Claire Baudin is an American music student trapped in World War II France during the German occupation. Her family have disappeared, and she’s now working as a barmaid and pianist in a small town (very ‘Allo ‘Allo, for those of you who remember the 1980’s TV series). All she knows is she needs to hide the fact she’s American, and try and find her way to neutral territory so she can return to America.
Michael Reiner is a German/Irish RAF officer now working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), now serving undercover in occupied France, posing as the Nazi captain of a communications station. Michael knows there is something different about Claire, but doesn’t know what. And he has more important things to worry about, like Isla, the SS agent sent to inspect his station.
I read and enjoyed J’nel Ciesielski’s debut novel, Among the Poppies.
It was set in World War I England and France, and impressed me with the plot, the characters, the Christian themes, and the underlying research. The Songbird and the Spy has many of the same qualities.
However, there were also a couple of weaker areas.
I was never sure why Michael joined the Royal Air Force, given the Irish were neutral in World War II and he was born in Germany. My first thought was that he was from Northern Ireland, but we later find out he’s from Wicklow, in neutral Eire (and was there really an American Army Air Force Base there? That doesn’t sound right).
I also had questions Michael and Claire’s romantic relationship. I could understand why he fell for her, and he was an honourable man, an officer and a gentleman. But I didn’t see Claire developing feelings for Michael. It felt like she went from not liking him to loving him with no real journey. This is romance, and we read for the journey.
The result was a novel which never fully engaged me on an emotional level.
However, there were many strengths in the overall story, and the characters. The Songbird and the Spy is a solid World War II novel with some great research.
Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.
About J’nell Ciesielski
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.
You can find J’nell Ciesielski online at:
About The Songbird and the Spy
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?