gwyn is uncertain. But at this moment, with the British advancing on Washington and Baltimore, they have only their shared faith in God as a shield about them.
What I loved: Besides the history, which is always a go-to for me, I really loved the connection between Gwyneth and Thad. There was just something so unique and special about it. Their relationship drew me in.
Favorite Character and Why: Thad. Without a doubt. He was a man with convictions who followed the Lord’s leading. He was brave, compassionate, a leader, and intelligent. Thad was a hero I could respect.
Who would like this? Anyone who enjoy American history, especially time periods not heavily focused on in writing or in the history books. Readers who enjoy sweet romance, strong natural spiritual threads, and danger-filled stories will want to pick this book up.
Rating and Why: Five stars. This history, the danger, the love, and the hope shared through this book make it one I will reread again.
As has often been the case for me of late, I’ve been so busy that reading fiction has fallen to audiobooks while driving. In desperation for something I could download quickly from my library I reached out the Facebook group Avid Christian Fiction Readers and asked for suggestions. Roseanna White’s books was one of the first to pop up on the responses. Since the library didn’t have the one suggested I went with A Ring of Secrets because of two words: Culper Ring.
For those of you who aren’t aware, the Culper Ring was a network of spies used by General George Washington during the American Revolution, and who doesn’t love a good story of espionage and intrigue. This history buff/danger-craving reader downloaded it in a heartbeat.
Ring of Secrets is the first in a series of three dealing with this Culper Ring, so don’t be surprised if more reviews for the following books pop up. As always, the thing that drew me in was the immense amount of historical accuracy in this story. It was absolutely jaw-dropping the amount of information I learned (and then verified) while reading this book.
The plot line was exciting, while realistic, and the romance one that was well developed. While multiple people vied for Winter’s hand, I never once felt the anger I usually feel with love triangles. Roseanna White handled it in a wonderful believable way that felt right and not like someone got the short end of the stick just because. So Roseanna White, if you’re reading this, kudos! That is an amazing undertaking in my opinion, and your research? AMAZING.
If you like books with espionage, tension, danger, as well as love and a wonderful spiritual thread, you definitely need to pick this book up.
Genre: Historical Romance, American Revolution – New York
Winter Reeves is an aristocratic Patriot forced to hide her heart amid the Loyalists of the City of New York. She has learned to keep her ears open so she can pass information on British movements to Robbie Townsend, her childhood friend, and his spy ring. If she’s caught, if she’s hung for espionage…well, she won’t be. Robbie has taught her the tools of the trade: the wonders of invisible ink, drop locations and, most importantly, a good cover.
Bennet Lane returns to New York from his Yale professorship with one goal: to find General Washington’s spy hidden among the ranks of the elite. Searching for a wife was supposed to be nothing more than a convenient cover story for his mission, but when he meets Winter, with her too-intelligent eyes in her too-blank face, he finds a mystery that can’t be ignored.
Both believers…and both committed to a separate cause. Will their faith in God lead them to a shared destiny or lives lived apart?
What I loved: The history! I love all the historical details and true look into spying during the American Revolution.
Favorite Character and Why: I really did love Winter. Her struggle with her place in her family, what she felt called to do, and the courage she had really drew me in. She made a few decisions I would never had made, but I thoroughly admire her for them.
Who would like this? Anyone who enjoys a thorough reimagining of the American Revolution, its relational difficulties, and the brave men and women who participated in it will find this a refreshing and exciting story. Also, anyone who enjoys sweet romance, strong spiritual threads that are preachy but natural, and danger filled tension, this book is for you.
Rating and Why: Five stars. This history, the danger, the love, and the hope shared through this book make it one I will reread again.
I just absolutely love the books Joanna Davidson Politano writes. She is truly the only first person POV author I can count on to pull me in and never let me go. Her latest release is no different for me in that regard. Though life was busy and I had to rely on taking sips of the story in the car rides in between picking up and dropping kids off, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, the audio was so great, when hubby and I finally had a couple hours alone with nothing to do, I read the print copy as I listened to the audio while cuddled up against my hubby. TV shows just have no appeal when you can be reading one of Joanna’s books. Her lovely complexity of writing and keeping the reader guessing is well displayed and I loved following the mystery of it all. It’s definitely one I recommend and will be giving copies away at Christmas.
Genre: Historical Romance, Victorian England
Raina Bretton is a rag woman in London’s east end when a handsome stranger appears in a dank alley and offers her a glittering smile and a chance for adventure. Rothburne Abbey has a unique position for her, one that will take her away from her hardscrabble life and give her a chance to be a lady. Things she could only dream of might be coming true. But some dreams turn out to be nightmares.
Though Raina has traded squalor for silk and satin, something about the abbey is deeply unsettling. As she wrestles with her true identity, the ruin, decay, and secrets she finds at the heart of the old mansion tear at her confidence and threaten to reveal her for who she really is. Only one man stands between her and the danger that lurks within–and only if he decides to keep her biggest secret hidden.
What I loved: Finding Lady Enderly is a multilayered story. I love the mystery behind the story, the twists revealed, and the spiritual parallels which can be drawn. And who of course doesn’t love Sully? The poor man just wants to love and keep this stubborn woman safe. I’m sure my husband can relate to Sully. I’m always getting into trouble.
Favorite Character and Why: I really love Raina. You understand her struggle and fears, as well as get to grow with her. She really as a beautiful growth arc. And I can’t not mention Sully. The man is the sweetest thing, and hearing his voice on the audio? I still hear his swoony accent in my head.
Who would like this? If you love mystery, subtle romance, and literary connections, you’ll love this book. The way Sully and Raina communicate is absolutely amazing. It makes me want to sneak one of my husband’s books away, mark a page, and underline something to say him.
Of course, he reads ebooks, and the print books aren’t exactly romance, so sigh. I guess I probably shouldn’t underline the threats of death. Not unless, he forgets to pick up the dirty laundry again. 😉
Rating and Why: Five stars. I really love the way you just get swept into the story into another time and place. It doesn’t even feel like you are reading first person, which is an amazing accomplishment in my opinion.
Reviewing collections has always been a little different. This is a novella collection I actually read a while ago and forgot to post about, so it’s been sitting in my draft box for months. I enjoyed having a print version in my hands, just because I’m not a huge e-book fan. Each novella is the kick off for a different series and whets your tongue for other reads.
“Three of Christian historical fiction’s beloved authors come together in this romantic and humorous collection of novellas featuring prequels to their latest series. New and loyal fans alike will enjoy these novellas previously released only as ebooks. Connealy’s The Boden Birthright journeys to the Old West, where ranch hand Chance Boden’s determination to be his own boss is challenged by his employer’s pretty daughter. Hunter’s A Lady of Esteem follows a Regency-era young lady whose chance at love and reputation in society are threatened by a nasty rumor. Turano’s At Your Request tells of a young woman who is humbled at her newly lowered status in society when she is reunited with the very man whose proposal she rejected.” – Amazon Blurb
The first novella, The Boden Birthright, kicks off The Cimarron Legacy with the father’s love story and the hint at a secret that threatens the life of Chance and his children during the series that follows.
“After the death of his wife, prosperous businessman Chance Boden heads west along the Santa Fe Trail with his son to escape the powerful control of his in-laws. He has plans to establish his own ranch, but instead he finds work with Frank Chastain, owner of a vast amount of land.
Chance doesn’t want to work for anyone, but Frank’s beautiful daughter, Veronica, gives him reason to delay buying his own holdings. With winter coming, no home in which to live, and Veronica’s offer to care for young Cole while Chance learns the ways of ranching in the desert, Chance has little choice but to accept the Chastains’ offer to stay on.
When Frank is attacked, his last wish is that Chance marry his daughter, but after dealing with his in-laws, Chance doesn’t want anyone coming between him and his son. Then, before Frank dies, his precarious hold on the land he received as part of an old Spanish Land Grant forces him to make a desperate choice to save Veronica’s inheritance–and also gives the men who attacked Frank a reason to come after his legacy.” — Amazon
The second novella A Lady of Esteem introduced me to a new-to-me author, Kristi Ann Hunter. I enjoyed the story and the lovely twists. I am definitely intrigued enough to check out the Hawthorne House series and follow the brothers and sister I met in A Lady of Esteem.
“Miss Amelia Stalwood may live in London at her absent guardian’s townhouse, but she’s never actually met any nobility; instead of aristocrats, her closest friends are servants. Quite by happenstance, she’s introduced to the Hawthorne family and their close family friend, Anthony, the reformed Marquis of Raebourne. They welcome her into their world, but just as she’s beginning to gain some confidence and even suspect that she may have caught Anthony’s eye, she’s blindsided by an unexpected twist in her situation accompanied by nasty rumors. Will she lose her reputation when the world that has only just accepted her turns its back on her, or will she rest in the support of the friends who’ve become like family and the man who’s shared his faith and captured her heart?” – Amazon Blurb
The final story, At Your Request was a bit shorter than I expected it to be and was a cute story typical of Jen Turano fashion. I haven’t yet read the Apart from the Crowd Series, but it was nice to be introduced to the upcoming characters and get a feel for what the stories will be like. ‘
“After her father lost the family’s fortune, Wilhelmina was cast out of the fashionable set and banished to the wallflower section. Taking a position as a social secretary to help support her family, she’s mostly come to terms with her new status. But when her old friend Edgar returns to New York society for the first time since she rejected his marriage proposal, she’s newly ashamed at how far she’s fallen–and how hastily she dismissed him years ago. Her strategy is to avoid a face-to-face encounter at all costs, but he seems to have other plans. Will Edgar take advantage of their now reversed positions and make her regret her refusal, or is there still hope for a friendship between them–or something more?
At Your Request is an e-only novella that gives an exciting introduction to Jen Turano’s new Gilded Age historical romance series, Apart From the Crowd! Includes an extended excerpt of the first full-length novel in the series, Behind the Scenes.” – Amazon
Overall, I really liked the collection for the ability to get introduced to three new series and to have physical copies of books I wouldn’t have had otherwise. All the e-book are free to purchase individually.
*I was provided a copy of this collection by the publisher. The opinion above is my own and not influenced in any way.*”