Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: Ring of Secrets, Part 1

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White, first book in the Culper Ring series, is a fascinating blend of fact and fiction set during the Revolutionary War, a tale of love and intrigue. Character depth, interesting narrative, Washington's secret spy ring - all combine to make this a compelling book that I loved.


1779—Winter Reeves is an aristocratic American Patriot forced to hide her heart amid the British Loyalists of the city of New York. She has learned to keep her ears open so she can pass information on British movements to Robbie Townsend, her childhood friend, and his spy ring. If she’s caught, she will be executed for espionage, but she prays the Lord’s protection will sustain her, and Robbie has taught her the tools of the trade—the wonders of invisible ink, secret drop locations and, most importantly, a good cover.
Bennet Lane returns to New York from his Yale professorship with one goal: to find General Washington’s spy hidden among the ranks of the city’s elite. Searching for a wife was supposed to be nothing more than a convenient cover story for his mission, but when he meets Winter, with her too-intelligent eyes in her too-blank face, he finds a mystery that can’t be ignored.
Both are determined to prevail at any cost…and each is committed to a separate cause.

My thoughts

Bennet and Winter are two well-drawn, appealing characters, and their romance is fun to watch. Winter is a beautiful lady from a wealthy family who uses her connections in society to gain and pass on military information from the British Loyalists . . . while Bennet's goal is to discover the Patriot spy hidden among New York's aristocracy.
Roseanna does a great job infusing wit and humor into these lead characters and their dialogue. Winter uses her position to pose as a brainless and harmless beauty, hiding her intelligence and passion to help behind an empty, bored look, conversational misunderstandings, and shallow chatter. But Bennet, normally awkward around women, sees through her deception at their first meeting: "Not so much as a twitch revealed any thought at all, but he knew well he hadn't imagined it. Winter Reeves was more than the face she showed this crowded ballroom."
Two secondary characters stand out - Freeman and Colonel Fairchild - and I hope to see more of them in future books. Freeman is a former slave, tied to Winter's family by "eighteen years of shared circumstances, shared toil, shared fear and loss." The mutual care, protection and friendship they give to each other is a strong theme that I really liked. Colonel Fairchild at first seems no more than a potential love interest who Winter uses to gain information, but an unlikely friendship gradually forms between the colonel and Bennet, and a surprising act toward the end makes him an endearing character - one whose story Roseanna will soon feature in a novella.
Roseanna beautifully weaves these fictional characters around the factual Culper Ring, a spy ring organized by General Washington, consisting of ordinary citizens who relayed information regarding movements of British troops through British-controlled New York City. Winter conveys information through methods taught by her childhood friend and real-life member, Robert Townsend - methods involving codes, secret drops, and the use of sympathetic stains (iron salt inks that appear invisible) by writing between the lines of traditional pen and ink messages.
Roseanna has done her research well, drawing from books such as Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose. She also draws from a Puritan prayer book called The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett. I bought this beautiful book several years ago when I saw it recommended in Discipleship Journal magazine, and have used it many times in my personal devotions. I highly recommend The Valley of Vision for inspirational reading.
The message of this book is summed up in Bennet's words toward the end: "We will pray, and we will trust that when this war is over, friendships need not be determined by the color of our coats."
Ring of Secrets is entertaining and informative reading on many levels and I recommend it highly. It has a great surprise ending - and I say surprise because I couldn't figure out how Roseanna would resolve the conflict between Bennet and Winter. While I'm especially drawn to Revolutionary War settings, readers of inspirational fiction in general would enjoy it. The next book, Whispers from the Shadows, will be released in August 2013.


 Roseanna M. White
To learn more about Roseanna and her books, visit . . .

Roseanna's website at
Pinterest board for Ring of Secrets at
Roseanna's blog at

This book was provided by Harvest House through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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