07 April 2019

The Songbird and the Spy | Book Review, Guest Post + Giveaway


As shells explode over Nazi-occupied France, American music student Claire Baudin is trapped behind enemy lines, struggling to protect her identity. Singing as a barmaid while she plans her escape, a handsome Third Reich captain threatens everything she knows to be true about the enemy.

Nazi Captain Michael Reiner isn’t who he claims to be. A British language expert turned spy, he discovers the truth about Claire, but he knows the importance of a secret. Struggling to resist his attraction to the songbird, he’s determined to complete his assignment, no matter the cost. His cover is threatened when a ruthless female Gestapo officer arrives hunting Resistance fighters. The raid forces Michael’s hand: complete the mission or save Claire.

As the war threatens to tear them apart, they must rely on each other for survival. Is there hope—and a future—for an American songbird and a British spy?

Publisher: Smitten Historical Romance
Release Date: February 19, 2019


Thrillingly delivering historical action, adventure, and romance, The Songbird and the Spy by J’nell Ciesielski is a gem, and I enjoyed reading it. Fans of historical fiction should not skip this story.

Trapped behind enemy lies in Nazi-occupied France, Claire Baudin is just trying to get by—and perhaps, escape. But as she gets to know Third Reich captain Michael Reiner, the danger heightens, and secrets revealed could mean drastic consequences.

The history that The Songbird and the Spy brings to life is both fascinating and terrifying (as it is with most World War II stories), and I felt the emotions along with the characters, especially since they’re easy to love. Ciesielski wrote this story well, and I know it won’t be last I read from her. (In fact, it might be time to go read Among the Poppies.)


I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days creating heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.


The most popular question an author is asked is where did the inspiration come from. Most of the time, if not always, my inspiration comes from a trifecta of resources: movies, music, or books. A single song lyric, or secondary character, or novel setting can trigger a whole world of possibilities that has to be explored. In the case of The Songbird and the Spy, it was a movie. A Quentin Tarantino movie to be exact, set during WWII where one of the characters is a British officer posing as a Nazi meets up with other spies in a French bar. Another character was a Jewish woman posing as a theater owning Frenchwoman. My brain immediately tingled with ideas. What if identities were all in question? What if you fell in love with the wrong person? Not just the wrong person, but the enemy? The drama and tension in such a situation would be unbelievable!

And that is how Songbird was born.

Here are a few bits of trivia for you:
  • Songbird was originally titled Iron Shepherd for Michael’s call sign.
  • There have been three or four different endings written.
  • Michael Reiner was based off of Michael (see what I did there?!) Fassbender’s character in Inglorious Basterds. The actor was born in Germany to German and Irish parents, and later grew up in Ireland. Art imitating life.
  • Music always makes its way into my stories, and here it takes center stage.
  • I’ve always wanted to write a USO story, so the ending was my perfect chance to squeeze it in.
  • Ilsa von Ziegler was based off of Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones.
  • There was a scene showing Michael at SOE training in Scotland, but it was later cut.
  • Nazi headquarters in Paris really was located on Foch Ave. The building is still there.
  • The molten lead that Michael’s new assistant talks about is a German New Year’s tradition to divine fortune in the coming year. A small bit of lead or tin is melted, and then dropped in water. The form created by the metal predicts the future.
  • Chanteuse is a female singer. Edith Piaf, the most famous French singer of all, was known as The Little Sparrow. Songbird and chanteuse are both used to reference Claire and pay homage to Piaf.


To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away a grand prize of a print copy of Songbird and $25 Amazon gift card. Enter below, and be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway.



  1. I liked the review, sounds like a good book.

  2. Sounds like a great read can't wait to read this.

  3. This sounds good! I have it on my Kindle, waiting its turn.

  4. Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading the guest post and the review! Looking forward to checking out this book!

  5. Excellent review! The Songbird and the Spy sounds like a must read!

  6. Historical fiction is such a great way to learn about history. I've actually never read a book set around WW2 Germany so this book seems interesting.

  7. Fantastic, sounds like a brilliant book