Hotel of Secrets
by Diana Biller
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Pub Date 28 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 11 Apr 2023
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Griffin
"[A] perfect jewel-box world set in 19th-century Vienna." - The New York Times
"Uniquely charming! With her delightful characters, Biller builds an irresistible world inside a Viennese Victorian-era hotel that is equal parts screwball comedy, epic love story, and thrilling mystery. An utterly captivating novel about the power of fate." - Joanna Shupe, USA Today bestselling author of The Fifth Avenue Rebels series
Diana Biller's Hotel of Secrets is chock full of banter-filled shenanigans, must-have-you kisses, and romance certain to light a fire in the hearts of readers everywhere.
During ball season, anything can happen—even love.
It’s ball season in Vienna, and Maria Wallner only wants one thing: to restore her family’s hotel, the Hotel Wallner, to its former glory. She’s not going to let anything get in her way - not her parents’ three-decade-long affair; not seemingly-random attacks by masked assassins; and especially not the broad-shouldered American foreign agent who’s saved her life two times already. No matter how luscious his mouth is.
Eli Whittaker also only wants one thing: to find out who is selling American secret codes across Europe, arrest them, and go home to his sensible life in Washington, DC. He has one lead - a letter the culprit sent from a Viennese hotel. But when he arrives in Vienna, he is immediately swept up into a chaotic whirlwind of balls, spies, waltzes, and beautiful hotelkeepers who seem to constantly find themselves in danger. He disapproves of all of it! But his disapproval is tested as he slowly falls deeper into the chaos - and as his attraction to said hotelkeeper grows.
"With prose to match the sumptuous setting of 1870s Vienna, Hotel of Secrets is an exquisite and decadent read. Diana Biller breathes new life into historical romance with writing that is singularly lush, deeply romantic, and transportive. Readers will get swept away by the combination of nail-biting intrigue and whole-hearted passion." - Rosie Danan, bestselling author of The Roommate
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 329 members
My love for Diana Biller and this book make this review difficult to write because I LOVED IT SO MUCH that I'm incoherent about it.
Maria Wallner wants nothing more than to restore her family's hotel to it's former glory. However, strange things keep happening at the hotel and no one can quite figure out what's going on, though Maria's life seems to be constantly in jeopardy. Witness to many of these oddities is Eli Whittaker, a government official from the US who is in Vienna investigating stolen secret codes. Though he staunchly does not want to get involved with this alluring hotelkeeper, he cannot seem to keep his mind off her.
The Viennese setting was absolutely fabulous and had me wishing I was in Vienna, attending balls and experiencing the opulence of Fasching! Biller's storytelling and writing is fabulous and incredibly immersive.
The real highlight of this book, however, is Maria and Eli's relationship and how it grows. Eli is pretty gruff in the beginning but soon shows his true colors and is seriously SO SWEET. Omg and the spice - THE SPICE. You get a virgin male hero and an experienced heroine and let me just tell you, it is some of the best spice I have ever read.
You absolutely do not want to miss this one - it comes out March 28th and I will absolutely be pre ordering!
Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an eARC in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
Sweeping romance with espionage, humor, and some very interesting characters.
This story is so unique. It is not the typical historical romance that you have read. This is more like women’s fiction with a historical twist.
This story offers something for every reader. A wonderful cast of characters with a fabulous and unique storyline that engages you with every turn of the page.
A family full of secrets, a government office with some interesting issues, spies who everyone seems to know are spies, attempted murders at every turn, and building romance with a surprising twist.
Biller has a wonderful way of telling a story that envelops you completely. I love the humor and fun she built into the book. Chaotic wildness, strange family issues, and a strong, steamy romance that sucks you in.
Overall, Hotel of Secrets is a whirlwind of a story I think you will love! And that cover? Perfect!!
When I grow up to be a proper author, I want to be Diana Biller. Deceptively simple blurbs that make me feel like a shrug emoji inevitably end up being incredibly absorb-able books that I can't put down once I start reading them.
I loved the dynamic between Maria and Eli and the way that Biller negotiates their romance and character arcs. All of them are written compassionately and deftly, but she's also not afraid of the comedic aspect of the situations that the characters find themselves in. It reminded me very much of a 1940s romantic comedy, in the ability of the book to find romance in the absurd (or the absurdity in the romance...I'm not sure :) ). Of course, the on-screen (on page) sex is much hotter than the 1940s movies ever found themselves.
My only quibble is that the ending of the "mystery" felt a little too "whip the curtain back" with information we never knew, as opposed to clues on the page. BUT I concede that this isn't primarily a whodunnit; it's a romance and gorgeous portrayal of a city that I love, with an intriguing-enough mystery to keep me engaged.
Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Griffin for my copy of the ebook ARC. All opinions are mine alone.
This book is going on my list of best books I read in 2022 - I absolutely loved this! The characters- Eli, Maria, Josephine, Mac, Hannah… the list goes on and each one was such a wonderful part of the story! I have already pre-ordered this and urged all my followers to do so as well.
I'll be grabbing her backlist immediately!
This book is such a fun read! It has mystery, culture, history, humor, drama, and of course an romance (which is my favorite). And if you love a buttoned up hero, this is absolutely the book for you! I loved it and will be reading it again! I would highly recommend!
Always consider myself team Historical Romance, and this was no different. I enjoyed getting to dig into 1870s Vienna, and the Hotel was a character unto itself.
I'll definitely be reading this again and more books by Diana Biller. Definitely worth a read!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this book for my objective review!
Publication Date: March 28, 2023
Maria Wallner descends from a line of women who have run the Hotel Wallner, that is until her mother got her hands on it. Now the hotel is in need of repairs and a reputation overhaul. As she prepares to host the hotelkeepers ball at the height of Ball Season in Vienna, Maria encounters Eli Whittaker, an American tasked with locating the individual selling American codes from a certain Viennese hotel. As Maria is thrown into the chaos of the spy game playing out in her own hotel, she begins to spend more time with Eli and it isn’t long before sparks fly.
What a breath of fresh air it is to read a historical romance that is not set somewhere in the United Kingdom. Frankly with the exception of A Caribbean Heiress in Paris I don’t think I’ve ever stumbled upon a non-WWII historical romance outside of that setting. If they are going to be anything like this delightful novel then I want more.
Biller did a great job of establishing a historical context for the events of the novel, including what the ball season in Vienna entailed and the financial crisis faced by the Viennese during the events of the novel. Although the societal rules of this time period kind of went out the window.
Our male lead was atypical for a traditional romance novel. He was inexperienced and an introvert especially when compared to Maria who was well versed in physical pursuits, independent and social interactions were necessary by virtue of her occupation. From their very first encounter he was left uncomfortable but yet still intrigued by her boldness. Their chemistry was immediate and quite fiery without being spicy.
I often find historical romances do the romance very well but the subplots are often lacking. This was definitely not the case here. I thought the mystery unraveled and was beautifully integrated into the pacing of the romance itself, and was helpful in showcasing the characters personality traits and providing a catalyst for the events that occur. I enjoyed both aspects of this novel equally.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.
Where do I begin? Ball season in Vienna, 1878. That alone conjures a beautiful picture. But Maria Wallner’s hotel and her indomitable, fiercely independent but gentle spirit pales the setting by comparison. Simply put, I ADORED the characters, the story, the mystery, from cover to cover. A perfectly spun tale of resiliency, feminism, acceptance, drama, and love. This will be a re-read when the physical book comes out. I have to have it in my hands. 😍
I have absolutely nothing negative to say. Well done, Diana!
A beautiful romance and mystery woven together! Diana Biller is a new to me author and I am excited to read more from her in the future. Definitely recommend this book.
A refreshing romance novel set in the glittering world of Imperial Austria! It’s fun to see one outside of London, y’know? Maria is a delightful heroine with a wild family history. Quite enjoyable, and I’d love to read more romances set in the hotel!
Diana Biller’s Hotel of Secrets is one part romance, once part historical fiction, one part mystery. Biller definitely manages to keep the suspense and the romance rollicking along, making for a delightful read.
Maria Wallner has dedicated herself to restoring the Hotel Wallner, her legacy and the family’s pride and joy, to its former luster. To that end, she decides to throw a big, splashy do to indicate the hotel is open and willing for business when it comes to dances and balls during carnival season, no matter how much her family opposes her.
That’s when the attacks by masked assailants start, which proves to be only one obstacle standing between Maria and her hopes of reviving the hotel; another is her selfish mother, who, after four generations of matriarchal ownership, has shirked her duties regarding the business for years, and that, together with Vienna’s economic downturn, means it’s time for a major refurbishment.
Fortunately, Eli Whittaker – handsome American Treasury agent with a mission – is on hand to intervene. He does not want to be involved in Diana’s business – he’s much keener on trying to figure out who’s selling American codes in secret all over Europe to the country’s enemies. A lead draws him to the Wallner, but Maria’s problems are a distraction, to say the least.
Maria and Eli find themselves embroiled in two mysteries which may indeed dovetail together – and a love match which might indeed turn out to be divine. But he’s wedded to his Washington DC lifestyle, and Vienna is her home. Between kidnapping plots and the distractions the guests and her parents provide, will they figure out where they belong?
Great characters + fun mystery + banter + oodles of hero and heroine-based romantic chemistry = Diana Biller, and this book is no different than any of their others (all of which I’ve adored) in that regard. Her dialogue is smart, and the romance as delicious as a Viennese pastry.
This is a great romance – filled with wit and life. Eli is very internalized, and very conservative while Maria is more passionate and bold. Her love of her hotel and of Vienna glows brightly in her every action. But her love for Eli is just as beautiful. Their connection goes from annoyance to love to lust to desire, and it’s wonderfully handled.
Maria’s grandmother is definitely my favorite supporting character, but there are a lot of wonderful folks floating about in the prose. Biller knows how to create people you love and loathe, and relationships you root for. Every bit of it is fantastic.
In the end, Hotel of Secrets doesn’t quite manage to climb above The Widow of Rose House for me, but it landed just a notch below that auspicious novel. It’s quite a great ride, and fans of romance, of mysteries and of good historical fiction will likely gobble it up.
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This book is an absolute delight! It has mystery, music, culture, history, humor, drama, and of course an incredible romance. And if you love a buttoned up hero, this is absolutely the book for you! I loved it and will be reading it again!
This book was a fun historical fiction romance/mystery. I liked the multi-generational feel and the setting of the hotel. I really loved the male MC, I felt like he was different and likable. The romance was great and I found myself turning pages to find out what would happen.
A fizzy delight of a book! I was swept away by the unique setting and delicious banter. Can't wait to read more by Briller!
Hotel of Secrets is a wonderful tale that held my interest from start to finish. Set during Vienna in the late 1870s, it is part mystery, part romance and a whole lot of fun!
Maria Wallner has been hard at work trying to bring her family’s once splendid Hotel Wallner back to its former glory. Eli Whittaker, a guest at the hotel, is a U.S. Treasury agent sent to Vienna to find out who stole codes from the American Legation there--an assignment that he believes is a wild goose chase. The sole lead he has for his investigation is a letter that was sent from the Hotel Wallner.
Several attempts on Maria’s life keep bringing Maria and Eli together, as he always is on hand to save her. Their relationship is both tender and funny as the two try to figure out what they are to each other amid increasingly desperate attempts by unknown parties to sabotage the hotel’s revival and/or to kill Maria.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, there are numerous funny moments in the book, many of them involving Maria’s complicated family and loyal members of the hotel staff. Maria and Eli are a marvelous couple, easy to root for and like; both with an enormous, untapped capacity to love. It was a pleasure to follow their adventures as they discover the many secrets of Hotel Wallner.
Thanks to #NetGalley and #StMartinsPress for the ARC!
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