REVIEW: Dangerous Allies by Renee Ryan
Dear Ms. Ryan,
When I saw that this book is set in Germany during WWII, I knew I had to try it. That, I’m afraid, is really the only reason I jumped at it but pounce on it I did. Like Wendy the Super Librarian I feel compelled to do my part to encourage the publishing industry to allow authors to utilize historical eras other than Regency England. Okay, hopping off my little soapbox now.
Katarina Kerenksy is one of the most famous and talented actresses in Germany but Jack Anderson, an agent working for the English, still thinks she’s a liability. But since she’s the one who worked out the only way to obtain access to the secret plans of Germany’s secret weapon, he’s forced to not only allow her to go along with him but let her take the lead and be the one who sneaks into Admiral Donitz’s quarters.
For her part, Katarina also mistrusts this agent who so successfully presents himself as a wealthy Austrian who holds rank in the SS and answers only to Himmler himself. The two dance on a knife’s edge of danger as they attempt to discover the plans for the secret weapon which could turn the war before it’s barely begun. But Katarina keeps an even more deadly personal secret which could get her or her mother killed should the Nazi’s find it out. Can she come to trust this ice cold agent who has turned as far from God as she has?
Wait, on thinking further, the gorgeous cover of this book was another inducement to buy it. I will say that the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical line does get some nice covers. So bravo for that too. I also understand that this will be the first in a series of books set in WWII Germany.
The fact that the hero is a secret agent and the heroine a talented actress helped me believe the incredible amount of information each can effortlessly read in the other’s face as well as those of everyone around them. Each nuance, each emotion, no matter how fleeting gets read like a book despite the fact that these two are sooooo good about hiding their thoughts in public. I guess it’s their honed talent and natural sympatico-ness but they might as well be signaling in ALS.
I think you do a marvelous job at introducing and maintaining the amount of tension and suspense which permeates the book. One slip, one moment of thoughtlessness, one small error can and will send either one of them on a one way torture session with the SS from which they’ll never return. As well, the Kerenskys – mother and daughter – must hide their ancestry for fear of the concentration camps.
But one thing I enjoyed immensely about the book is that Katarina and her mother are loyal to Germany – though not to the Nazis, obviously. They love their homeland and Katarina wants to do something to free it from the tyranny which has taken it over. Neither wishes to leave which turns out to cause a twist to the plot at the end which I wasn’t expecting.
Since this is a Steeple Hill Historical book, faith is going to play a large part in the story. Both Jack and Katarina have fallen from their childhood faith – Jack because of the evil he is forced to accept to maintain his SS cover and Katarina because of the death of her Russian father at the hands of the Communists during the Revolution. I didn’t mind that both characters undergo tests of their faith – I expected that – but I could have done without the endless repetitions every three or four chapters about what caused their loss of faith and whether or not they can ever regain their faith. I got it the first time.
The book also suffers from a short time span for the majority of the action – 3 days – and despite its length the end seemed rushed. The sudden realization of “I love yous” also caught me by surprise though since I knew the action was supposed to be concluded in 3 days I probably shouldn’t have been. But, and this is a big but, you totally surprised me, in a good way, with the way the story ends. I was expecting you to do one thing with the characters while you slipped in something completely different. Kudos to you for that.
I think you did a better job with the suspense than the romance. The historical details are rich and add to the story. While I might have wished for a little less repetition of the same thoughts on God and religion and faith, it’s an inspy so I can’t complain too much there. But the WWII setting, and especially the fact that it’s in Germany, has snagged me and will bring me back for the next installment. C+
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I think there might be an error somewhere since the cover isn’t showing up in the full review? And it is a GORGEOUS cover!
I was just tweeting to SuperWendy yesterday how I wish that us readers of non-inspies could get the elegant covers and diversity of settings that inspy readers get.
@Janine: For a while, inspy books were about the only source of Western settings I could find. Now they’re branching out into WWII, ancient Rome, and the Depression Era among others. I’m really enjoying the choices available.
Totally agree with AmyW and Janine. Steeple Hill and Bethany House have had some stunning covers. Despite the fact that they lack half-dressed couples in danger of losing their clothing, the covers are often beautiful, romantic and sexy. I just wish I read inspirational romances, but I’m afraid I’d find the religion intrusive (despite loving many Christmas stories).
Several times now, when I’ve seen yet another HP with yet another boring, clichÃ©d clinch cover (now that I have the wonderful new M&B covers to compare against), I’ve seriously consider formulating a plan to kidnap the cover people from Steeple Hill and FORCE them to make my books gorgeous, too.
I love those BH & SH covers, too! I wish mainstream romance covers were like those. Especially historical romances. I’m thoroughly sick of seeing half-naked women and men on covers.
I must admit this is the main reason why I went digital. I can read in peace without putting up with snarky comments and knowing smirks from members of the public.
Wow, that cover is really nice. And it doesn’t scream “inspy” either. Maybe now that inspys are branching out more, I’ll give some of them a try again. I’d rather see Christian characters grappling with the issues these characters do then the millionth take on the Amish troupe.
@LizJ: I can’t tell you the number of Amish books we receive for possible review – none of which interest me. I also recently got a Mormon historical book complete with sister wives. All I can say is NFW.
Had to laugh at the line about the characters reading every nuance of expression on each other’s face. This annoying habit crops up repeatedly in romance, but I’m thinking it replaces headhopping. I’m currently editing one of my old historicals and every time I leap from one of my protagonists to the head of a secondary character, it’s to give insight to how the protagonists look or are reacting. Guess we need a new tag for expression reading. “G”