“A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White

Roseanna M. White is an author whose books I have enjoyed for quite a long time.  I especially love the way she makes her characters so human and vulnerable while also strong.  “A Name Unknown” is the latest novel I have read and I loved every page.  Rosemary Gresham’s character was conniving, thieving, sentimental, witty and totally engaging.  Her counterpart, Peter Holstein, was characterized humorously as an inattentive, shy, bookworm.

The era in which the story takes place had so many options to write about and I think that Ms. White hit upon the perfect plot.  Before WWI, England was a hotspot for treason and espionage and political sentiment ran high.  Rosemary’s reason for going to Kensey Manor was to supposedly to categorize Peter’s extensive library.  But her real reason for being there was to get the goods on him.  Peter needed to prove his loyalty to England and the crown and needed help doing that.  Whatever else Peter was involved in was there for Rosemary to glean for herself.  I really enjoyed the cat and mouse game these two played and the supporting characters portrayed in the book were convincing and appropriate.  I am anxiously waiting for further novels in this series, Shadows Over England, set in my favorite genre.

I received a complimentary print copy of this book from LitFuse.com.

“Of Windmills and War” by Diane Moody

“Of Windmills and War” by Diane Moody is the story of the men of the 390th Bomb Group, Third division of the Eighth Air Force, a part of the Greatest Generation and a rescue mission called Operation Chowhound.

The story begins 1938 in Chicago, Illinois with Danny McClain instructed by his teacher to acquire a pen pal from a different country, write to him and report on any response received.  Danny draws the name Hans Versteeg from the Netherlands.  The two boys keep up a correspondence over quite a few years until Danny learns from Hans’ sister, Anya that he had drowned in a skating accident.  Danny and Anya keep writing and learning about each other until the Germans overrun Holland and the Netherlands.

Danny’s family is very dysfunctional in that his father is a very violent opinionated man who tolerated no discussion or dissention.  Mostly everyone stayed out of his way.  He had made a decision that his sons would follow in his footsteps and take over his business.  Of course, both Joey and Danny have other plans.  Joey joins the Navy and Danny eventually joins the Air Force.

Anya, family is quite different.  Her father is a minister and her mother, devastated by the death of her son, is no longer a strong woman.  After the Germans invade and their Jewish friends are systematically taken away, the family hides Jewish refugees and Anya joins the Resistance movement.

The story of Danny as a co-pilot of the bog bombers and the missions they fly are as harrowing to read about as I’m sure they actually were.  Anya’s life in the Resistance makes her a very strong individual with pent up emotions that she is afraid to show.   When Danny is shot down over the Netherlands close to the German border, he makes contact with Anya through the Underground.  The clandestine operations of the Resistance are extremely dangerous and deadly.  Reading about this chapter in history is both enlightening and frightening.  The story is well conceived and well written.  It is one of my favorite books.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley.com

“A Letter from Lancaster County” by Kate Lloyd

“A Letter from Lancaster County” by Kate Lloyd is a story that to me is the tale of two sisters…two sisters who envy each other’s lives.  Angela is married with two children, and spends her life pleasing them.  Rose is more carefree, picking the wrong men, wishing for a lasting relationship and children.  Neither one is happy with their lives as they are.

They receive a letter from their deceased mother’s estranged sister, Aunt Sylvia, who is Mennonite.  Aunt Sylvia invited the sisters to visit her with the hope of finding a relationship with her nieces at long last.  Amid many family secrets, which are slow to be revealed, the sisters and their aunt finally come to the place that they can accept each other for who they are and not envy what the other has or doesn’t have.

I found this a rewarding book to read in that family tensions are sometimes caused by false judgements, envy, and a lack of self-worth.  I did not expect the ending, which is good because sometimes I plan in my head what the author probably wrote and it was refreshing to find out I was wrong.

I received a complimentary print copy of this book from LitFuse.com.

“My Daughter’s Legacy” by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould have collaborated on a number of novels.  “My Daughter’s Legacy” is the third book in their Cousins of the Dove series.  This novel is the story of two women, living decades apart.  Nicole Talbot is a recovering addict determined to turn her life around and make something of it.  Therese Jennings lives near Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War.  They are connected by an ancient manuscript which has disappeared.

When Nicole, Maddee, her sister, and their cousins were very young, they came upon a murdered man.  However, when they went to get their parents and returned to the sight, there was no body, no blood, and no weapon.  All these years Nicole has harbored a secret about her grandfather that she is now determined to bring to light.

Therese’s father is an abolitionist living in the South.  Since his passing, and afterwards her maternal grandfather’s passing, she and her mother move to the estate where her mother was raised.  Therese wants her mother to free the slaves on their plantation, but her mother refuses.  Therese decides to leave home and take a job as a nanny in Richmond.  There she is introduced to nursing the wounded along with her friend Polly.  Dr. Alec Talbot, a Quaker, has gotten permission to tend the patients and is their only doctor.  Therese becomes aware that Polly and her cousin, Dr. Alec, may be a part of a spy ring, spying for the Union.  As a staunch abolitionist herself, she wants to help.

This novel’s chapters bounce back and forth between Nicole in present day and Therese in Civil War era Richmond.  What becomes a murder mystery to be solved by Nicole is strongly connected to the plantation where Therese’s family lives.  The interaction between the two time frames is sometimes confusing, but leads the reader to the conclusive end.  This is a very intriguing book.

“His Guilt” by Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray is a prolific writer of Amish fiction.  I have read many of her books and am amazed that she can concoct so many new stories.  What a great mind!

Her novel, “His Guilt” is one that I appreciated very much.  Not only did she tell an engrossing tale, but there was a message to readers in this book.  Judging other people can have lasting repercussions, especially if the person is wrong and just assumes facts not in evidence.

Mark Fisher has returned to his hometown after a couple of years away.  He was questioned in the bludgeoning death of a young girl and found innocent.  However, the community was still leery of him.  His upbringing was less than desirable which also caused suspicion.  Neeta Cain works with Mark at a nursery and at first is as leery as everyone else.  It is her parents who help her see that Mark is a good man.  However, two more young girls are attacked and suspicion falls again on Mark.  The people who count are sure of his innocence, and that means a lot to Mark.

I received a complimentary print copy of this book from LitFuse.com.

“Grounded Hearts” by Jeanne M. Dickson

Every time I read a book, I learn something.  Non-fiction books, of course, are true stories (for the most part).  Historical fiction books tell a story, but the characters, plots, historical references may be changed due to the writer’s fancy.  “Grounded Hearts” by Jeanne M. Dickson is a fictional story of a downed RAF pilot in Ireland.  I was not aware that Ireland was a neutral country in the Second World War.  I was also not aware that downed pilots were interned in a camp for the duration of the war.  Anyone harboring these fugitives was sent to prison.  I found this a fascinating aspect of the war that I did not know.

This is the story of Dutch Whitney whose bomber crashed in County Clare in a marsh.  He and his crew parachuted out of the doomed plane, but Dutch doesn’t know the whereabouts or status of his crew.  He happens upon a house where a midwife lives.  Nan O’Neill takes pity on him and tends to his wounds.  Since he cannot manage on his own, she decides to hide him from the Local Defense Force (LDF). The story continues as Nan and Dutch are involved in keeping themselves free.

Ms. Dickson’s writing served to keep me interested until the last page and aggravated that I could not sit and read this book in one sitting.  I thought this novel touched on something I had not read or heard of and this provided a most interesting read for me.  This book was a wonderful debut for the author and I look forward to many more novels in whose pages I can lose myself.

“Tangled Webs” by Irene Hannon

The third novel “Tangled Webs” in Irene Hannon’s series, Men of Valor was as thrilling as the other novels.  Ms. Hannon has a way of bringing the seemingly innocuous normal everyday life of her characters into the realm of danger, fear, crime and criminals.  The Men of Valor series follows three men in the MacGregor family after their stints in the military as they come home with injuries and mental fatigue from the harrowing experiences of military action.  Finn MacGregor is taking a month off at a cabin in the Missouri National Forest area.  Dana Lewis is recovering from a nasty fall that happened when she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She inherited a cabin and property from her grandfather, so has decided to stay there indefinitely.  Finn and Dana discover that they are neighbors.  When vandalism and worse begin to happen to Dana, Finn steps in as protector.  They both do a little investigating and discover that they can trust no one but each other.

As always, Ms. Hannon gives the reader a thrill a minute read, not to be missed.