Titles: A Name Unknown, A Song Unheard, An Hour Unspent
Series: Shadows Over England
Author: Roseanna M. White
Genre: Historical fiction/Romance
Rating: 4/5 stars
Overview: This is my second venture into a Roseanna M. White series. My first was Ladies of the Manor, and I fell so much in love with it that I’ve been on the lookout for more of White’s books. This series, with its premise of thieves posing as spies just as WWI breaks out, caught my attention, so I thought I’d see if it drew me in as much as White’s other series had. I am happy to say that, for the most part, it did.
Characters: The characters in all three books were well written and fun to get to know. I especially liked Peter and Rosemary from the first book; their relationship has such an intriguing, unique dynamic, and it was always a delight to see them together.
My favorite character in the whole series was Margot DeWilde from A Song Unheard. Being woefully un-mathematically inclined, I have great respect for those who are. Margot’s mathematics didn’t always make sense to me, but it was fascinating to see how she viewed the world and was able to analyze everything. She was delightful, and I wouldn’t mind a book entirely about her.
I didn’t much care for Evelina Manning, the heroine of the third book. She was annoying and whiny and at times insufferable. But she also had her redeeming qualities, which meant the book didn’t earn the same epithets.
Content: All three books are quite clean on all levels. Romance-wise, there are a few semi-described kisses. The biggest one is in An Hour Unspent, with a kiss that goes much too long (it comes in at about two pages). In the first book, a character thinks Rosemary is at Peter’s house to try to seduce him (she’s not). In the second book, a character has a reputation of being a ladies’ man, and though his past relationships with women are discussed, no details are given, and his behavior is treated as wrong. There are several longing thoughts and looks. And in the third book, a particularly hateful old lady insists several times that all husbands are unfaithful to their wives.
Language-wise, there are frequent uses of “blighted,” “blast,” and other distinctly English grumpifications (yes, I did just make up that word). “What the devil” is used a couple of times.
Writing: White’s writing is lovely. Her descriptions pull the reader in; I could easily envision the Cornish countryside, the Welsh streets, and the French fields. I especially enjoy how she likes adding in snippets of non-English vocabulary into her stories; my linguist’s heart smiles.
Summary: My reactions to the two White series I’ve read have been the same: pleased with the first, in love with the second, and a bit let down with the third. As a whole, though, the series was quite enjoyable and one that I might read again. It was charming in its own way, and I enjoyed every minute I got to spend with the characters. Fans of historical romance aged 16+ will find much to enjoy in this series.