A Name Unknown, by Roseanna M. White

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

She’s Out to Steal His Name. Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

First Thoughts:

This is the first in a new series by Roseanna M. White. I presume, from the series title, that it will all be set in the lead up to World War One.

My Take:

It’s May 1914, and Rosemary is waiting to meet a contact regarding a job. In the next couple of pages, the reader is given plenty of information leading to questions such as: Who is Mr. V? How did Rosemary manage to steal a document from the British Museum of all places? What is her history anyway? During the course of the book, some answers will be revealed while others remain mysteries.

It’s difficult to have sympathy for a criminal. White does her best to make Rosemary and her ‘family’ likeable people. They justify what they do and claim to only steal from those who can “afford to lose a bit.” A gang of child thieves is reminiscent of the group from Oliver Twist, although their leader is a sharp contrast to the notorious Fagin. I didn’t think much of Rosemary’s skills either as it seemed she made a number of rookie mistakes, such as revealing contradictions in her backstory. I definitely couldn’t see how the required happy ending would arrive: She’d either be successful and ruin Peter, or she’d fail and probably sent to jail. The resolution is somewhat mind-boggling, and changes what I thought was the premise of the series.

So, what works in A Name Unknown to make it a worthwhile read? Take away the thievery aspect, and there’s a very good tale of suspense. I was fascinated by Peter’s story. Who were his father and grandfather? How did the family have a royal connection? Why is Peter now being targeted with a series of suspicious events? Is it due to anti-German sentiment or something else? Who’s behind the maliciousness? The story builds slowly but the tension, when I experienced it towards the end, was unexpected. Once I felt that, I knew there was no putting down this book until I’d read the very last page.

Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse for my complimentary copy of A Name Unknown, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read A Name Unknown? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 04 July 2017

Page Count: 432

Read more on:   Roseanna M. White’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

A Secret Courage, by Tricia Goyer

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

American Emma Hanson came to England to study at Oxford, but joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force at the height of World War II. She is stationed at beautiful and historic Danesfield House west of London as part of the highly secretive Photographic Reconnaissance Unit.

Englishman Will Fleming is a handsome young artist who has been commissioned by the British government to record the changing landscape in paintings. His path intersects with Emma’s when his real mission—tracking Nazi spies—leads him to Danesfield House, the target of a sinister plot.

Emma and Will become friends, but neither can reveal the true nature of their assignment. Can their relationship grow amid such secrecy? And can Will save Danesfield House—and Emma and her coworkers—before it’s too late?

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed Tricia Goyer’s previous World War 2 novels, and this is about a war location in the UK that I’d not heard of previously.

My Take:

I’m often drawn to historical novels set in my home country, and World War 2 novels often give me a glimpse of what my grandparents might’ve experienced during that dark time. I occasionally learn something new from them as well; I’d not heard of Danesfield House before reading A Secret Courage, although I knew that aerial reconnaissance was a vital part of the war effort.

The opening scene was set in 1940 and showed Will being chased by the London police through the city. Although it was a tense passage, I admit that I didn’t quite understand how it was important to the plot. Readers were next introduced to Emma at her job in 1943, and then Berndt Eldwin who was obviously the bad guy. I couldn’t see where the plot was going, however, until some way into the book. As the tension slowly built, I felt at times like Emma. I didn’t know who to trust. I knew that Berndt couldn’t have been acting alone, but I didn’t guess the identity of his co-conspirator until that person was introduced at the climax.

Although Emma is American, there are several mentions of her mother being British. One description of Mrs. Hanson really stood out to me: that she was someone who “buttered her bread one bite at a time.” I wanted to shout out, “Yes!” It might not seem as anything other than a passing comment but it rang true for me, because this is something I do.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. It isn’t what I would call a perfectly happy ending, but it is one of hope. I thought there were some floating loose ends concerning supporting characters and, since, this is the first book of a new series set during the war, I’d hoped the story of these characters might’ve been continued. It appears, however, that the second book in the series will be about new characters.

Thank you to Harvest House for my complimentary electronic copy of A Secret Courage, which I downloaded via NetGalley.

Have you read A Secret Courage? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Harvest House

Publication Date: 01 April 2017

Page Count: 304

Read more on:   Tricia Goyer’s Website   Harvest House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

The Illusionist’s Apprentice, by Kristy Cambron

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Wren Lockhart, apprentice to master illusionist Harry Houdini, uses life on a vaudeville stage to escape the pain of her past. She continues her career of illusion after her mentor’s death, intent on burying her true identity.

But when a rival performer’s act goes tragically wrong, the newly formed FBI calls on Wren to speak the truth—and reveal her real name to the world. She transfers her skills for misdirection from the stage to the back halls of vaudeville, as she finds herself the unlikely partner in the FBI’s investigation. All the while Houdini’s words echo in her mind: Whatever occurs, the crowd must believe it’s what you meant to happen. She knows that if anyone digs too deep, secrets long kept hidden may find their way to the surface—and shatter her carefully controlled world.

 

First Thoughts:

As a member of Fiction Guild, I received a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice for review. Not that I minded, because I have enjoyed Kristy Cambron’s previous books.

My Take:

The Illusionist’s Apprentice starts with a bizarre scene at a cemetery outside Boston. What happens there sets in motion an FBI investigation in which Wren Lockhart becomes a person of interest. Further mysteries develop when the reader is introduced to Wren’s family through flashback chapters. While the murder investigation is what brings Wren into the life of Agent Elliot Matthews, he is equally determined to break down her walls and discover the truth of her past. This is a romance novel as well as one of tragedy and suspense.

I adored this book. I had trouble putting it down and probably wouldn’t have done so if not for life getting in the way! I became involved with even the characters and my heart sunk when an unexpected twist involved one of them. I thought it was interesting that Wren made a distinction between illusion and magic, and there’s a strong theme of light overcoming darkness. Everything in the narrative built to a breathtaking climax followed by a beautiful denouement. Although Wren and Elliot are fictional characters, I love how Cambron wove in the real and the imagined. Harry Houdini would often debunk spiritualism and attempts to contact the dead, and that part of his career is the focus of this novel.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice was published in March but, if you’re looking for a good summer read I heartily recommend picking it up. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson, BookLook Bloggers, and Fiction Guild for my complimentary copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Illusionist’s Apprentice? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 07 March 2017

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Kristy Cambron’s Website   Thomas Nelson’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com