~ About the Book ~
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?
Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.
But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?
Series: #1 Shadows Over England
Release date: 4 July 2017
Publisher: Bethany House
~ Excerpt ~
“What a lovely home you have, Mr. Holstein. I don’t believe I’ve seen lovelier anywhere in London. Is that tapestry French?”
Did the French even specialize in tapestries? She was as bad at naming decor as she was composers. Holstein, thankfully, didn’t appear any better at it. He shrugged, his lips curling up in a hint of a smile. “All I . . . all I can tell you is th—that it’s r-red.”
Her smile went genuine. “What a keen eye you have.” He chuckled and headed toward a hallway to the right. She followed, forcing herself to focus on the important things—that none of the windows or doors had electro-magnetic alarms affixed to them. So unless he had a vault somewhere, the place was largely unsecured.
Penrose, scowling, held up to walk beside her. Not, she suspected, a friendly gesture. “I trust you come with references, Miss Gresham, even if not an appointment?”
“Of course, sir. They’re in my valise there.” All provided just yesterday by Mr. V, after she’d sent him a note telling him what she needed. They looked genuine to her eye, and she was an expert at spotting a fraud. But it hadn’t occurred to her to make an appointment. It should have.
Penrose grunted. “We’ll take a look once we’re in the cave, if you dare to venture that far inside.”
Rosemary lifted her brows and adjusted the spectacles. They were making her ears hurt. Perhaps they hadn’t been such a smart addition after all. “Are you not fond of libraries, Mr. Penrose?”
“Libraries are delightful. This particular room is more the site of an avalanche of books.”
“Now, Gryff. They are . . . they are not in p-piles. Just st—stacks.”
At the end of the hall, Holstein paused before the final door and drew a breath that looked, oddly, as though it were meant to bolster him. He set his gaze on her—his eyes were a deep blue-green—and inclined his head. “D-Don’t be . . . alarmed, Miss Gresham. There is . . . there is an—an order.”
Penrose grunted again. “No living creature has ever determined it, but certainly. An order.”
Oh gracious. She pasted a smile in place and drew up an image of all those crisp pound notes. All those lovely zeroes to follow, promising her enough income to support the whole family for the rest of the year. They’d be able to get new coats before winter—nice ones. Shoes nearly as sturdy as the ones Mr. Penrose wore. She could make a real Christmas for the little ones. Books for Barclay—new ones, not used. A new bow for Willa’s violin. Paints for Retta. How bad could a library really be?
She had her answer when Holstein swung the double doors open, inward.
~ Review ~
I am completely in love with this new series from Roseanna M. White! And Rosemary and Peter . . . how can I do them justice in a review? You simply MUST meet them, particularly if you have a soft spot for unconventional heroes and heroines—in this case, a skilled thief masquerading as a librarian and a quiet novelist whose speech impediment and German ancestry have driven him to become a virtual recluse in his Cornish manor. Add in the dynamics of English village life and the tensions that simmer as Europe hovers on the cusp of war, and you have all the makings of a wonderfully engaging read.
So. Rosemary and Peter. I absolutely adored them—not just because of who they were, but because of how well they were written and the way they grew through the story. Rosemary has learned to camouflage herself among the upper classes, but she’s never had such a lengthy assignment before and finds it’s impossible to completely suppress her spunk and her unique perspective on life—much to Peter’s delight! But Peter also challenges all of her preconceived notions about wealthy people and about God, and inspires her loyalty, admiration, and friendship in spite of herself and the job she’s been given.
As for Peter, it is impossible not to fall in love with him. I haven’t come across many characters with a stutter before (in fact, the only one I can remember with any clarity, I found exceedingly annoying), but it’s very well done in this story, and utterly endearing besides. Beneath his insecurity and earnestness, he has a delightfully cheeky sense of humour, and if that isn’t enough, his tendency to get lost in his thoughts when plotting his novels (to the point of zoning out mid conversation) had me giggling out loud! And don’t even get me started on his villain, Rosita! Oh, the conversations he and Rosemary had about the qualities of a good villain, all without Rosemary realizing that Peter was an author, or Peter realizing that Rosemary was speaking from experience! It was like being in on one big, glorious in-joke!
As it turns out, Rosemary isn’t the only one wanting to uncover Peter’s family history and prove where his loyalty lies. In hiring Rosemary to bring order to ‘the cave’ (the avalanche of books he hopes to transform into a library), Peter also hopes to unearth documents that will prove his naturalization and his ownership of Kensey Manor. The story beautifully integrates this investigation with the development of Rosemary and Peter’s friendship and a few other sub-plots.
I should finish by saying that I loved the way things came out and were resolved regarding Rosemary’s true purpose at Kensey Manor. Plots that involve deception make me nervous for a number of reasons, but this book handled it well, and without the characters compounding the problem by making more poor choices.
I could go on, but the only way to really do justice to this novel is to read it. Just do it. You won’t be sorry!
I received a copy of this book through TLC Book Tours. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Giveaway ~
TLC Book Tours is giving one lucky reader of my blog the chance to win a copy of A Name Unknown (US/Canada only). Click on the graphic below to be taken to the Rafflecopter giveaway!
~ About the Author ~
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels…to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring.
Peter and Rosemary discuss what makes a ‘good’ villain during this story. Who is a memorable fictional villain you’ve encountered and what makes him/her memorable?