~ About the Book ~
Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I–to steal a cipher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.
Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.
But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that cipher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.
Series: #2 Shadows Over England
Genre: Historical Romance
Release date: 2 January 2018
Publisher: Bethany House
~ Excerpt ~
“I have always liked London. I performed there just a few months ago.”
“I know. I was there.” On a catwalk above the symphony hall, where she’d listened for a full hour to him play—as much time as the coin she’d slipped a stage boy had bought her. She’d had to climb down at the intermission and steal back out into the cold winter air.
But it had been worth every dizzying moment of being perched up so high. Not that she meant to tell him that.
From the corner of her eye she saw his head turn toward her. And she felt his smile. “Were you? You should have arranged for an introduction. I would have enjoyed meeting you.”
An incredulous snort slipped out. “I hardly think so, Mr. De Wilde.”
His step slowed, which somehow pulled her gaze up to his. She found his brows knotted into a question. “And why would you say such a thing?”
This was a mercy of the false story Mr. V had created for her—he must have known she would prefer it to pretending to be actually rich. “There were two dukes in the audience that night.” Those whispers had reached even the catwalks. “If anyone were to get an introduction, it would be them and their wives. Not a girl of middling means who only aspired to Highfield because of a scholarship.”
He chuckled. She heard the charm in it, felt it weave itself around her. Felt an echoing anger rumble through her. No one had a right to be so handsome and talented and charming. It set her teeth on edge.
He leaned closer. “I did indeed meet the Dukes of Stafford and Nottingham that night—along with their lovely wives. But I always have time to meet intriguing young ladies as well.”
A laugh slipped from her lips—the kind that was too short to speak of genuine amusement. She couldn’t help it—it was so obviously wrong. “Except, sir, that I am not intriguing.”
“Are you not?” They’d reached the door to the dining room, awash with bright electric light. “I believe I get to be the judge of that, n’est-ce pas?”
“Think what you will.” Especially since she would no doubt fade from his mind altogether once they were out of each other’s company. That was the way of men like him—a way that transcended class and station. Handsome, charming men were all the same. Flirting with a woman long enough to get what he wanted from her, then flitting off to the next. Leaving the poor girl in a state of panic that could last for years. Years. And never once bothering to come back and see if she had survived his leaving.
Sometimes she could still see her mother, searching hopefully through every male face. Never seeing the one she wanted. Murmuring, ever murmuring, about how handsome he was. How he’d loved her. How he’d called her pretty and told her she was the best girl in the world. His girl.
Willa could appreciate handsome faces as much as the next woman—when they were safely flattened onto a poster to tack upon her wall. But in flesh and blood they were suited to be marks, nothing more.
She let go of his arm and didn’t bother looking at him as she made her way to the same chair she’d sat upon last night. She would study him, yes. She would learn where he took his rooms, when he was gone from them. She would take whatever it was Mr. V wanted. She would play his violin later.
And, yes, she would enjoy besting him—because he quite obviously deserved it, thinking as he did that he had only to smile at a woman to have his way with her.
Well, he had never met Willa Forsythe. He had no idea what he was in for.
~ Review ~
Encore! Encore! What a fabulous second instalment in Roseanna White’s Shadows Over England series. History, drama, romance, intrigue, and music melded together in this novel to create an engrossing read that became more and more suspenseful as the story continued. Willa ends up solidly in the sights of four men as she attempts to complete her mission: Mr. V, her employer; Brown, the mysterious German who tries to recruit her out from under Mr. V’s nose; Cor Akkerman, the Flemish refugee who follows her from London to Aberystwyth; and of course, Lukas De Wilde, the renowned violinist, who is intrigued by Willa’s intensity and raw talent. Willa plays an increasingly dangerous game as her loyalties are stretched and pulled and her safety threatened.
Also very much a part of this story are Lukas’s mother and sister, currently hiding in Belgium under an assumed name. Lukas’s fourteen-year-old sister Margot, a mathematical savant, is the sole remaining repository of their father’s cryptology work after the Germans destroyed their home in Louvain, but Lukas has no idea whether they survived the attack. Aside from fulfilling his contract with the Belgian Symphony Orchestra, which is currently touring to raise money for the thousands of Belgian refugees, and unravelling the depths of the oh-so-intriguing Willa Forsythe, his overwhelming concern is locating his mother and sister and smuggling them out of Belgium.
If the plot isn’t enough to draw you in, then the characters certainly will be. They are so sharply drawn and engaging: Willa, stubborn and prickly and hidden behind the shell that has hardened over the years since she was abandoned as a child, but endearing all the same; Lukas, a charming flirt who very quickly turns devoted—if still flirtatious—suitor, much to Willa’s chagrin; and even Margot in her world of numbers and puzzles, living under the ever-watchful gaze of Generalleutnant Wolfgang Gottlieb.
Amidst all of this drama and intrigue, Lukas and Willa are forced to look deep inside themselves, not just at who they are, but at who they could be. As Margot wisely points out, “There always comes a time for change, oui? When you are ready, Jesus will forgive you. … [T]hat is when He can start piecing us back together.”
And I have to add a final word about the way in which music—particularly the way it speaks to Willa—was written into this story. Bellissimo!
My love and enjoyment of this series knows no bounds, and I can’t wait for Barclay’s story!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Previous Books in the Series ~
Read my review for A Name Unknown
~ Guest Post from Roseanna White ~
I started playing the piano when I was 7. I didn’t discover any long-dormant genius or anything, but I liked it. When my sister quit, I kept playing. In middle school, I switched teachers, and moving from the lady at my church that I knew so well to someone who was just my piano teacher made a difference in how I applied myself. It deepened my love of music.
We all know how some random moments stand out forever in our memory. One such for me happened on the school bus. I was sitting with my best friend, talking about the new piano piece I was learning. “Via Delorosa” means Road of Sorrow, and it’s a song that tells musically about Jesus’ journey to Golgotha—ending with the faint chime of the nails being driven into his palms. As my beloved Mrs. Peto went through this song with me the night before, I remember her circling a D♯ that I’d missed and saying how important that note was. That it made the whole line weep.
That it would make the hearers weep. An epiphany so huge I had to share it with my friend. A well placed sharp could make music weep! Who knew?
That was but one lesson Mrs. Peto taught me in how music could evoke things words never could. A woman of strong faith, she also taught me how a song could preach the Gospel. Music can be medicine. It can be hope. It can be tears. It can be truth. Music can be Jesus to a hurting heart that turns its back on words.
This is a lesson I never forgot, and I had it always in mind as I was writing A Song Unheard. In this story, both my hero and heroine are musicians—violinists. But Willa (who is SO STUBBORN) wouldn’t listen to words of faith from any of the people in her life “suddenly spouting such nonsense.”
But then, in her darkest hour, she hears a slip of melody. And she realizes it’s the Lord.
I pray as readers move through the story of Willa Forsythe—violin prodigy and top-notch thief—that their spirits’ ears hear more than words, more than just a story. I pray they hear the Lord whispering that ultimate song. The one that says, “I love you.”
Want to hear the song Willa eventually wrote in the book? You can! The violin music in this trailer is officially dubbed “Willa’s Song” and written specifically for this book. I hope you enjoy it! http://bit.ly/ASongUnheardTrailer
~ 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.
~ Giveaway ~
To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a Grand Prize Package of a signed copy of the book as well as a lovely album of soothing songs based on the Scriptures called Hidden in My Heart (winner’s choice of CD or digital download)!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c72a