About the Book
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?
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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.
Wow, this was one incredible story! I tend to read a lot of historical fiction including many that are set during WWII. Even though they tend to break my heart, the perseverance and hope that the characters cling to engrosses me in their stories. The Songbird and the Spy has a unique storyline which is just one of the reasons I couldn’t put it down.
Claire is an American who found herself in the wrong place when the war broke out in Europe. Trapped in a country that’s not her own with no one beside her, she stumbles upon a couple that are willing to take her under their wing. They are the owners of the local bar and teach her how to work in it while being fiercely protective of her despite the company that enters their establishment. It doesn’t take long for them to be more like family than mere friends. In a time where people were frightened into suspicion of anyone and everyone, it was touching to be able to see a relationship like this develop in spite of the terror around them.
I loved Michael’s character. I won’t lie that I often wondered how he wasn’t discovered to be a spy, but I didn’t envy him for the position he was in. As someone with a level of command over enemy soldiers, he had to make his role believable while sharing their secrets as a spy. Dealing with all of that while falling in love with a mysterious barmaid certainly makes for an interesting story.
Not to say that it’s enjoyable to read about war shootings, but the events in this story felt more real because of how they played out. The concept of “only kill if you have to” was mixed with the duty to protect. Often when reading Christian fiction, authors will avoid killing from the protagonists’ side at all costs. While it’s a nice thought, it simply wasn’t a reality. It wasn’t glorified, but there were a few scenes that involved gunfire from both sides. I appreciated the author’s willingness to go down the difficult road of reality while remaining sensitive to a hope for less violence.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and highly recommend it! The setting and characters were well developed, and the unique storyline was highly captivating. This was the first book that I read by this author, but I certainly plan to read more from her in the future!
*I received a copy of this book through CelebrateLit. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
More from J’nell
The most popular question an author is asked is where did the inspiration come from. Most of the time, if not always, my inspiration comes from a trifecta of resources: movies, music, or books. A single song lyric, or secondary character, or novel setting can trigger a whole world of possibilities that has to be explored. In the case of Songbird and the Spy, it was a movie. A Quentin Tarantino movie to be exact set during WWII where one of the characters is a British officer posing as a Nazi meets up with other spies in a French bar. Another character was a Jewish woman posing as a theater owning Frenchwoman. My brain immediately tingled with ideas. What if identities were all in question? What if you fell in love with the wrong person? Not just the wrong person, but the enemy? The drama and tension in such a situation would be unbelievable!
And that is how Songbird was born.
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.
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To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away a grand prize of a print copy of Songbird and $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.