Circle of Spies, Culper Ring Series #3
bluebonnet brideIt is 1865, and young widow Marietta Arnaud Hughes will shortly come out of mourning, and it is expected she will then marry her brother-in-law, Deveraux, who has been in love with her since they first met. Marietta is an odd combination of believable and fantastic. Her foibles and weaknesses are both familiar and relatable, but she has a gift, a photographic memory, and can remember every conversation she has ever had and every page of every book she has ever read.
A visit from her grandfather reveals a long-standing secret: that the family is a network of spies, and they need her help, both because of her special gift, and because they believe Deveraux is a leader in a secret organisation trying to undermine the government. But help is at hand, in the form of Slade Osbourne, a Pinkerton agent working for the family rail business. Unfortunately, heÃ¢ÂÂs also too attractive for his own good, and Deveraux is a jealous suitor Ã¢ÂÂ¦
I really enjoyed Circle of Spies. The one fault is I thought there was too much male point of viewÃ¢ÂÂwe got scenes from the viewpoints of Deveraux, Slade and Walker. While each character and scene did add to the overall plot, it just felt a little male-dominated at times (although that was probably a fair representation of the times!).
This is the fifth book in the Culper Ring series, following two novels and two free novellas, all following the Lane family and the activities of the Culpers at different times in American history. All have been good, but this was excellent. The research is excellent (but doesnÃ¢ÂÂt overpower the characters and the story), the story is well-plotted with plenty of twists and turns, the characters are strong yet fallible, and there is a solid Christian message without being preachy. Recommended.
Thanks to Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
April 3, 2014
Different and intriguing Culper spy!
Circle of Spies by Roseanna M. White is the third book in the Culper Ring series. If you are new to this series, it won't hurt anything to read them out of order. I know because I did by accident with the second book! haha I have since read the first book and the free e-book set in between the first and second stories. Plus, there's also a free e-book between the second and third books, too! I love that you can know more about the characters between each full length novel. :-)
Marietta Hughes has been a widow for the past 15 months, and even though she feels sorrow over her husband's death more than anything she feels guilty and ashamed for using him. Not loving him. And worse of all, for all her flirtatious looks to her husband's brother, Dev. But then her grandfather shows her something. Something that shakes her to her core and makes her reevaluate who she is and where she is going. Finally broken and defeated, she humbles herself before God and prays for the strength she needs to face the truth.... Devereaux Hughes, the man she thought she knew and loved is not only a member of the KGC, but he is a prominent leader with his headquarters below her house.
Her grandfather asks her to protect Slade Osborne, a Pinkerton agent who is infiltrating the Knights of the Golden Circle to garner information to aid the Union. Marietta reluctantly agrees and begins to aid Slade whenever the opportunity arises. With her gifted memory, she is able to do much for their cause, but along the way she starts becoming attracted to Slade. With her past, how can anyone good and kind possibly love her?
To me, one of the best parts of this story is the main character. It's not often that you read of a character struggling to be good even when she gets saved so she was a breath of fresh air even though she irritated me to no end at times with her flirtatious ways! lol Seeing how she changed and matured was written very well, and you couldn't help but root for her. I loved the message that our guilt from sin is one of our biggest detriments to growth because we are so bound by shame we can't move forward. Who hasn't experienced that? It's a wonderful story of grace, forgiveness, and love.
I enjoyed the story a lot, but I didn't like the spy plot. It just wasn't as good as the first two. It just kind of plodded along with hardly any suspense which in turn didn't leave me at the edge of my seat. Probably because we already know the ending to the plot the author chose. The characters and their lives were what really brought this story alive. So it's a great regular story just not the best if you are looking for a lot of suspense like the first two.
I was given this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
February 6, 2014
Sparks, spies, and secret societies
In the final installment of her series about the Culper Spy Ring, Roseanna M. White explores the ring's activities during the Civil War. By this time the ring is down to just family, but they are still vigilant in protecting the interests of their country. Marietta gets dragged into it when she finds out her in-laws are not the supporters of the Union she thought they were, but rather are involved in a dangerous secret society, and it becomes her job to help Pinkerton agent Slade Osbourne where she can without letting him know of her involvement. Slade, however, is not sure if Marietta is a southern sympathizer with her dead husband's family, if she is pro-Union with her own family, or if she is playing a game all her own.
Though there are three spy groups operating - the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Pinkertons, and the Culpers, White does a good job at keeping them distinct. Devereaux Hughes is a leader of the secret Confederate society the KGC (a solid bad guy that one can joyfully hate, in an evil and mildly creepy society). Slade is a Pinkerton agent who is pretending to be a Pinkerton double agent for the KGC, when he is really spying on them to take them down. Marietta, the Culper, is keeping an eye on both parties, to help Slade where she can and make sure the KGC does not succeed, while keeping her role unknown to the both of them. I had no trouble keeping track of which party was doing what, which is testament to the author's excellent ability to tell a story.
Marietta surprised me; it is not often the heroine of Christian fiction is an accomplished coquette. She can flirt, tease, and seduce with the best of them, but really she is operating under an oppressive burden of guilt for her fickleness with men, even if she has never broken the letter of the law. She is the sadder but wiser girl - surrounded by wealth, but poor in spirit; free to do as she pleases, but imprisoned by guilt.
A major point the author makes - one pointed at Marietta - is that while forgiveness does not eliminate the consequences of one's sins, that responsibility should not be a prison to one's soul. She writes, "You have prayed for forgiveness from your sins. Have you prayed for freedom from their bonds? . . . Never once in the bible does God speak either for or against physical slavery. But spiritual slavery - that is a topic He addresses time and again. Over and over Paul pleads with the early church to embrace the freedom of the soul that Christ offers. You must do that, Mari. You must cling, not just to cleansing, but to freedom." (228).
Circle of Spies is an excellent novel and I enjoyed immensely, but I wish it were not the conclusion to the series. The author hit on a marvelous theme for the books, and it is sad to see them end. However, she finishes it with a flourish! 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you Harvest House and NetGalley for providing a free e-copy for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
December 15, 2013