- Book: The Socialite
- Author: J’nell Ciesielski
- Genre: Historical Romance
- Release Date: April 14, 2020
Glamour, treachery, and espionage collide when an English socialite rushes to save her sister from the Nazis.
As the daughter of Sir Alfred Whitford, Kat has a certain set of responsibilities. But chasing her wayward sister, Ellie, to Nazi-occupied Paris was never supposed to be one of them. Now accustomed to the luxurious lifestyle that her Nazi boyfriend provides, Ellie has no intention of going back to the shackled life their parents dictate for them—but Kat will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
Arrested for simply trying to defend himself against a drunken bully, Barrett Anderson is given the option of going to jail or serving out his sentence by training Resistance fighters in Paris. A bar owner serves as the perfect disguise to entertain Nazis at night while training fighters right below their jackboots during the day. Being assigned to watch over two English debutantes is the last thing he needs, but a payout from their father is too tempting to resist. Can Barrett and Kat trust each other long enough to survive, or will their hearts prove more traitorous than the dangers waiting around the corner?
I was rather excited to read The Socialite as I had previously noticed J’nell Ciesielski‘s other World War II novels. I did not know her books are considered Christian novels until I saw it’s Christian romance category on Amazon and that the publisher is Thomas Nelson. I began to wonder if this classification was correct after reading it because of the lack of discussions about faith, slightly more steamy romance, and a few British swear words.
A quick scan of her earlier book Among the Poppies showed more references to God and prayer over all. Despite the illicit relationship The Socialite is a cleanish romance.
Kat is sent by her father to retrieve the prodigal daughter from a clandestine relationship with a Nazi officer in France. She arrives unaware her father has employed Barrett Anderson to return both Kat and Ellie safely to England.
Ellie is completely infatuated with her German boyfriend Eric von Schlegel. Or rather, she is in love with his money and the pampered lifestyle he gives her. She rationalizes his controlling behavior until he has cut her off from all her friends except his carefully chosen German friends. Although she rebelled against her father’s controlling schemes, she doesn’t recognize her boyfriend is acting the same way.
Ellie recognizes the dangerous situation she has placed herself in after Eric suggests unusual relationship terms. Unfortunately she has not told her sister the true nature of her affair with Eric. Both Kat and Barrett begin to see how impossible reaching England safely will be when they discover Eric is already married.
I enjoyed reading Kat’s journey through personal growth. Her reaction to people trying to control her was not so different from mine. Kat tried to please her father even when she resented his interference. It’s liberating to set personal boundaries.
“I’ve lived my whole life trying to do what was right, what was expected, but I see now it was out of fear of disappointing that I agreed in the first place. I should have said no to a great many people along the way.”
“You should’ve told them to take a flying leap.”
Her lips quirked.
“In hindsight many of them probably deserved that.
But in all those people you were never one I tried to please out of wanting to curry favor. I can be myself without fear of reprisal.”
Kat and Barrett’s first meeting is humorous. I also loved when Kat showed unexpected courage. Barrett’s occasional use of Scottish brogue is delightful.
Religious freedom is an essential right. Reading WWII books helps me realize the importance of tolerating everyone’s beliefs and in having faith that mine will be respected as well. I was moved to tears by the kindness of one historical French community toward the Jews in another WWII novel I thoroughly enjoyed, Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar.
Kathleen (Kat) Whitford hates the Nazis’ inhumane treatment of the Jews. It’s hard for her to hide her disgust. She is appalled when she learns about deportation camps. She, and I, wonder how people allowed this to happen. Barrett’s cautionary explanation makes a lot of sense. I had not realized there was an ‘official narrative’ or restriction of the media in that time period.
I enjoyed the historical details and amusing scenes in this novel. I did not like the contrived technique of withholding a minor detail until the second to last chapter. The last chapter or brothel in another chapter weren’t quite to my taste either. Otherwise, the book is well written.
Reading this story can influence us to consider how we treat other people; it has inspired me to reflect on some of my biases. The need to wisely choose dating standards and recognize desirable attributes in a spouse is another important theme. If you like historical romances with strong female characters, I think you will enjoy The Socialite.
I received a free advanced reader copy of this book. All opinions are completely my own.
The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones, is a memoir that also involves high society during the war but is set in Spain.
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’Nell
I blame Pinterest. Too many hours are spent chasing rabbit holes of glorious pictures of fashion from eras gone by, Highlanders in kilts, WWI ambulances, and fairytale castles. One day I was browsing something super important (or possibly escaping from the actual work I was supposed to be doing, er, we’ll never know) and stumbled across a black and white picture of six beautiful girls. Who are these lovely ladies? I wondered. A quick search brought up the Mitford sisters. Six gorgeous daughters born into an aristocratic English family, each girl with a different passion: Diana the fascist, Jessica the communist, Unity the Hitler lover, Nancy the novelist, Deborah the duchess, and Pamela the poultry connoisseur. Whoa. You know dinner time around their family table was interesting. How could such different personalities belong in the same family? What would you do if your sister got moon-eyed over Hitler??
Bam. An idea was born.
In the beginning, my little rebel Ellie was going to be a full-fledged Nazi ideology lover, but she quickly informed me that it wasn’t so much the Nazis or their crazy ideas she loved, but one man in particular. One twisted Nazi who had fallen completely under her spell, and she under his. The ideas of love can often be more difficult to break as Kat finds out when she tries to rescue her naïve sister. Luckily, she has a hunky Sottish bartender to help her while providing a few romantic intentions of his own. With everyone hiding past hurts and true identities, how will they ever hope to find the love they each long for when war rages under the bright lights of Paris? Guess you’ll have to read to find out 😉
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To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away the grand prize of a book and a book sleeve!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click this link to enter.