Ring of Secrets

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White is the first in her Culper Ring series, fiction based on the real-life spy network set in motion during the Revolutionary War.

When Winter Reeves’ mother died while her father was fighting with the Patriots, her grandparents came to take her to their home in New York City. Her grandparents had never forgiven her mother for marrying outside their station and political affiliations, and they took their anger out on Winter. They instructed that she would say her father was dead, that she would not express any Patriot leanings, and she would marry the man of their choosing as soon as possible so they could get her out of their responsibilities and home.

Since Winter could not be who she really was, she played the part of a beautiful but witless society lady. Her persona gave her a great cover, though, for overhearing information from the Loyalist officers in their social circles. She passed along any useful information to her childhood friend, Robbie Townsend, a mercantile owner who was a vital link in the Culper Ring network.

Bennet Lane was a new arrival in the city. He would not have been considered a catch among the highest society there due to his professorship at Yale, teaching chemistry. But now he was set to inherit a large English estate, making all the tittering mamas in town set their sites on him as a potential son-in-law. Though Bennet usually got tongue-tied and awkward around women, he thought the apparent pursuit of a wife would be a good cover for his real mission: to discover information about a hidden Patriot spy ring.

When Bennet met Winter, he perceived that there was intelligence and spunk underneath the silly exterior she presented to the public. He wanted to know more.

Roseanna has become one of my favorite authors over the last few years, and this novel lived up to the others I read. There are so many layers to this story: the political intrigue and danger, the growing attraction between Winter and Bennet despite their differences, the pursuit of Winter by a Loyalist officer, Isaac Fairchild, Winter’s deep faith and Bennet’s lack of belief in anything he can’t see and test. As I read, I thought, “There is only one way I can see this working out.” The plot did go that direction, but with some surprises along the way.

I thought all the characters were well-drawn. I especially loved Freeman, a free Black man who had been one of Winter’s father’s closest friends and who pledged to protect Winter, and Viney, a poor but faith-filled woman Winter encounters.

Even though I love Roseanna’s writing and knew I’d get to this series eventually, I didn’t like the covers, which put me off the series a bit. It looks like this series was first published in 2019 and then the second edition in 2021. There are two covers for each book. I had this one in my Kindle library. But Audible currently has the books for free with an Audible subscription. I’m thankful they did and I finally got to them. I’ve already started the sequel.

I had not realized when I got the audiobooks that there were novellas in-between the books, not on audio. They are currently packaged together here. The first one, Fairchild’s Lady, takes place just before the French Revolution breaks out. General Fairchild from the first book is in France on two missions: to gather information and to locate a countess and her daughter and bring them to England before the Revolution makes travel impossible. He meets a beauitful woman, Julienne, at a masquerade ball, only to discover later that she is the young woman he is looking for. A dangerous French courtier has laid claim to Julienne, though.

This novella was just as good as the first book. Fairchild was a likeable, honorable character, even though he was on the other side, politically. It was fun to see his story continue.

Roseanna notes in her afterword of Ring of Secrets that the Culper Ring members were not professional spies. They were everyday people seeking to promote the cause of the fledgling United States of America. There were women in their ranks as well as men. The main characters in these books are fictional, but historical characters are mentioned as well.

I’m looking forward to see what else happens with the Culper Ring.

4 thoughts on “Ring of Secrets

  1. Good reviews; I always like when an author includes a note letting us know what is true and what’s fictional. I remember you reviewing and liking Roseanna’s books in the past. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the covers either. She needs to hire my daughter to redo them 🙂 I feel like it’s always kind of tough to get a photograph of a person to “work” for a historical novel, or maybe that’s just me.

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