Book: The Songbird and the Spy
Author: J’Nell Ciesielski
Genre: Clean historical romance
Release Date: Feb 19, 2019
As shells explode over Nazi-occupied France, American music student Claire Baudin is trapped behind enemy lines, struggling to protect her identity. Singing as a barmaid while she plans her escape, a handsome Third Reich captain threatens everything she knows to be true about the enemy.
Nazi Captain Michael Reiner isn’t who he claims to be. A British language expert turned spy, he discovers the truth about Claire, but he knows the importance of a secret. Struggling to resist his attraction to the songbird, he’s determined to complete his assignment, no matter the cost. His cover is threatened when a ruthless female Gestapo officer arrives hunting Resistance fighters. The raid forces Michael’s hand: complete the mission or save Claire.
As the war threatens to tear them apart, they must rely on each other for survival. Is there hope—and a future—for an American songbird and a British spy?
J’nell Ciesielski has written an historical fiction story set during WWII, which is a setting that I enjoy. This one is also a romance which is not what I expect to read about during this tumultuous time, but this one was very good. Claire Baudin is an American who is in France to attend a famous music conservatory. She gets caught behind enemy lines and when her family is taken, she runs, trying to get to unoccupied France. Unable to make it due to an injury, she is rescued by Giles and ends up in a small town working in his local tavern. Unbeknownst to her and the inhabitants, the German Captain who is in charge of the Communications Depot is actually a British Spy. They are attracted to one another, but both are afraid to let the other in on their secret.
There are several tense moments in this well-paced plot. The characters of Michael and Claire are both strong, intelligent and caring. They are also both very attractive, which can be dangerous in a war situation. The characters bring to life the awful realities of war: loss, injustice, espionage, abuse, watching those they love be carted off to the concentration or work camps, lack of food, and the fear that they live with as well as the sadness and despair. I loved the romance that develops between Claire and Michael. It was scary and dangerous for both of them, but they couldn’t help themselves. I do not want to give away anymore of the story, so all I will say is you need to pick this one up and read it. If you enjoy romance and/or WWII stories, this is a book I would recommend. I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit Blog Tours upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
About the Author:
Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days creating heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.
Find out more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
Here are a few bits of trivia for you:
- Songbird was originally titled Iron Shepherd for Michael’s call sign.
- There have been three or four different endings written.
- Michael Reiner was based off of Michael (see what I did there?!) Fassbender’s character in Inglorious Basterds. The actor was born in Germany to German and Irish parents, and later grew up in Ireland J Art imitating life.
- Music always makes its way into my stories and here it takes center stage.
- I’ve always wanted to write a USO story so the ending was my perfect chance to squeeze it in.
- Ilsa von Ziegler was based off of Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones.
- There was a scene showing Michael at SOE training in Scotland, but it was later cut.
- Nazi headquarters in Paris really was located on Foch Ave. The building is still there.
- The molten lead that Michael’s new assistant talks about is a German New Year’s tradition to divine fortune in the coming year. A small bit of lead or tin is melted, and then dropped in water. The form created by the metal predicts the future.
- Chanteuse is a female singer. Edith Piaf, the most famous French singer of all, was known as The Little Sparrow. Songbird and chanteuse are both used to reference Claire and pay homage to Piaf.