Release Date: February 8th, 2022
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CW/TW: scenes from world war i, character with ptsd, panic attacks and anxiety
It’s spring 1919, and the Great War has ended. New life flourishes on the red cliffs of the Northern Isles of Scotland―sea pinks and primrose, puffins and guillemots. But this windswept corner of the world harbors a dark secret.
Rose Van Etten has always reveled in danger and defiance. When the war started, she went from racing cars to driving ambulances and learned of an insidious spy ring from a dying soldier. Now that the war is over, she ventures to Scotland in search of the truth.
The isles’ stark beauty quickly captivates her, but so does one of the locals. Unlike most men, the rugged, Viking-esque Thorfinn Sinclair respects Rose’s independent spirit. It seems she’s met her equal.
But Thorfinn has secrets of his own. Fiercely loyal to home and family, he will do whatever it takes to protect the land he loves. As the spies close in, Rose must decide for herself: Is Thorfinn friend or foe?
I am absolutely obsessed with the way Violet Marsh tells her story. When I read The Aviatrix last year, I was totally sold on the idea of a different kind of historical romance that featured women who went above and beyond what was expected of them in that time period. Like the women in that book, Rose Van Etten and Myrtle Morningstar blew me away with their strong personalities, their devil may care attitude and their desire to constantly push boundaries to achieve what they set out to do. The story is definitely about Rose, but it would be remiss not to talk about Myrtle or the Flett sisters and cousin, because every single female character in this book carries the story like the bada** characters they are.
Rose Van Etten is an American socialite who signed up for the war without knowing what she was getting herself into. After risking her life constantly as an ambulance driver, she’s back in her home in Daytona, Florida. Except, she’s come back with a severe case of PTSD (they refer to it as ‘shell shock’) and a mission to uncover a spy ring thanks to the ramblings of a dying Englishman in her ambulance. Rose does her research and the hunting to find the connections and ends up on two islands called Hamarray and Frest, looking for more clues. Thorfinn Sinclair didn’t serve in the war like other able-bodied men of his age. For one, he’s got only one eye and the other, he had to stay to look after his young siblings and aging stepfather. But for Thorfinn, not being able to serve has been something of a point of contention for him. He’s served the people of Frest by helping them and guiding them, which he doesn’t think of as a big deal, but little does he know that everything he’s done has been for something good. And when Miss Van Etten appears on his islands and completely upends everything he’s worked towards, Thorfinn is completely caught off guard and drawn to her all at the same time.
I loved Rose. I loved that she’s a heiress, totally cavalier with her wealth and does whatever she pleases. We need more heroines who accept their flaws and roll with it. But Rose isn’t just self-serving, she cares about people around her. She wants to make a difference and she wants to do something that will benefit the greater good. It might not be evident at first, but Rose has a purpose. Sure, she’s got blinders on and she’s very focused on uncovering this spy ring, but there’s so much more to Rose than meets the eye. She’s smart, cunning, fearless and passionate—all things necessary to face off men who believe women are weaker than them and all things one needs to be taken seriously. The effect she has on the people of the islands isn’t immediate either, mostly because Rose herself is trying to understand who she is in the grand scheme of things. Her effect on Thorfinn might be my favourite thing, because she doesn’t even realise the impact she has on him just by existing in his orbit and she’s not shy to ask for what she wants. I truly loved how they went from being unknown to leaning on each other and falling in love, because it felt so natural.
Thorfinn is also such a wonderful character. He’s Rose’s Viking thanks to his large stature and his obvious strength. He’s so much more than just a grumpy local and the way in which his siblings and Rose whittle away at his surface and reveal the man Thorfinn really is did it for me. There’s so much pain in Thorfinn’s life and the fact that he stands tall, holds his head up and does what needs to be done says everything about the character. And Thorfinn’s relationship with Rose is so beautiful. I loved the slow burn and build up, the cautious way in which they let each other in. They’re both keeping secrets, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants, right?
Velocity of a Secret is a historical romance with a twist of suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Violet Marsh’s writing will also soothe you into spending an entire morning forgetting responsibilities to focus on only this book. The characters all bring something so special to the story and I hope we get to see more of them in future books.
Thanks to Violet Marsh, Montlake and NetGalley for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.