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Roseanna M. White’s The Number of Love

The Number of Love (The Codebreakers Book #1) by [White, Roseanna M.]

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 who just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the intelligent Margot, but how can he convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amid 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 themselves from the very secrets that brought them together.

Review

I love Roseanna M. White’s writing. I think she is especially talented at writing romance, so of course I had to read this one! My thoughts:

What I liked

Margot. Margot almost stole the show in A Song Unheard. I was so excited that she got her own book! What I liked about Margot was this: she stayed the same. The same girl who was brilliant and a bit odd in the previous novel is the same girl in this book. She’s got her own mind, her own plans, and that makes for a very fascinating character when you know her life is about to be shaken up. She’s not perfect, but she’s completely intriguing.

The courtship. Obviously with such a forceful personality, you need a different kind of romance. The way Drake chooses to pursue Margot was quite lovely. It was quirky and fun, and very perceptive.

Friendship. I really enjoyed Margot’s friendship with Dot. The two girls each kind of have their own social failings, but they manage to balance each other out in all the ways that matter. Watching two socially awkward people navigate a friendship was fascinating.

History. My knowledge of WWI is very limited. Kudos to White for tackling a somewhat untouched field in fiction. It’s quite clear White had done her research and you learn a lot about the spy tactics of the time.

Spiritually, the novel deals with truly knowing God, the importance of prayer, and faith vs feeling. I liked the way Margot knew God, it was different and just pinpointed how a person’s relationship with God is so often, very unique.

What I didn’t like

This is just a quibble, but I wanted a bit more out of the romance…I understood why Drake was initially fascinated with Margot, but I was not entirely sold as to why he remained that way. Their courtship was unusual (which I loved), but I wanted a bit more.

Another small quibble…several times Margot puts down other women because they think and act differently than her. It was her greatest sign of immaturity. And while she does get called on it, I’m not sure she ever truly understands that just because a girl likes fashion and makeup (or whatever) doesn’t make her any less valuable as a human being.

The mystery. I’m sorry, but it failed to hold my attention. This was one book where I was like forget the plot, let’s jump to character development. If there were ever a test on the mystery of this book, I would fail.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, a good book. It being White’s book, I think my expectations were higher??? But still very good.

**I received a copy from BethanyHouse through Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

 

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Lori Benton’s The King’s Mercy

The King's Mercy: A Novel by [Benton, Lori]

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy–exile to the Colony of North Carolina–he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves–and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.

Review

I’m a huge fan of Lori Benton (even if I quibbled a bit…ok so a lot with her last book). I love the way she combines history and storytelling and complex characters to create a layered novel. My thoughts:

What I liked

Alex. He’s a man of conviction and honor. He’s handed a pretty rough deal from the beginning of the book and my heart immediately went out to him. I found him completely fascinating and I enjoyed being in his head…even when he made mistakes.

Joanna. She’s a bit naive and tad bit passive at moments, but she still managed to come across as a heroine who cared (which I actually think can be difficult when your main character lives on a slave plantation). She’s a perfect foil to Alex who at times tries very hard not to care.

Plot-wise, a lot happens in this book. There is constantly something new so that the story never quite slows down.

The romance was something I found to be very sweet and one that made sense even with the class differences between the main characters.

Historically, it was lovely. You learn a lot about the Scottish rebellion against England, about indentured servitude in America, about slavery and the American Indians. At no point, did I feel like Benton entered lecture-mode. Everything she shows the reader, she does with a deft hand.

Secondary characters. Benton created richly layered characters who had their own stories and their own dreams. Alex and Joanna are not the only interesting characters in the book that I wanted to spend time with. Typically, I am not a fan of the main characters being apart in a novel, but in this one, I didn’t mind so much because of the other stories being told alongside theirs (for the most part).

Spiritually, I caught on to the story the author was telling two seconds before I read the Author Note, but once I realized where she was going, I was able to appreciate the story she was telling. There is a big theme of forgiveness here…and surrendering.

What I didn’t like

The “bad guy” is very obvious in a lot of different ways. I kept waiting for some kind of twist, but there isn’t one.

As the blurb states, Alex goes to live with the Cherokees at some point in the narrative. I will admit that after a while, I began to skim this part. There was a lot going on there and at times it didn’t feel relevant to the narrative (like I get what was going on there…character arc and development, etc., etc., but I was ready to move past it).

    This is a more personal problem I had and that is this: while I get the comparison Benton was trying to make between being an indentured servant and a slave, they are not the same thing. At all. Indentured servants came to the table with a history behind them that gave them certain skills and mindsets that a slave didn’t have (especially if they were born into it), a specific deadline, and the ability to put their servanthood days behind them. That is not how slavery functioned in America, so you can miss me with that comparison. Yes, their time was not their own, but seven lousy years is better than a lifetime and broken families. I found myself rolling my eyes a bit at Alex. His life was rough, and he felt the ties of service keenly as he didn’t ask for it, but he wasn’t a slave. That is all.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I enjoyed this book (it did feel very similar to Laura Frantz’s An Unbound Heart which also came out this year though they are very different books). Lori Benton is quite the storyteller and she weaves together facts and fiction so well that I think I will always read her books even if I don’t love every single one of them. She’s a gifted writer and I can’t wait for the next Lori Benton novel!

**I received a copy from Waterbrook through Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**