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I Belong


Review: Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

Title: Congress of Secrets

Author: Stephanie Burgis

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Format: Paperback, 347 Pages

ISBN-10: 1633881997 (Pyr)

ISBN-13: 978-1633881990 (Pyr)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

Quick & Dirty: All the of world is a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.

Opening Sentence: “Of course, I could never go back to Vienna,” Michael Seinhuller said.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Michael is a con man or a player on the world stage and he has a play to set him up for life, he just needs some help getting into Vienna so he can get land, title, and money. When he runs into a troupe headed into Vienna he knows how to get them to help him. Once he is in, he just needs to find someone to introduce him the right people and he can implement his plan. Lady Wyndham is a wealthy English widow with a deadly secret. She is the daughter of a radical printer who was imprisoned over twenty-four years ago and she has a plan to find him and free him.

When Michael accidentally runs into Lady Caroline he is stunned to realize that she is really Karolina, he is pleased to find her alive and well. She is not so happy to see him, she knows that he ran when her father was arrested and she hates him for it. However, fate throws them together and she arranges for him to stay with her secretary and introduces him to some powerful people in Vienna. Caroline is pleased when the Emperor is so taken with her, but little does she know, Count Pergen, the head of the secret police is busy looking into her past.

Peter, the director of the troupe, is kidnapped off the street and interrogated about Michael, he realizes that they were used by him, but he is desperate to do anything to save his troupe. Michael is uncovered by the French ambassador and is blackmailed into helping him. Caroline doesn’t realize that the Count is hot on her trial and when her secretary feels betrayed he may sell her out in the worst way. Can they play the game and win or will they lose everything?

I really didn’t know what to expect with this one and I was blown away. I absolutely loved the introduction of magic or alchemy in this book, and I was utterly fascinated until the end. I couldn’t put this down. Michael is a typical con man, but he really grows in this book and I can’t say enough about Caroline. To come back to Vienna after barely escaping from there, and to look the men in their faces and pretend that they don’t disgust her. Amazing character. She was fierce and strong, sadly despite not being so trusting she really didn’t see some of the things that happened coming.

The mix of alchemy, actors, con men, suppression of ideas all came together to make an explosive story. I haven’t really ever thought about the Congress that took place in Vienna after Napoleon was defeated and Stephanie makes it all come alive. This was my first time reading one of her books and I can’t wait to see what else she has written.

Notable Scene:

Within a week at most, the city would be full of the wealthiest and most influential men and women in all of Europe, gathered together in waltz, gossip and be witnesses in glorious celebration of Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat. Even now, diplomats were preparing themselves to barter the fate of the continent, aristocrats to display their finery; and the city of Vienna to become the beating heart of Europe.

glitter crown

skull5

FTC Advisory: Pyr provided me with a copy of Congress of Secrets. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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