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.
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! 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.
OH. MY. WORD. Is this book AMAZING!!! The Songbird and the Spy is the first novel I’ve read by J’nell Ciesielski, but it most definitely will not be my last. Ciesielski is a seriously talented author. The Songbird and the Spy is a captivating, suspenseful novel that had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire read. This is a story I did not want to put down.
Michael and Claire are superb characters put into almost impossible situations. They handle things with grace, courage, and dignity, but also in very realistic ways. Both experience fears and doubts, but are able to overcome these feelings because they know God will see them through. Of the many amazing moments in this novel, one of my favorites is when Claire confronts herself. To not spoil anything, I won’t share what happens to bring Claire to this moment. What I do want to say is how impressed I am by her self-reflection. In this particular moment, Claire is super frustrated. Her life seems to be spiraling out of control. She is scared, angry, and frustrated. She feels powerless and trapped. Claire’s immediate reaction is to blame others, the Nazis, the world, etc. But she stops herself. She goes to her room for privacy, takes a breath, and then really considers her circumstance. Claire concludes that none of her situation is anyone’s fault but her own. Yes, she is in a scary place. Yes, she wants to rage in frustration and anger. And, yes, she would love to blame it all on someone else. But Claire realizes she can’t. She has freely made all of the choices that led her to this moment. She is the cause of her current problems and blaming someone else will not bring her to a solution. What a fantastic and refreshing character attribute! I very much appreciate seeing a character take responsibility for her words, thoughts, and actions. In this day and age where it is typical for people to play the victim and blame others for their choices, Claire’s strength in character really stands out. When my daughter is of the appropriate age, I will definitely share this novel with her. Claire is a wonderful example of a strong woman — the kind of woman I pray my daughter will become one day.
I have to say that Michael is one of the best heroes I’ve read in a long time. He’s highly intelligent, commanding, and fierce. He’s intimidating in the right kind of way. And, he’s incredibly handsome, can put up a good fight, and has a heart the size of Texas. I’m not going to lie — I have a major crush! What impressed me the most about Michael is his bravery. I cannot imagine purposely infiltrating one of the most vile and evil groups that’s ever been on this earth in order to take them down from the inside. What would scare me the most is knowing that if I was ever found out the enemy would torture and kill me. BUT Jesus says in Matthew 10:28 (ESV), “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both the soul and body in hell.” And so, Michael does what he knows he needs to do to protect thousands and thousands of lives with very little thought to himself. He lives out exactly what Jesus discusses in Matthew 10:28. It was terrifying and wonderful to experience Michael’s dangerous journey in this novel, but it was encouraging and inspirational as well.
The Songbird and the Spy is an excellent story. It hooked me from page one, and I never wanted to put the book down. I’m very sad my time with this book is over, but I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read and review this amazing novel. If you are longing for a well written, beautifully crafted story filled with tremendous suspense and sweet romance then I highly, highly recommend The Songbird and the Spy.
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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.
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