We sat there, Mom and I, in the too-clean feeling hospital room, with the stiffly starched sheets and the stinky hand cleaner. I’ve always read that hospitals have an awful “clean” smell. I submit that perhaps it’s just the overall too-clean feeling. We were both reading, trying to pass the time until the ward doctor came by for one last check on Mom before we were given her discharge papers. It’s hard to focus on reading when you’re anxious to get out to fresh air, green grass, and blue skies again—even if the stay was pleasant enough, and not nearly as long as other people’s! (Now, I’m not complaining—I am thankful for modern medicine, hospitals, and all that. I’m just a terrible homebody!)
“It’s hard to focus on finishing a book,” I sighed to Mom as I set the book aside, “when you’re tired of reading and you already know what the ending will be.”
She agreed with me, but went back to reading. There wasn’t much else to do between those four walls with several curtains designed to give each patient a little privacy!
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Several months ago, a book came up on a book reviews site I follow, and it immediately piqued my curiosity. Roseanna M. White is a co-author of the Go Teen Writers blog, and as such when I saw her most recent release available in exchange for review, I decided to try it. I was really interested to see what kind of writing style she had, so I was glad for a way to find out! I did know that the book was a romance, so thankfully that wasn’t a surprise.
What I Thought of A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White:
I loved this book! And…in some ways, got quite annoyed with the story, but that’s a side point right now. I loved the setting. I can’t remember when the last time was that I read a historical fiction about England right before the First World War, so that was extra special (probably partly because I’ve always had a bit of fascination for English history anyway!). I loved the tension as it built between the different characters as they tried to prove (or disprove!) one of the main character’s loyalties—whether to the Crown, or to the enemy, the Germans.
I also loved the fact that this felt like Oliver Twist retold in some ways. Different, of course, but some elements were very striking in that area. And since I loved Oliver Twist when I read it for school several years ago, this naturally felt like meeting an old friend once again.
The whole librarian thing is, of course, an intriguing element for me since I love books as well. And I LOVED the fact that one of the main characters was a writer! It gave an interesting, sometimes humorous twist to the story—and one that’s all too relatable! At one point, he got distracted with an idea for his story, and ended up ignoring someone for about five minutes. I couldn’t help laughing! Been there, done that!
Despite all the fun parts, though, the history, the semi-classic feel, the fun characters (some really made me crack up!), the bookishness (if that’s a word!) of the story, I was disappointed in some ways. The romance was actually okay—only one kissing scene made me gag a little, and I’m thankful that was confined to just over a page. Overall, though, it wasn’t icky. I appreciated that.
(POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT) My main gripe with the book lies in its predictableness—or, at least, what felt like that when I was reading it. I knew from the first page who would marry whom, and what the ending would be—down to some of the less important parts—and that kind-of ruined the ending for me. I’m not sure I would have even finished the book once I got past the climax, except for the fact that I wanted to finish for the review’s sake. I also didn’t like the fact that the villain (or supposed villain) didn’t actually end up bad in the end. It was understandable, but disappointing. (END SPOILER ALERT)
In all, while I did enjoy this book, I don’t see myself coming back to read it again very soon, which I find to be somewhat disappointing. However, I do hope I’ll be able to read more of White’s books in the future, because I loved the rhythm and wording she used. In many ways, this book was a cozy, relaxing read for me—some parts were outright funny, some sad, and overall it was a good story.
There were two things that I learned from A Name Unknown I thought noteworthy: First, have you ever heard of these landscaping things called ha-has? I hadn’t, until I encountered it in chapter thirteen—and had to look it up. Very neat idea! (You can find out about them here.) I was glad, this week, I had taken time to look it up—while I was listening to Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, a ha-ha was mentioned several times. Never would have picked up on that otherwise! Second, I enjoyed the mention of New Zealand cabbage trees, of all things, being in Cornwall back in the early 1900s—and looked that up as well. Apparently there are places in the UK that have them. So I did find it neat to have two different minor things confirmed as being realistic parts of the setting.
About the Book:
She’s out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets—now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary’s challenge of a lifetime comes when she’s assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?
Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown—so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.
Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth—about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.