About the Book
Book: The Socialite
Author: J’nell Ciesielski
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: April 14, 2020
Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.
As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them—but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?
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An author friend recently asked for the most romantic line from a book we’d read recently. I couldn’t think of one. Now that I’ve read J’nell Ciesielski’s The Socialite, I have the answer. “Most women would have crumbled by now, but not you. And as long as I’m next to you, I’ll not let you.” (Swoon!)
“For good or bad, family has its way of leaving a mark on you no matter how far you roam.” If I could quote only one line that sums up much of the conflict in this novel, this would be it. Kathleen Whitford has traveled to Nazi occupied Paris to bring home her rebellious, wandering sister, Ellie. Unfortunately, Ellie is running from her controlling family into the arms of a German officer. Kat struggles with Ellie’s behavior, but then Kat begins to realize she herself is desperate to escape her family’s expectations of her. Also desperate to escape secrets is Scots barkeep Barrett Anderson, running from a past threatening to arise from a drunken alley to overtake him. Pawns in a game where the loser forfeits life and/or the war itself, all three are in dire need of escaping the Gestapo.
Ciesielski presents the occupied people, the German conquerors, and the those who mingle in between so well. I don’t read much WWII fiction, and now I remember why not. Ciesielski is not overly gruesome, but just the thought of the atrocities that the Jews or Allied sympathizers faced had my heart beating triple time in terror. Amidst all the double-speak and wondering if the trio could stay out of German concentration camps, I had to laugh when one character well-described consorting with the German hierarchy… “we climb up the social ladder of snakes.”
I loved some history tidbits. Like how rationing caused women to go from silk stockings to cotton stockings to staining their legs with tea. Ugh! Or how the German officers would require only German music be played. So, talented, wily artists would adapt well-known English tunes to mock their captors and cheer their countrymen.
I had to smile, even as I was very anxious whether the three would be found out.
Themes include betrayal, escaping family expectations, and overcoming pride.
One theme, Barrett repeatedly reminds Kat, is that everybody serves an important purpose in the machinery of espionage. No role is more glorious nor less crucial. So reminiscent of the body of Christ, where each has a job, and all are needed, whether they appear so or not.
What I may have wished for: an inclusion of God in the story, and a little less emphasis on lengthy details of kisses. Physical love is indeed powerful, but I like best when it is subtle and hinted at.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. This in no way influences my opinions, which are solely my own.
4 Stars- Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’Nell
I blame Pinterest. Too many hours are spent chasing rabbit holes of glorious pictures of fashion from eras gone by, Highlanders in kilts, WWI ambulances, and fairytale castles. One day I was browsing something super important (or possibly escaping from the actual work I was supposed to be doing, er, we’ll never know) and stumbled across a black and white picture of six beautiful girls. Who are these lovely ladies? I wondered. A quick search brought up the Mitford sisters. Six gorgeous daughters born into an aristocratic English family, each girl with a different passion: Diana the fascist, Jessica the communist, Unity the Hitler lover, Nancy the novelist, Deborah the duchess, and Pamela the poultry connoisseur. Whoa. You know dinner time around their family table was interesting. How could such different personalities belong in the same family? What would you do if your sister got moon-eyed over Hitler??
Bam. An idea was born.
In the beginning, my little rebel Ellie was going to be a full-fledged Nazi ideology lover, but she quickly informed me that it wasn’t so much the Nazis or their crazy ideas she loved, but one man in particular. One twisted Nazi who had fallen completely under her spell, and she under his. The ideas of love can often be more difficult to break as Kat finds out when she tries to rescue her naïve sister. Luckily, she has a hunky Sottish bartender to help her while providing a few romantic intentions of his own. With everyone hiding past hurts and true identities, how will they ever hope to find the love they each long for when war rages under the bright lights of Paris? Guess you’ll have to read to find out 😉
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To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away the grand prize of a book and a book sleeve!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.