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.
Roseanna M. White is one of my favorite authors, so of course I requested her new book. My thoughts:
What I liked
The premise. I’m going to be honest. I was not especially excited about reading about Phillip. But, it’s Ms. White, so I decided to get the book anyway. And I’m so glad I did. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a book as much as this one. And the thing that I loved, was that the book never went in the direction that I expected. Almost every single time I thought I knew where this book was going, it would venture off into a completely different direction. Kudos to the author for keeping me on my toes! While this book does have suspenseful elements and a mystery, it was actually the personal life events in the story that really moved it along. I was invested in the story all the way.
Arabelle Denler. It’s been a long time since I so related to a heroine. And I’m not saying that Arabelle and I are in any way alike. It’s just that she became so real, that her pain was my pain and her joy my joy. Arabelle is lady of grace and wisdom and kindness. And she is not afraid to confront the truth. That is not to say that she doesn’t have flaws—she does. But they made sense and they were a part of her without being her.
Phillip. I thought Phillip would be dark and depressing the whole book. But he isn’t. He’s funny and charming even as he’s trying to cope with some pretty weighty moments in his past. But he was so well-developed that I found myself rereading different passages with him in it.
Romance. This book definitely had my favorite kind of romance: one built on a solid foundation of friendship. There is an honesty and openness and such a lack of deceit in their story that I could really root for them.
Historically, the novel takes place during World War I. White introduces a particularly fascinating facet of the war that I had never considered: diving.
Spiritually, the characters pray for themselves and for one another. There are some really lovely moments about facing one’s past and a message of salvation that I thought was presented well. I always find White’s books to be very encouraging.
What I didn’t like
Truthfully, I could have cared less about the villain in this book. The villain did not detract from the story. I was just so invested in Arabelle and Phillip that I didn’t care about the “bad guy”.
Personal note: I’m not typically a fan of one of the elements introduced into the romance here. I’m not going to say what it is as it would be a major spoiler. However, the author did make it work.
Romantic Scale: 9.5
Overall, I loved this book. I can’t wait for the next one.
**I received a copy from BethanyHouse via Netgally. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**