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?
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's fiction ranges from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.roseannamwhite.com.
Read an Excerpt
A Name Unknown
By Roseanna M. White
Baker Publishing GroupCopyright © 2017 Roseanna M. White
All rights reserved.
London May 1914
Rosemary Gresham may have been a thief, but she was a thief who preferred to work in broad daylight. Pulling her coat more tightly around her middle, she stopped in one circle of streetlight outside the park and looked toward the next. Perhaps it was that she knew all too well what could hide in the darkness. Perhaps it was because she had spent too many nights overwhelmed by it as a child, huddling in a dark alley and praying to a deaf God that her parents would live again.
She ought to have protested when Mr. V designated this meeting place at such an hour. Ought to have ... but hadn't been quite that brave. She had completed two successful small jobs for the man before, but she still knew nothing about him. Nothing but that he paid promptly, in pounds sterling. That he was of average height, average build. That he spoke with the careful cadence of a man who had worked hard to obliterate his natural accent.
A hack drove by, the horse's hooves clip-clopping. One street over, an automobile rumbled along. From a flat somewhere nearby came the smell of cooking onions ... and the sound of raised voices. Rosemary drew in a long breath and walked toward the next light. Not so quickly that she would look afraid. Not so slowly that she would look lost or without purpose.
She didn't like the dark, but she knew how to use it as well as the next thief. Without so much as a flinch or start, she stepped outside the circle of golden light, summoning a tight smile. "Mr. V."
He stood beside a darkened bench. As he had during their meetings, he wore a bowler on his head, a crisp tie under his coat. His clothes were of good quality but without the flair or ostentatiousness of those with more wealth than taste. The hair peeking out from under his hat was a silver-gold that spoke of age and ... heritage?
Rosemary's stomach went tight. He could very well be a German. Not that she had any particular loyalty to her own country, which had ground her under its very heel — but she had more loyalty to it than to any other, she supposed.
Mr. V stretched out an arm to indicate the bench.
She approached it but declined the invitation to sit. He wouldn't, and she wasn't much for being hovered over. Were it any other client, she would have issued a sharp, quiet Make this quick.
Such words were unnecessary, she had learned, with Mr. V. He acknowledged her denial with a nod and reached into his inner pocket. A moment later he pulled out an envelope identical to the other two he'd given her in the last year.
Rosemary took it, extracted from her handbag the letter opener she'd brought for just this occasion, and slit the top of the envelope. The sheet of paper inside contained the name Peter Holstein and a direction in Cornwall. "This is where I'm to go?"
"Indeed." Mr. V had folded his hands in front of him now and looked carved from stone, yet somehow completely at ease. "I need you to gain access to his home and discover his loyalties."
She tucked the direction into her handbag, working hard not to let her puzzlement show. "Need I remind you of my expertise, sir? I am no mind-reader. I get things."
"And the thing I need just now is information — are you telling me I've hired the wrong girl?"
Her shoulders edged back. He paid well, she reminded herself. And promptly. "It's simply not where my experience lies. I'm a thief, not a spy. You'll need to tell me what exactly I'm looking for."
With a nod, Mr. V slid a step closer, no doubt so he could speak in a whisper. "Mr. Holstein has the ear of the king. Certain parties are most eager to ascertain whether he is filling those ears with ideas for or against Germany."
Which parties were eager? English ones or German ones? But she didn't ask, just nodded. "So you need ... documents?"
"Hard evidence proving him a traitor to England. We cannot move without hard evidence, you understand."
There, then, a physical thing. Papers. Letters. Telegrams, perhaps. Things. She could deal with things. "Right."
"They could be in German — you read it, I understand. That is why I've come to you."
The hair on the back of her neck stood up. How would he have known that? How could he have? She'd only learned it to complete that museum job three years ago. Had he somehow been behind that one too, and she'd not known it?
If so, he hadn't paid as well as he had been lately.
And she couldn't afford to ask such questions. Certainly couldn't afford to mention the missing manuscript from the British Museum. If he didn't know, it would be a fool thing to tell him. It still ranked as the biggest job she had ever pulled off — well, she and Barclay.
She simply nodded in response to his question. "I apparently have a bit of a knack for languages. It won't be a problem. How long have I?"
Mr. V nodded as well. "You should plan on going to Cornwall within the fortnight. Take however long you need, but be aware that if war is declared, we must act quickly. When that eventuality comes to pass, you will have but days to get me the documents. Send them to the same direction you did last time." He held out a second envelope. "You will need appropriate clothing, no doubt. And perhaps other supplies. Contact me for anything you require."
She took the second envelope and opened it. Her eyes bulged. One hundred pounds — twice what most people made in a year. Twice what he'd paid her for the last job. "You're paying me up front?"
"That, my dear, is just a down payment. Pull this off and there will be another nine hundred coming."
"Nine ..." A thousand pounds. She'd never dealt with a number that large, with so many zeroes. The things the family could do with that much! She swallowed, nodded.
Mr. V took a step back, where the shadows cloaked him again. "A good-faith deposit, Miss Gresham. Assuring us both of continued partnership in the future. I have many more tasks for you after this one, if you can pull this off."
More coming? Tamping down a smile, Rosemary turned. No farewell, no more questions. She knew better. When someone hired her, it was because they needed her particular set of skills, which meant they lacked them on their own. He wasn't the one to help her think of how to accomplish the task. But she knew who would.
Though she listened for them, she didn't hear his footsteps move away. The heels of her pumps clicked on the bricks of the walk, though, as she left the park and strode down the familiar London streets. The nearest tube stop was just ahead, around the corner. She hurried toward it, mind whirring.
She couldn't think of those unnamed future jobs, not yet. She must focus on this one. How was she to gain entrance to the house of a wealthy gent? Apply for a position, perhaps? But no, then she would answer to a housekeeper. She needed a way in that would leave her independent. And yet gain her access to all his private papers — a tall order indeed.
She bought a ticket at the counter, turned away from the booth, and headed for the platform. Shadows lurked there too, but she ignored them and let this newest puzzle crease her brow. She needed to learn more about Holstein. About his house in Cornwall. The answers usually came with enough research.
A jerk jarred her shoulder as someone caught her handbag, yanking it off. Perhaps most women would have cried out in alarm. Rosemary instead caught the strap with reflexes born of necessity, spun, and prepared to deliver a punch to the would-be mugger's jugular.
Until she caught his outline in the bit of lamplight that reached them. "Georgie! What the devil are you about?"
The young man — not a day over seventeen by her estimation, though he hadn't a clue as to his actual birth date — gave a sheepish laugh. "Oh, Rosie, I didn't realize ... is that a new hat you're wearing? It changes your look."
She jerked her bag out of his hand and scowled at him as she fancied a mother would. Her voice pitched low. "And what are you doing out here, haunting the tube station this time of night? We've talked about this. You'll get nothing worth getting at this hour."
Georgie shrugged and looked away, hands in his faded pockets. "I had no luck earlier, so ..."
"So if you're determined to change that luck, you —"
"Miss, are you all right?" A stranger jogged her way, the glow of the streetlight casting his frown in gold. He wore a frayed jacket, had worn spots on the knees of his trousers. If he carried anything in his pockets, it wouldn't be more than a few shillings. Not worth the effort of picking them — which she had told Georgie repeatedly. Apparently this bloke had an inclination to be a hero, though. "I thought I saw this lad attack you."
Rosemary smiled and tucked her hand through the crook of Georgie's arm. "Just my brother joking with me, sir. Though I do thank you for your concern."
The stranger paused a few steps away, still frowning. Glanced from Rosemary to Georgie and back again as if searching for a confirming resemblance in the low light. Apparently he decided he had no reason to doubt her word. With a nod, he moved off.
"Hmm. I could pick him easy enough. Do you think he —"
"No." She took her arm from Georgie's and then gripped his elbow to steer him away from the station. "We don't prey on the poor; they're in worse shape than we are. How many times must I tell you that? If you want to change your luck, Georgie, you have to know where to focus your efforts." She paused at the edge of the walk and nodded across the street, to where a hired cab was parked. And had been since she got off the tube to meet with Mr. V. "I've seen a gent go inside that building before. He stays for about an hour and then leaves. Always uses a cab, but he's well dressed."
Georgie breathed a laugh. "And I bet a pretty miss has a flat there, eh?"
"No doubt. You want a worthwhile mark tonight, little brother, you wait for him to come out. I bet his wallet is fair to bursting."
With an enthusiastic nod, Georgie said, "I can do that. Thank you, Rosie. And, ah ... are you heading to meet the family, then?"
Rosemary loosed his elbow and folded her arms, well able to imagine what would come next. "Let me guess — if I would just not mention this little mishap to Barclay ..."
"He'll be cross and put me on division duty again, and you know how I hate numbers."
She rolled her eyes upward, to where stars probably shone somewhere beyond the foul air and glowing lights, though she couldn't recall seeing more than a stray twinkle here and there. It would serve Barclay right if she let slip how much he hated divvying up the week's take, after the way he lorded his elected position of head of the family over the rest of them.
But no. They were careful about keeping the balance of authority right. It worked well enough to have the young ones hold their older brother in awe. "All right. This time. But learn the lessons you're taught, Georgie."
"You're the best, Rosie." He leaned down with all the enthusiasm of youth to smack a loud kiss on her cheek and then scurried off into the shadows.
Rosemary sighed and turned with a shake of her head to wait for the train. Georgie always made her feel so blasted old, though she had only seven or eight years on him. But the really young ones ... she and Willa were old enough to be their mums. How had that happened? Where had their own youth gone?
The wooden platform rumbled, a fair warning that the train approached. Rosemary queued up with the other few passengers still out and about, Mr. Would-Be Hero among them.
Perhaps the better question would be whether she'd even had a childhood, not where it had gone. Only the most shadowed of memories remained to tell her about her parents, about what it had felt like to wake every morning in the same bed and know that someone who loved her was just down the hall. Then came that confusion of waking one morning, feeling sick and confused, and realizing she was all alone.
She shook away the memory before it could take her stumbling down the hall to discover her parents. Shook it away and took a seat on the familiar train, smoothing down the tweed of her skirt. She'd sewn it herself, carefully following the guidance of the pattern in Mode Pratique until she had a garment that looked professionally tailored. That made her look, to the eye of those arrogant marks milling about London, like one of them.
As if she would ever be one of them. As if she would ever want to be.
Mr. Hero nodded her way, but his gaze didn't linger. Married, she would bet, and happily so. He'd have been out late for legitimate reasons. Working, most likely, to put meager food on his meager table, determined to live the honest life and provide for his family. He'd have a babe, given that white stain on his shoulder. Perhaps an older child too, if that was a jam stain on the side of his trousers.
Holstein — whoever he was — probably looked far different. If he had the ear of the king, then he sure wasn't scrounging around the factories for work, with barely two pence to rub together. No doubt he was of the ilk that she and the others had learned to mingle with ever so briefly at the galas they sneaked into. So rich he'd never notice the absence of a few pieces of jewelry or pounds sterling. His nose so high in the air that he couldn't be bothered to look down it long enough to see the people all but starving in the streets.
"Hello there, Jonesy." Another bloke sat beside Mr. Hero, nodding toward the newspaper he — Jonesy, apparently — had pulled out. "Anything good today?"
Jonesy sighed. "More about the tensions in Europe."
The newcomer sighed. "Blighted Germans. If that Kaiser Wilhelm ever showed his snout around here, I'd —"
Jonesy snorted. "If he did, it would probably be to pay a visit to his cousin the king. Certainly not to see you, Percy."
Percy echoed the snort. "Cousins ... why is it that every blamed monarch in Europe is the cousin of every other blamed monarch? 'Tain't right, if you ask me. All this intermarrying. And making it so we have a German on our own throne."
"Now ..." Jonesy's face somehow softened in one respect and hardened in another. Though to be sure, Rosemary studied it only in the reflection of her window as the train chugged off, not outright. "I reckon he's as English as you or me, Perc, excepting that he's traveled more'n either of us ever could. Just his name is German is all."
"You know, I heard tell there was talk of him changing his name from Saxe-Coburg. Can you believe that? To something more English-sounding. That'll be the day."
Jonesy chuckled. "I remember Granny talking about how old Queen Victoria had to have a team of researchers just to figure out what her surname was. How do you suppose he'd go about changing it? To another family name, do you think?"
"Maybe. Who's to say? Surely there's an Englishman in his lineage somewhere."
Lineage. Rosemary pursed her lips. Was that something this Holstein might be concerned about too? Quite possibly, in a day when his very name shouted an allegiance that he no doubt didn't want it proclaiming, wherever his loyalties lay. Perhaps that was her angle.
Her lips twitched up. Wouldn't Barclay and Willa think it amusing if she could steal a bloke's very name? Retta would laugh until her sides hurt. And Lucy would get that look on her face, the one where her mouth was a perfect O.
Jonesy folded his paper as the train slowed again for the next stop — her stop. She could have walked, and would have had it not been dark. But this time of night, it was worth the two pence to ride.
The other man leaned his head back. "You read where that author fellow — Wells? H. G. Wells, that's it. He accused King George of being uninspiring and foreign."
"Did he really? What did the king have to say?"
Rosemary stood, handbag clutched in her hand, knees bent to steady her as the train screeched to a halt. The doors opened, and she stepped off, barely catching Jonesy's reply.
"Said he may well be uninspiring, but he sure as blazes wasn't foreign."
Rosemary's lips curled up as she stepped off onto the tube platform and hurried away. The king had certainly been born and bred in England, there was no disputing that — but what of this Holstein? She'd have to figure it out. Barclay could tell her where to go looking for such information. Probably — unfortunately — some library somewhere with newspapers archived.
Excerpted from A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White. Copyright © 2017 Roseanna M. White. Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by Roseanna M. White. I have read a few of her books and knew this one would be just as fabulous. The plot was original and well thought out. The characters were well developed and lovable, well except for the villains of course. Rosemary Gresham is a thief in London and is hired to steal a man's identity; to prove he is a traitor to England. When she meets Peter Holstein, she isn't sure the money is worth the lies she would have to tell to "prove" him a traitor. Rosemary is hired by Peter to clean of his atrociously messy library in the hopes of finding evidence that he is a citizen of England and to prove he is not a traitor. In the meantime, Rosemary hopes she finds the opposite so she can bring home the big, fat payroll from the mysterious Mr. V. This is a wonderfully written book centered around events prior to WWI. Rosemary is quite a character and shows herself to be quite resourceful in bringing Peter's library, and his life, to rights. If you love intrigue, history, and romance, then you will love this book. Enjoy! I won this book and was not required to provide a positive review, but I do so voluntarily.
A story to get thoroughly wrapped up in without even realizing it. Rosemary is from a world of orphans and thieves in London. Peter is from a well to do family of property, and a friend of the King of England. Rosemary isn't a simple thief, she's more of a grifter. She's quite intelligent and is hired to act as a librarian, go to Peter's home and find proof that he's a German spy. But he's not a spy. He has a personal reason for being somewhat reclusive, and his ancestors were from Germany. He’s a Gentleman, and Rosemary and her “family” have learned not to trust Gentlemen so it makes it easier for her to take the job. Peter believes that he was born in England, but those records are not easy to find, since his family saved every bit of correspondence over the years and their manor home has a huge room full of books – many with his family in them. Rosemary has earned a reputation as being the best at what she does, and Mr. V comes to her for the job at Peter’s house. She taught herself German for another “project” and learned in a short amount of time how to act as a librarian. It's interesting that Rosemary doesn't try to make up a story about herself, but instead talks of her "Family" by name. It's Peter who is keeping something well hidden. There's great depth to the story that while you become more endeared to the unveiling of the characters, it gives you much to ponder. A layering of mysteries, spies and danger that keeps you hooked. Also one of the best laid out lessons of becoming a Christian I’ve read in a novel. Excellent read that you will love every minute of. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Bethany House Publishers - Netgalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.
A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White is the first installment in her Shadows Over England series. What a beginning! Rosemary Gresham is a thief from the streets of London, hired to determine if wealthy Peter Holstein is loyal to England or Germany. She poses as a librarian to gain access to his home. It’s the start of World War 1 and tension is running high. Ms. White wove a highly entertaining story. I loved the fact that it was set in a huge home library. I would love to spend my days there. I stayed up late to finish the book. Peter was the perfect hero. I loved how he interacted with the other characters. And when he finally convinced Rosemary that God loved her was the perfect ending. I can’t wait to read the next book. I highly recommend anything written by Ms. White.
Ahhh this book!! First of all, the characters!! They were all so distinct and well developed, and they all have such interesting backstories! Rosemary is a orphan who seems to have mastered the 'art' of thievery. Master of disguises, she is able to fit into high society in order to steal valuable things. Although she dislikes reading, she disguises herself as a librarian to investigate Peter. She is there to organize his library (which is very soothing to read about!) and they learn to communicate, despite Peter's speech impediment. It also portrays friendship very well. Peter's friends are his very best friends, and they stand beside him and advise him of everything, and Elowyen is simply adorable. In the same vein, Rosemary's 'family'/friends are absolutely to be adored! This book doesn't fit the Christian Fiction stereotype at all, and it is very refreshing! There is a romance that happens, but it feels natural and although a bit rushed, it feels like it was meant to be. In addition, the plot twists keep the action interesting. The character development throughout was also amazing to see! The gospel was also very clearly presented, which is not something people usually see in Christian fiction either. The one downside to A Name Unknown is that it's over 400 pages, and it's a little bit slow in the middle, but it is so worth it! My Rating- 9/10 Points earned- Cute, adorable, well developed characters Libraries and writing Interesting back story to both characters Mystery and suspense Adorable side families Great portrayal of friendship Not too much romance Christianity and gospel very well presented British talk!! *heart eyes* Points lost- A little bit slow in parts and on the long side Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a free physical copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion; I was not required to provide a positive review. This post originally appeared on: https://rockandminerals4him.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/book-review-a-name-unknown-by-roseanna-m-white/
A Name Unknown is a book after my own heart for so many reasons. A writer hero; a librarian heroine; an English setting; a cover with books on the front; a wartime background; and two leading characters who are beautifully broken and redeemed by Christ's love and each other. I could not have asked for a more perfect book, and once again Roseanna White has proven why her stories remain among my favorites. White's books are ones I read regardless of whether or not I know what the story will be about, but as I was familiar with the blurb for this story, I was called foremost to it because of its complexity. Each of the three previous stories I've read by this author were complex--one of the many reasons I enjoy her books so much--but A Name Unknown upped the ante in how White tied mystery, history, intrigue, romance, and faith into one plot so well. Every piece of backstory, every nuance described in the moment, every thought the characters had to themselves came together to show redemption, solve a mystery, and help the characters grow. I prefer novels that are longer and in-depth, so for A Name Unknown to be a lengthier story for these reasons pleased me to no end. My favorite aspect of A Name Unknown is the soft blending of history and romance. I'm an Anglophile, so I was thrilled to come across actual people and historical instances of British history in this book--especially in one scene where the Prince of Wales and hero Peter have a humorous moment with the heroine. I loved being immersed in the fiction world while experiencing through Peter and Rosemary what it must have been like to be in the throes of pre-World War One Britain. As for the romance, I'd yet to read a novel with such a slow burn of attraction and relationship-building until I read A Name Unknown. This romance was beautifully written, and oh how that build up in the scene where the characters experienced their first kiss. That was a perfect example of how a chaste relationship can still be full of attraction and how just a subtle nod to the physical can be satisfactory on the page or screen.
Some authors are good writers. Other authors are exquisite writers. Roseanna White is one such author. A long time fan, I was smiling before I even flipped to the first page. Her books are the kind I think about months after I put them back on the shelf, remembering each sweet or suspenseful moment, lingering over the memory of love and loss, heartache and healing, mystery and romance. Both Peter and Rosemary are delightfully unconventional characters. A thief and a stuttering novelist? Yes, please! I greatly enjoyed a break from many of the stereotypical heroes and heroines, and am completely enamored with the way she crafted them. Her description was especially brilliant. I could hear Peter's stuttering when he was distressed and Rosemary's Cockney accent slipping through when she was angry—she did an excellent job with interspersing just enough of both so as to define their personalities, but not enough to overwhelm the reader. And Peter. *sigh* Did I mention Peter? He's giving Brice from The Reluctant Duchess a run for his money as being my favorite Roseanna White hero. Ah well, I suppose I can two favorites. Right?
I am totally in love. This book clutched my heart from the beginning and hasn't let go, even though I've finished reading it a few hours ago. Ms. White is an amazing writer. I knew that already and she is one of my favorite authors, but she never ceases to amaze me with each new book she writes. Her writing is absolutely wonderful. The dialogue is convincing and flawless and extremely humorous. The rich European history at the core of the plot's premise is a fascinating gem under the beauty of the prose. The setting is somewhat familiar and not quite so as Ms. White takes us on a journey through the countryside of Cornwall at the cusp of WWI. The plot itself is unique as a highly skilled thief (and a woman, to boot!) is thrown together with a stuttering reclusive novelist as all of Europe swirls into war. And the characters! Oh my. They're so real and tangible. Peter Holstein is a man after my own heart. Such a true gentleman, faithful to God and his fellow human beings, gentle, funny, intelligent, creative, thoughtful, loyal, loving. His outward appearance is not much and, yes, he stutters. But who could not love this man?!?! And there is Rosie Gresham. An orphan and a thief. Yet there is a tender heart underneath that tough exterior that seeks to love and be loved. She's as loyal as you can get, extremely creative and bright, able to learn things quickly, compassionate but also practical. There is a mystery regarding a whole slew of secondary characters. There is plenty of suspense as Rosie tries to unearth Peter's ancestry. And there is a solid component of faith, salvation, and redemption woven into the story, especially as Rosie gets to know Peter better. What a delicious book that has all the components - romance, mystery, suspense - wrapped up in terrific writing and unforgettable characters! And the twists and turns in the plot will keep everyone guessing as to what will happen next. Can't wait for the next book in the series!! I borrowed this book out from the local library. I was not required to write a review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
Would it be cheating to just say "Read it, it's awesome?" Yes? Ok, then. Let me start by saying I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher and am not required to write a positive review, but I am going to anyway because as Mikey always said "I really like it!" Roseanna blends together two different world, classes, viewpoints, faith outlooks, etc. beautifully in a story that teaches both main characters that we're never to old or young to learn and there is almost always a compromise if we allow ourselves an open mind and heart. I could not put it down and was constantly drawn to the "what comes next?" That said, it broaches on war, and while it does get into some of those elements, it is not overwhelming to the story. You can feel the constant tension and the uncertain future, and I think just a little taste of what life would have felt like full time during that time period. I'm eager to see where Roseanna takes the family.
In Roseanna White's newest release, A Name Unknown, she gives us a riveting, unique plot helmed by realistic, engaging characters, including two of her most charming yet. While the book moves at a slightly slower pace than some of her other stories and is longer, pagewise, than most, Roseanna's initial "foundation-laying" for the characters is something you'll appreciate as the book moves along. Peter Holstein has an immediate vulnerability with a stutter that has left him insecure and guarded around people, but not unfriendly or unkind. His relationship with God has given him an inner strength that allows him to remain solid and secure in the storms he faces throughout the story. While he may not feel like the dashing hero he longs to be, or like the one that he writes about in his popular adventure novels, his humble, giving heart draws Rosemary. Rosemary Gresham herself is, as Peter describes her at one point, “delicate when it suits (her). Strong…always.” Growing up as a thief has taught her to be tough, wear a good mask, and to humor they share is pretty adorable, blossoming sweetly as they find a shared mission. As always, Roseanna White weaves the spiritual journey of her characters so well and so convictingly that her words become ministry in the midst of a great read, and A Name Unknown is another wonderful offering of Roseanna’s gifts that I know the Lord will use and one that you’ll enjoy as well. Note: I received an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest opinion. My review is only based on how much I enjoyed the book.
A powerful book which I loved. Teaming up an author and a thief quite a combination. All forgiven by God. The one a shining witness of God's love and forgiveness. The characters became so real and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.
“Shot in Darkness” by Heather Sunseri is the fourth book in the In Darkness series. While this is much shorter than the other novels, considering a novella, this will only leave the reader wanting more. This time Brooke isn’t even on a case, but we deal with Romeo. In fact, we finally learn who he is! FINALLY! Brooke is also struggling with deciding whether or not she wants to commit to Declan and to Kentucky. While I completely understand her reasoning, it was kind of annoying to see her deal with that for so long. I enjoyed that. Hopefully, she sticks with this decision and doesn’t decide to change her mind later. The romance is super cute. This book does contain one non-graphic and short pre-marital sex scene but is overall done well. There is also some bad language and drinking wine here and there so I would only suggest this series for older teens and adults. Overall, I really enjoyed this read. When I first started reading, I wasn’t planning on finishing it in one sitting, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing. This is indeed a fast page-turner. I need the next book ASAP because I need more! Highly recommended! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Great inspirational and historical novel by Roseanna M. White! A Name Unknown is the first book in her new series Shadows Over England. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more stories in this series. Rosemary Gresham has no family to claim except for the mismatched bunch of street urchins that have helped her survive since she was child. They've left the petty theft behind and have moved on to bigger and better crimes that target the upper-class society, but Rosemary is questioning staying in this lifestyle when she takes on the task of of stealing Peter Holstein's family history and name. I was given an ARC from the author/publisher. All conclusions are mine and mine alone.
Roseanna's books are always must-reads for me (as in, as soon as they're out of the package, I start reading). Of course, Roseanna did not disappoint! I loved getting to know street-smart Rosemary and quiet, bookish Peter. This book gave a fascinating look at life in England just prior to WWI, and an illuminating look at how hard it must have been to be a loyal British subject with a German name during that tumultuous time. I can't wait to read Willa's story in book #2 (A Song Unheard) and see what happens next! *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
I was totally intrigued by this story the moment I heard about it and first saw the cover. That curious fascination stayed with me through the entire book too. This was the first book by Roseanna White I’d had the privilege of reading. Now I understand why readers are always singing her praises. Rosemary was a strong character from the get-go and her gritty determination and bravery stole the show for me. I loved the natural conflict that arose from our heroine being a thief. She does what she must to survive and in the process discovers who she really is beyond the orphan. She’s passionate about her family and her work. It’s no surprise our hero is drawn to her. Peter is endearing throughout and offers a warmth to the story that otherwise contains some heavy topics in dark places. His nervous stutter made him down-to-earth and his mysterious secrets carried the story and its twists nicely. There were a few moments when the pace seemed a bit slow for me, but other than that I really enjoyed this historical fiction. The romance is light and the friendship is sweet. You might even be surprised at the ending. I know I was. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. I received a free copy from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.
With a mystery to solve and characters to champion, A Name Unknown is a delightful read! Rosemary Gresham and Peter Holstein are refreshingly unique in their characterization, and I loved the humor and wit of the banter they share. A cleverly crafted story line that combines elements of suspense and romance, White treats readers to a wonderful Edwardian experience. Engaging and entertaining, A Name Unknown leaves me eager to continue the Shadows Over England series! I received a complimentary copy of this book. No review was required, and all thoughts expressed are my own.
I loved A Name Unknown because it is so fresh and different. The first historical in White’s Shadows over England series, the plot takes place amid the background circumstances that eventually lead Great Britain into World War. Rosemary Gresham, a librarian by day and a thief by trade, finds herself troubled with her new employer. Peter Holstein is a man so private that people either love him or hate him because no one really knows what he’s about. Historically complex but not overwhelmed with historical details, White creates a story of private people struggling to make decisions that have the power to influence the fate of a nation. With fabulous characters and a complex plot, White weaves a masterful tale of suspense and fear, regret and loss and ultimately redemption. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White for my candid review.
In her last series, Roseanna M. White vaulted to the top of my automatic-read list of authors with her historical settings and vivid characters. I was also eager to read this novel because it is first in her new series and features a novelist as the hero. A book about a writer? Yes, please! The cast of characters is quite unique in this novel: a stuttering, secret novelist, an honorable spy-thief, a cranky barrister, a precocious young lady convinced she'll marry her uncle one day, and a whole family of orphans we only begin to know. And while the first two maintain their lead status within the book, each of the secondary characters are also well developed and help to populate the story, adding depth and texture to the plot. My faith was also strengthened by this novel—especially in regards to prayer. Sometimes that encouragement stemmed from Peter's written words and others from a memory he calls to mind, but each piece builds firmly upon Scripture and gives insight into the human experience that only wants to believe what can be seen with physical eyes. There is also a fair amount of social justice in here, with characters doing what they can to help others, simply because it is the right thing to do. I love how one person, in particular, gives in secret even when society knowing about his deeds could make his public life easier. In many ways, this book reminds me of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey because of the discussion of novels, but this time from the writer's perspective rather than the reader's. I appreciate how this book makes me think about reading and writing in different terms, questioning character motivations and whether this villain was smart enough for our somewhat unconventional hero and heroine. Several times I found it a bit mind-bending, to be honest, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ways this novel forced me out of my reading box and helped me think about the products of an author's imagination in different ways. This beginning to White's new series is absolutely outstanding and ranks among my favorite for both storyline and characters. I recommend it very highly, especially for those who enjoy historical romance, but readers of suspense, mystery, and historical novels in general, will doubtless find a new favorite writer after reading this novel. I received a free copy of this book from the author and publisher but was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed are both honest and my own.
Having read some of Roseanna M. White’s previous novels, I knew I was in for a treat with A Name Unknown. The cover is absolutely beautiful, and the premise was so fascinating. I loved the setting in Cornwall and London directly before the beginning of WWI. White’s descriptions and attention to detail are superb, showing obvious extensive research. The main characters, a stuttering novelist named Peter Holstein, and a talented thief named Rosemary Gresham, seem unlikely associates, but they are so vividly drawn and endearing that I was totally captivated by them and their story. The messages of redemption, forgiveness, and faith woven throughout the book added further dimension to it. Roseanna M. White’s talent for crafting a unique, memorable story makes her a favorite author of mine. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy clean, historical romantic fiction. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.
THIS book. Strong heroine? Check. Sweet, realistic romance? Check. Faith Content? Check! I had read only a couple of Roseanna M White's before this one---which I liked, by the way. However, this one tops them both so that it shines in a brilliant, sun glaring light. (Not REALLY, so no worries. Eclipse glasses are not needed for the viewing of this book.) I loved the heroine of this story. She was witty, mentally strong, and street smart. She could take care of herself, and yet was still feminine. This is a balance that I think book heroines need to have more of, and Miss Rosemary Gresham is a prime example. Also, her story of redemption was sweet.
What a thrilling beginning to what promises to be an exciting trilogy! I love Roseanna White's stories, and her brilliant blend of mystery and intrigue with a sweet romance. I just adored Rosemary! She smart, capable, and just loves her family. She is willing to tackle any challenge in front of her, almost like a chameleon, but even a thief can have morals. Then there's Peter. Oh, adorable Peter. He's not your typical hero, and it makes him perfect. He's got a good heart, and a good ear, ready and willing to help his friends, especially prominent ones. But, with war looming, he has to find a way to prove his loyalty or risk facing being branded a traitor. Throw in a recluse author of thrilling adventure stories, a library just filled to the brim, including all floor space, and a mysterious employer with questionable intentions, and this story is a great read, and I cannot wait for the rest of the series!
"Peter . . . tried not to be so impressed by a too-thin woman with a manner as inviting as a steel trap." (108) And how could one not be impressed? Not only with our main heroine, Rosemary, but the novel, A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White as a whole. This is the first of the Shadows Over England series, and I just can't wait for the rest! Be still my heart is right. A Name Unknown has everything a booknerd like myself want in a story. "Rosemary Gresham may have been a thief. . .." (7) Yes, even first lines that makes you go "hmmm." Who would've thought our heroine is a thief? The intrigue continues. Rosemary is resourceful, but it's Peter that captured my heart. "You're a blighted genius with brilliant ideas that people can't help but find intriguing and a gracious heart that presents them in a way that make you endearing rather than off-putting. You are a picture-perfect friend. "(185) And his friend I want to be. Once you meet him in A Name Unknown, trust me when I say you want to be his friend too. Why? Because of his complete goodness. It radiates out of him, and not just to those around him in the story, but right off the pages and straight into our hearts. The characters are just splendid and I look forward to meeting them again in the next novels. Then there's a matter of this: ". . .the room behind it (the door) bore a name he loved above most others - library. (28) The chamber stretched the whole width of the house. Shelves lined the walls, floor to towering ceiling. Lined with books, all of them. Then with books tacked in front of them. Books stacked on the floor. Books stacked on the chairs, the tables, lining the windowsills. Boxes of them. . ."(42) How could we just not fall in love with this book. I'm sure the gorgeous cover gave it a way a bit, but the words in this book utterly took my breath away and had me glued to it until the very end. Speaking of the cover, the books yes, but it was the model's expression that was simply perfect in catching a reader's eye. You'll want to read this book from the cover itself, but it's the story that confirms that you haven't made a mistake. A Name Unknown, hit all the right marks, including the beautiful message of self discovery, not based on gender, past, occupation or whatever, but just your heart. It was not preachy at all. It's a dose of revelation, as well as a nudge of guidance that we all need from time to time. "God will hear. He does not always answer in the way we want, but He always hears - and not just me. He hears anyone who comes to Him in humility. Anyone who is willing to let go the idea that they can fix it all on their own and instead submit to His will. That is when people see Him work. That is when miracles can happen. That is when lives are forever changed by His touch." (155) In all, A Name Unknown has it all. It's perfect with a little mystery going on, great characters to fall in love with, a romance that is so unlikely that it's so worth it, humor (check out that scene when Rosemary put Mrs. Gladstone "in her place"), and a message that shines beyond. Be still my heart it is. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
Here’s the thing. This book isn’t a surprise on every page. And yet it is. I could have told you from the synopsis almost everything that would happen. None of it was a surprise. But you know what? It all was. Roseanna White is that good. The characters, the plot, the twists, everything—I called them. I think anyone could, really. But Ms. White sends you on a journey through this story that makes you surprised at what you already expected. That is some seriously good writing. She gives you just enough description to hold you in place but without so much that your senses are overwhelmed with it to the detriment of the story. Characterization? SPOT ON. I loved what she did with all of the characters. They were perfectly imperfect, wonderfully original, yet relatable and sympathetic. But the spiritual element is what I want to focus on most in this book. Ms. White does a beautiful job of showing a man whose heart is completely in the hands of the Lord, who is a “good” man because of the Lord, and a flawed man because of himself. She shows faith and love for the Lord as interchangeable elements of trust in Jesus—of yielding our wills to His. And she does every single bit of it so naturally, so beautifully, that not once did I rush reading through it. I lingered, absorbed, savored. Historical anachronisms? None. Boring bits? Nada. Critique? Only one. The next book isn’t out yet. I think what is so beautiful about this book is that it opens with an unreliable narrator and closes with that problem solved. Recommended for everyone who just loves good fiction. As for me, I’m dying to read the sequel.
This book was an amazing, beautiful writing and compelling to read with this series of the drama upper-class romance and this series also giving us to adventure, explore and learn about the historical Christian life of during World War I, that engaging a lovable of characters. If you discovery all this story it will taking you to the most of the loved exploring to the hearts and minds of these characters from two very different worlds and finding where they’d have common ground. I highly recommend to everyone must to read this book. “ I received complimentary a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for this review. 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 series set in Britain. She makes her home in the breathtaking mountains of West Virginia.
The beginning of a new series is always exciting, especially if it is from a favorite author. A Name Unknown is the first book in the Shadows Over England series from Rosanna M. White. It's an historical fiction series that is set during the World War I era. The overriding theme is that of redemption. The heroine is a thief and feels as if there is no other recourse for herself and those she cares for. The hero also leads a secret life but much more upright than that of the heroine. They both need freedom from the trappings that have ensnared them. But freedom can only come if they are willing to risk telling the truth. I enjoyed this fictional journey with these new characters. The setting is fascinating and the details kept me quickly turning the pages just to see how it was all going to turn out. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment even though I know that war is brewing. This is a complete story but I look forward to seeing where it goes from here. Will the rest of the family be redeemed? I certainly hope so! If you like a book that builds as it goes then this book is for you. As the story unfolds you find out more and more about the characters and the background that lead up to the characters being where they are and what shaped them. The backdrop of impending war leads to the need to quickly solve the mystery. It was a quick read that left me wanting more . . . in a good way! I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
I couldn’t put down this fantastic, fast-paced, story! From the very beginning, I found myself fully immersed in Rosemary’s story. Filled with mystery and intrigue and woven with golden threads of the truth of the matchless love of God. Rosemary is an easy character to cheer for. From the very beginning, I felt deeply for her plight and cheered as she began to learn who God really is, and how much He loves her. Rosemary is searching for clues that will prove that Peter is either loyal to Germany or to Great Britain. Will she find what she is looking for in time? Peter is a bit of a recluse, hiding away in his study typing on his typewriter all day. Peter is more comfortable with the characters in his stories than his neighbors in the village. Being of German descent, and the fact that he spends most of his time hidden away, leads some to question his loyalty. Could the active imagination of his neighbors, and the talk in the pub lead to his downfall? This book is one that you will not want to miss. With an amazing library that book-lovers will appreciate, a mystery to uncover, and the strong threads of faith, I highly recommend this delightful page turning story! (I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)