Sunday, July 30, 2017

New Release: A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Shadows Over England #1
Bethany House, July 4th 2017, 428 Pages
Print, Ebook and Audio

Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

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?
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 I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I enjoyed the last series, and the premise of this book sounded very interesting. I’m happy to say that it delivered in almost every way. Rosemary, and the eccentric recluse (who of course turns out to be the author of adventure novels), Peter Holstein were both wonderful, well-drawn characters with realistic flaws and strengths. Londoners are known for being rough tough and often brash, and I think Rosemary’s character portrayed this very well.

I also found the historical background and details interesting with Peter’s German ancestry and connections, and the parts about Rosemary’s life in London. The landscape and landmarks of Cornwall were also well-used in the story, not just dropped in, but used as the basis and backdrop for various scenes. There were times when immersed in the audio version I was almost able to forget that this was written by an American, it came across as so natural. Always a good thing with British Fiction I think.

Almost. There were only a few bloopers in the story, but sadly, they stood out. One was the characters calling the King’s son and heir ‘The Prince of England’, or ‘The Crown Prince of England’. The heir to the British throne is called the Prince of Wales. This has been the official title for the last 700 years, and pretty much everyone in Britain ought to know that. Also, Rosemary describes her unofficial guardian and adoptive father as a ‘Barkeeper’. I’ve never heard of the person who runs a pub being called that before. They’re usually called a Landlord, and there is a difference between a pub and a bar in Britain.

Aside from that though, I loved this story and how the faith elements were worked into it. The whole matter of Rosemary and her siblings being professional thieves might be a bit of an issue, that one hopes can be overcome or addressed. I understand in the next story, it's more related to espionage as a necessary evil. I look forward to reading Willa the violin prodigy’s story in it.

I requested a PDF of this book from Bethany House via Netgalley and purchased the paperback. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

4 comments:

  1. I wondered as I was reading this what you'd think about it! One bit that stuck out for me was when Peter watched Rosemary pick up her fork with her right hand, which struck him as suspicious because she'd said she was left-handed. Well, it was suspicious, because she was eating American-style, not European-style.

    Well-bred people (as Rosemary was pretending to be) would have picked up their fork with their left hand, and their knife with their right. Fortunately, this didn't turn out to be a major plot point because that would have ruined it.

    Also, did they have blueberries in pre-WWI England?

    Aside from that, I always have a little difficulty with Christian fiction that features a liar as a main character, but I think A Name Unknown did a brilliant job of addressing that, and showing Rosemary's character change. The second half was better than the first, and the ending was great.

    Now I'm looking forward to Willa's story as well!

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    1. Ohhh, good point. Yes, I may have vageuly noticed the lack of a knife, although I tend to hold my cultery in the wrong hand as I lack co-ordination.

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  2. I enjoyed your review of this book. I am always slightly sceptical of American authors writing stories set in historical Britain, and am happy when I find ones who manage this well. Happily in this case the story compensated for the occasional cultural blooper.

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    Replies
    1. I know what you mean. Roseanna White is one of the better authors, certainly.
      Sometimes, I almost want to cringe when I read a Regency crammed full of Americanisms, it ruins the credibility of the story.
      Sadly it can also make the authors look lazy, even when they are not.

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