Today I’m reviewing a wonderful historical romance by Roseanna M. White, the last novel in her “Codebreakers” series, A Portrait of Loyalty. This novel also won the Christy Award in its category for 2020 (YAY, Roseanna!).
Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, who Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.
Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.
After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams—it becomes a matter of ending the war.
A Portrait of Loyalty is going on my list of favorites this year! I LOVE how it is intelligent and layered. It offers a unique perspective of conflicts involving both the Russian culture and on the English homefront during WWI. With many things happening to the protagonists, it also has wonderful and fleshed out secondary characters and a fantastic London setting.
Zivon is my newest bespectacled book boyfriend! He sees patterns everywhere. His observance and intelligence are attractive, and when he turns that focus on Lily and sees her depth, oh my! Lily is smart and capable, especially in her work, and it is wonderful to see her commitment and loyalty as a part of the story.
Author Roseanna M. White’s voice plays an important part as the nuances of the romantic relationship unfold, especially as their friendship deepens alongside political conflict. She draws out the theme of loyalty in a natural and relatable way. This loyalty is an overarching theme, appropriately used in the title, as it explores loyalty to country, family, friends, and ideals. I also appreciate the smartly-used imagery and symbolism of photography and light (especially from my own experience as a photographer).
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.