cover image The Songbird and the Spy

The Songbird and the Spy

J’nell Ciesielski. Smitten Historical Romance, $14.95 trade paper (325p) ISBN 978-1-946016-79-9

Extensive research and complex characters enliven this rich romance set during WWII. American musician Claire Baudin’s dream of studying violin in an exclusive French conservatory ends with the German invasion of France. When her French relatives are sent to a Nazi work camp, a brother and sister who run the village bar shelter her while she tries to figure out how to get home to Virginia. She starts helping at the bar with daytime chores and evening concerts, and the German soldiers in the village are delighted by her performances, especially the enigmatic Capt. Michael Reichner. A British spy who infiltrated the German communications outpost, Michael struggles with acting like the Germans well enough to complete his mission, complicated by his yearning to protect Claire from the Nazis. The fear the French villagers feel, and the desperation that drives them to cooperate with the Germans, are masterfully depicted, and Ciesielski (Among the Poppies) balances war’s pain and suffering with tenderness and joy as Claire and Michael learn to trust each other. Readers will devour each moment leading up to the satisfying ending. Agent: Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary. (Feb.)