Sunday, September 14, 2014

Circle of Spies by Roseanna M. White

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: December 21, 2013

This exciting and adventurous romantic spy novel is the third book in the Culper Ring series from Roseanna M. White. Circle of Spies combines fascinating cloak-and-dagger secrets with a tale of love and intrigue at the end of the Civil War. Baltimore, 1865--Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy... but espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unbeknownst to her, a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union she loves has been meeting in her basement. When she discovers the plots and papers covering her walls, she feels as though she is losing her world. Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to help end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn't just their inner workings that baffle him--it's the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet... somehow not an enemy of the Union. Can he trust her? Will she trust him? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Marietta and Slade stymie the enemy long enough without being discovered to see their beloved country reunited? 

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Circle of Spies is the third installment of Roseanna M. White's Culper Ring series, but don't worry over reading the books in order. I didn't tackle them as written and had no trouble whatsoever appreciating the novel as a standalone publication. 

White's heroine interested me for a lot of reasons. Marietta is passionate, flirtatious and inquisitive, but not flawless. She makes mistakes, is prone to both fear and doubt and not to point fingers, but that's not something I'm used to seeing in Christian fiction. 

Another thing I liked about the book was how natural White's religious message felt within the context of the novel. She introduces her theme slowly and allows it to grow in a realistic fashion which is something I always appreciate, but again, isn't something I'm accustomed to in this genre. 

Historically White does some very interesting things with railroad culture and the Pinkertons, but what really stood out to me was her treatment of Lincoln's presidency and how the war really changed the perceptions and abilities of our nation's leader.

The pacing slowed from time to time and there were instances in which I felt White wandered too far from the central story, but I enjoyed Circle of Spies just the same and look forward to reading the rest of the series. 

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“My brother gave his life for the Union. How can you question where I stand?”
“Your cousin gave his life for the Confederacy in the very same battle. How can I help but question?”
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