“A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White

Cover of titular book, featuring a brunette with her hair up, wearing a green-blue dress with a white lace color, in a library; she is slightly looking behind herBook: “A Name Unknown” by Roseanna M. White
Series: Shadows Over England #1
Published by Bethany House on 4th July, 2017
Genres: Christian fiction, Historical, Romance
Format: Paperback, 428 pages
Rating: 3/5⭐
Source: Bethany House (received for free in exchange for an honest review)
Goodreads

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 concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

My favorite part of historical fiction is how there’s a predictability to them that is comforting, in that certain worldly events and timely cultures are inevitable.

Thus, part of my reason for enjoying this book is owed to my favoritism for the genre—but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Writing

I struggled to like this book, but that’s owed to the writing: I use the blurb as a telling sign of how the book may be written. This one included full thoughts in sentences; the book is written nothing like the blurb.

It’s like this, for an example: There are periods. Where commas or em dashes should be placed. Or can be skipped. And thoughts continued. So thoughts can continue. Instead of stopping. And making the reader think the thought is finished. Complete. No longer in progress.

I’m not a fan of that. I understand its trendiness originates from the idea that people are less likely to read long sentences, but literally the only people I see saying this are the people who do it—I’ve never seen studies for it, for example. The general consensus, in my experience, is that people are lazier with their writing and don’t care if it makes the reader pause and/or have to reread something because they just realized, “Oh, this thought is unfinished and continuing beyond the period…” I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather read a long sentence than read several sentences (or even a whole paragraph) multiple times to try to understand what is being said. Written constipation is neither fun nor easy to read—diarrhea reads better.

I originally gave 4 stars, but in writing this review have gone down to my average 3, because aside from the writing, there was a really slow start so bad I dropped reading this book for Evelyn Hugo.

There were renewing qualities in some of the diction in terms of imagery, but it seems only parts the author was wholly passionate about were written extraordinarily well—which leads me to believe it is possible for her to churn out diarrhea, to make her diction flow like water and read like air.

Story

After finishing Evelyn Hugo, I knew I needed to continue and finish reading it. It started to feel like a chore, which disappointed me because I did enjoy the story. I knew it had potential. The first 300 pages were the worst. I know crime themes take time to create a buildup, but this borderlined boring.

Development

The budding romance received little attention until the last 200 pages, which I liked at first but dislike in hindsight. At first, I felt it mayn’t be a romance novel and instead focus on their friendship—build it up in the first book, then continue in the latter ones—but this series pilot works as a standalone, because the sequel regards Rosemary’s sister’s romance.

The character development was fine. I think the only thing I’d’ve preferred, as someone who has an occasional stutter simply because it’s how my brain churns out verbal communication, is for Peter’s stutter to not be reliant on his confidence. I do think, given what I read of him in the book, he could be autistic—but I also think it’d be a stretch to add this book to a list with suspected autistic characters…and when autistics stutter (or anyone stutters), it’s not always because of low self-esteem but rather because the processing is slower than we speak. Some of us pause mid-conversation so the processing can catch up to us; the end result is stuttering. BUT I DIGRESS.

I would like to read a book featuring an autistic character written in such a way that it’s not like, “What’s wrong with him?” and, “Autism,” or another typical exchange by allistics, but more subtle in the way of his mannerisms, but I digress again. (Hint hint)

I did enjoy how the villains were there from the start and not completely new people introduced at the end. I admire full-circle turns of events. 😉

Proselytizing

There was little! I prefer when it’s subtle, more in the form of symbolism because that is what I nerd over most in ANYTHING, but when it’s directly addressed, subtlety is better appreciated by me.

I just don’t think books, even of the Christian genre, are a place to try to convert anyone to any religion.

Sequel

I don’t know if I’d be interested in reading about Rosemary’s sister, because I didn’t much like her in this one.

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