A Portrait of Loyalty {a fantastic end to a series}

People! YAY! I get to share another book review with y’all – but unlike the last few where I felt slightly lackadaisical, this book is a for-sure winner for me.

This is the third book in The Codebreaker Series, and if you feel inclined you can read the reviews for the first two books here and here. (I really like this series, just so you know.) If you’ve read any of these books – or the Shadows Over London series – you should let me know in the comments so we can chat!

And now, for the review:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 384
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Title: A Portrait of Loyalty
Fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK

Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams–it becomes a matter of ending the war.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

This is the third and final book in the series, so I went into it with excitement as I’d been awaiting the story for a long time. I’m pretty picky with my series endings, and they quite often disappoint me, so I was a little bit nervous to pick up the book and dive in. Recently I’ve not been in a readerly mood, so most of the books I’ve read in the last few months have fallen short of my expectations, so I was also a little worried. 

Then I started reading. And, Roseanna M. White did it again – she wrote a book that was delightful, fully immersive, had complex characters, and a plot that kept me wanting to read. 

Due to life being really busy I had to read the book throughout a couple of weeks, but it’s the kind of story I could have easily swallowed in one sitting. Every time I picked the book up I was sucked back into the story, eagerly anticipating what would happen next. 

Although the storyline was very interesting, it wasn’t exceedingly fast, which means I was able to get to know the characters and really delve into the time period, instead of just wanting to flip pages as fast as possible. The plot covered the topic of propaganda and (essentially) photoshopping photographs which is something I didn’t realize was happening back during the first World War. That was interesting to read about, and the author did a great job explaining it in an easy-to-understand way that also just blended into the story. 

The characters were ones I enjoyed reading about. I especially enjoyed watching Lily (the main female character) and her sister, Ivy, interacting. I’m one of five sisters and reading a book that correctly portrays a good sister relationship makes me happy. Their bond was so deep and even amid war, they were able to find joy and laughter together. 

While we get to watch Lily and her sister’s relationship, we also get that with Zivon (the main male character) and his brother. (Which is funny because I didn’t realize until just now how the stories parallel each other.) Zivon spends a good portion of the book trying to find his brother – who he’s not even sure is still alive – and we get to see how much he loves his brother.  

Another side of this book was getting to read from the point-of-view of two not-so-great characters. We got to know them a lot better than we normally get to see this author’s “villains” and I enjoyed that and the character arc that they went through. 

CONCLUSION

I liked it a whole lot. I lent the book to a friend literally as soon as I finished it so that she can read it and I can have someone to discuss the story with. 

You’ll get more out of the story if you read the series in order, but I do think this book could be a standalone if you wanted to read it that way. 

RATING

I’m giving A Portrait of Loyalty 4.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy A Portrait of Loyalty from the publishers. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Thank you to the author and publisher for sending me this book!

Historical Fiction for the Win {ON WINGS OF DEVOTION}

THE STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Title: On Wings of Devotion
Fiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

All of England thinks Phillip Camden a monster–a man who deliberately caused the deaths of his squadron. But as nurse Arabelle Denler watches the so-dubbed “Black Heart” every day, she sees something far different: a hurting man desperate for mercy. And when their paths twist together and he declares himself her new protector, she realizes she has her own role to play in his healing.

Phillip Camden would have preferred to die that day with his squadron rather than be recruited to the Admiralty’s codebreaking division. The threats he receives daily are no great surprise and, in his opinion, well deserved. What comes as a shock is the reborn desire to truly live that Arabelle inspires in him.

But when an old acquaintance shows up and seems set on using him in a plot that has the codebreakers of Room 40 in a frenzy, new affections are put to the test.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Did I read the back cover blurb before requesting this book for review? No, of course not. All I did was read the first book in the series – The Number of Love. You can read my gushy review for that book here. That pretty much sums up why I jumped on the chance to get this book for review when I found out the release date.

And good news for you! This book can totally be a stand-a-lone. It will only give minor spoilers to the first book in the series if you read them out of order which is a huge plus. The books contain a lot of the same characters (as well as guest appearances from other series) which will make your heart do a happy dance if you’ve read those other books.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

December was one of my most busy months to date with long work hours and a lot of life happening, therefore I didn’t get to talk about this book as much as I wish I could have with y’all. It also meant I had to separate my reading time to over the course of a week, rather than downing it all in one gulp. And yo, folks, that was hard to do because I didn’t want to put it down.

With her delightful writing style, thoroughly developed characters, intriguing plot, and phenomenal world-building skills, Miss Roseanna blows the reading world away once again with a fantastic book.

Crack the book open and you’ll instantly be whisked away to the world of World War One, viewing life from both the civilian and military side of things. I highly recommend you give yourself several hours of reading time before you sit down with this book, because you won’t want to put it down.

This book was a tale of loyalty, selfless caring, and showing God’s love to others. Arabelle is a nurse who is wholly devoted to helping others – be that a hard-to-love father, a faithless-human-who-I-won’t-name-cause-of-spoilers, her patients, random strangers, and everyone in-between. I’ve always considered myself a loyal person, but am exceedingly thankful that I haven’t had my loyalty tested to the max like Arabelle. Her emotions were so easy to understand and relate to, and I rooted for her the entire book.

Camden – the main male character – wasn’t my favorite character, but I don’t think he was supposed to be. He’s thoroughly written, has highly redeeming qualities (among his black-hearted ones), and has a family who I really liked.

Most of the time when I read a book that changes perspectives I have one perspective I like the best, but in this book, everything flowed seamlessly and I enjoyed getting to see the world no matter who’s eyes I was looking through.

The spying element was different from the last book, and I’m still not sure how I felt about how one of the plot-trains ended, but it was still well-done.

CONCLUSION With Slight Spoilers

SPOILER: From the back cover blurb y’all can assume that Arabelle and Camden are romantic interests in the story, so no spoiler there. My issue with their relationship is that Arabelle is a Christian throughout the book, and Camden isn’t. The Bible talks about how we shouldn’t be yoked together unequally, etc… and so it always bothers me in Christian fiction when this type of relationship is a common element.
END of SPOILER

As for the rest of the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend this series (and Miss Roseanna’s previous series) to anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction or wants to give it a try.

I can’t wait until the next book by this author comes out!

RATING

I’m giving On Wings of Devotion 4 out of 5 stars. I’m so grateful for the generosity of the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it and share it with y’all.

A New Favorite Historical Fiction Book? {The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White}

Y’all. This is the book that I nearly cried about when I found out I’d been chosen to be on the early review team. Yeah, I was that excited and that honored about it. Of course, back then I didn’t realize that I would be in the midst of moving and overwhelmed with a new job and life-ish happenings in the weeks leading up to the book’s release. But here we are! The book released yesterday and although I moved before the physical copy of the book arrived at my old address, I did download an e-copy of the book and landsakes, people!

I settled down with this book and some popcorn on Sunday afternoon and prepared to be delighted as I read. Why was I so excited? Because this book features Margot De Wilde as the main character. Readers were first introduced to this character in the middle book of the Shadows Over London trilogy, as the younger sister of one of the main characters. In that book, she intrigued me like crazy – as in I would say she’s probably in the top five of most intriguing characters I’ve ever read about. And, considering the thousands of characters that have been part of my reading experience, that says a lot.

Before I say more, here’s a bit about the book:

NUMBER

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Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together.

Also, you can take a quiz for the book (after you’ve read it, because #spoilers). I just took it and got 8/10 answers right. I really thought I’d get 100 because the book is so memorable, but one of the questions was guesswork, and the other was a bit tricky. 😉

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This book was gold. The writing, the characters, the plot, and the time period came together in a perfect, seamless, beautiful story that tugged my heart and made me want to keep reading for ages. In fact, although I read this book in two sittings if I hadn’t been hurrying to finish it for review I would have made it last even longer so I could savor the characters.

When I read this book the rest of the world faded away and I was so immersed in the story that it really felt like I was there…that the characters were my friends, that I’d time-traveled back to the early 1900s and England was right outside my door.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much work and research went into writing this book. The concepts were so far beyond me, yet without being confusing. That takes so much talent and time to pull off. Margot, the main character, is a codebreaker who works in Room 40 during WW1. I knew about codebreakers during WW2, but until I read this book I had no clue they existed during the Great War. (Which is why I mistakenly assumed that this book took place during WW2 when I first heard about it.)

Margot is a mathematical genius and thinks in numbers. She’s logical, scorns emotions, and is unlike any other character I’ve ever read. I seriously couldn’t get enough of her character and wish we had a whole trilogy solely from her perspective. The way she reacted to grief was my favorite scene in the whole book, simply because I can’t even fathom doing what she did, and it totally shocked me, but was so true to who she was as a person. Plus, it made me tear up, and books that make me cry are the best.

Drake was the second main character, and although I generally don’t like it when the main female and main male character both have chapters from their perspectives, Miss Roseanna pulled it off perfectly. I think this is because although there was romance in the book, that wasn’t the main plot and when we saw life from Drake’s perspective we were actually seeing espionage work, not just fluff. Seriously, his work was so cool and when I read in the endnote how much of it was taken from historical facts, I was pretty amazed. Also, Drake is just a wonderful character all around and he’s got a fantastic name, so what’s not to like?

And then we have the bad guy. Seriously, y’all don’t even know how much I dislike it when books have sections from the villain’s point of view. And yet, somehow Miss Roseanna makes it work. She gave us just enough time inside the villain’s head so that he became real and intriguing, yet without giving too much away or making me feel creeped out. I’m very impressed.

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When it comes to books, this is one of my favorites. As in, it’s so close to being five stars that I’m really not sure if I should rate it four or five stars? (And y’all know how rare five-star fiction books are for me.) My one issue is that I really didn’t agree with a lot of  Margot’s ideals. I understand how she was changing and growing, and yet the book felt a little more feministic than what I like.

Other than that though, this book was simply fantastic. I hope y’all read it and enjoy it as much as I did. If you’ve read the Shadow Over London series, or if you plan on reading this book you should totally let me know so we can gush about the stories together. 😉

Way to go, Miss Roseanna, on writing another winner! Please keep writing and thank you so much for the honor of having me be part of your review team!

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Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.