In a swirl of curiosity over the title, cover, and blurb, I was eager to try this British WWII era romantic suspense. Following along as young, intrepid Ena Dudley does her part for the war effort through her top secret work at the factory and later as she seeks to find out who stole and sabotaged her work was a source of delight.
I discovered after I finished and read the afterwards that I had actually snagged the fourth book in a series telling the story of each Dudley sister. And with that in mind, it’s obvious that this one at least could be read out of order or as a standalone. It also left me excited that I can go back and get the stories for each of Ena’s sisters who all ended up doing different work during the war.
The story opens with Ena Dudley and the other women at the engineering plant fearful during a German bombing raid on nearby Coventry. Ena’s work is important and secret so that not even she is sure what her delicate component work is for. Her boss and his assistant, her friend Freda, are the ones who carry the finished work to Bletchley Park each week. Ena is eager to one day be able to accompany them. The bombing of Coventry and another of the engineering plants there give her the opportunity.
Soon, she is regularly helping to deliver her work to the Colonel at Bletchley Park, but then one fateful day, she is robbed and comes under suspicion for a time that she sabotaged her own work. She didn’t, but someone close to her did. Ena is bright and starts putting together the events and agrees to help trap a German spy.
Going about her daily life, continuing her work, and expanding her attentions to Bletchley, Ena slowly closes in on who is sabotaging the work from her plant. In the meantime, Ena has an American working with British Intelligence interested in her and also the attentions of an old family friend who works at Bletchley. Ena has feelings for both, but also can’t let her guard down ever with co-workers, friends, or anyone else now that she is on the hunt even while she herself may become the hunted.
I was already interested knowing this would follow a heroine working on intricate and secret components for top secret intelligence and communication work and also her investigation for a saboteur, but the author really pulled me in with her attention to the historical setting, the characters fitting well in the setting, and the thoughtful even pace of the story. The detail work was fascinating and added color and depth. Ena’s family life, holidays during the war, work, dances, thinking, fashion, music, war romance, and living with the fear- all well drawn and blended with the plot nicely.
The story is passive much of the time, but once I got used to the writing style, I got along fine with it. There are jumps in time and there is also leaps in the relationship development which I wish had had the time to tease out more. Ena herself is well developed as is her daily world. She’s a bright and intelligent heroine. Yes, there were two men she was interested in, but one really wasn’t a serious contender so no worries about a love triangle.
The suspense was good. I caught on to a few things, but there were still a couple surprises for me. Ena’s role is important in the investigation, but she was also working with the real professionals of British intelligence. She was great when she bearded the Colonel in his office and stood her ground about things.
The ending is left a little open-ended, but not exactly a cliffhanger as it sets up for the next book which I really must have. This was a gently paced story that I would easily recommend to the lovers of historical mystery and historical romantic suspense.
I got this book from Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #210
New to Me #87 author/series