Barbara’s rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 3/28/22
Period: Gilded age/Victorian – Vienna
Number of Pages: 416
This was a wonderfully crafted melding of two people who are so very different, yet so very much the same. As I began reading, I kept thinking “How will these two get together?” – then – OMGoodness, I couldn’t picture either of them without the other. It is a beautifully written romance and mystery rolled into one. I loved each of the characters in the book – except the villain, of course – and would love to see Maria’s brother and Hanna both featured in future books – together or separately.
Maria Wallner comes from a line of very intelligent and independent women who don’t marry. Yet, they each find ‘the man’, the love of their life who will father a daughter to continue the line. The ladies own the Hotel Wallner, once the premier hotel in Vienna. They hosted the most creative, lavish, fairytale, balls of the Vienna season, but, as Maria’s mother was not a very attentive steward, the hotel has fallen into disrepair. The hotel is now Maria’s responsibility and she fully intends to restore it to its former glory – even if she has to scrub and repair every inch of it herself. She’s been making progress, but ‘accidents’ keep happening that cause damage to the hotel – and almost to Maria. She’s been fortunate enough to be saved each time her life was in danger – will her luck hold out?
Eli Whittaker, an agent of the US Treasury Department, has been sent to Vienna to track down whoever has stolen and sold some US codes. All he wants to do is to track down the traitor and bring them to justice so he can go home and get back to his other cases. However, he has difficulty concentrating on his case because he keeps having to save a beautiful young woman who manages the hotel in which he is staying. Is she part of his case? She will certainly remain a suspect until he can prove otherwise. Still, she is beautiful – and intelligent – and resourceful . . .
While I liked Maria, I loved Eli. He was such a different kind of character that he caught and held my interest from the beginning. He is not your normal ‘romantic hero’, but he is exactly the right hero for Maria and I would have loved to see a bit of an epilogue that takes place five or so years later. I would love to see them with children – boys and girls – and I’d love to see the elegant hotel fully restored and at the height of fashion.
This was a delightful read and I can recommend it. Should you choose to read it, I hope you will love it as much as I did.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.