Review: A Portrait of Loyalty, by Roseanna M. White

book coverSynopsis

He sees patterns in what she deems chaos.
She sees beauty in a world he thought destroyed.

Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams–it becomes a matter of ending the war.


Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own.

At last we come to the final book in The Codebreakers series by Roseanna M. White. This trilogy has carried readers through the later stages of World War 1, focusing on those who worked for Naval Intelligence in London. This series also featured characters from White’s previous trilogies: Ladies of the Manor, and Shadows Over England, and the result is a glorious example of how all walks of life came together to support the Allies in the war that was supposed to “end all wars.”

Nineteen eighteen brought not only the close of war but the end of the Russian monarchy, the rise of the Bolsheviks, and the Spanish Flu. In A Portrait of Loyalty, Lily and Zivon are on the same side of the war, but both have loyalties to family that could jeopardize not only their careers but their lives. Lily’s love of photography has a large role in the plot, both professionally and personally. Readers discover how photoshopping was done prior to computers, and how photographic manipulation influenced events during the war. Lily’s actions lead her – and the audience – to ask questions such as “what is the difference between art and propaganda?” and “Which is the lesser lie: painting a scene for intelligence purposes, or manipulating a photograph?”

Tragedy descends upon the extensive group of characters with the arrival of the influenza pandemic, in a way I didn’t expect. Readers will probably note a couple of examples of “everything old is new again,” with the disease and rumors of Russian influence in important aspects of government. Is 2020 the new 1918?

And so, the curtain closes on the Great War and White’s nine books set in London, and I am left wanting more. While each book can be read on its own, I’ve enjoyed reading them in order and building my knowledge of each character. I’m not ready to say goodbye to them, even those I didn’t care for at first. These three series have captured but a moment in time, and I want to know what happens after the war. Does Zivon get to return to Russia? Do the Belgian siblings from two of the earlier books see their home again? Does a secondary character from this book get their Happily Ever After? The real life inspiration for Zivon’s character was involved with a precursor to Bletchley Park; since my grandfather apparently worked there (he died before I was born), I’d love to read more about what happened there. Would Zivon be involved? Yes, I have many questions about the characters from this great trilogy of trilogies… but I’m not the one who would have to write the answers!

Product Information

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 08 September 2020

Book Information


Author Q & A

author photoAuthor Information

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

Roseanna M. White’s Website


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