⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ what happens when a staid government agent is ordered to Vienna to search for who is leaking American codes and saves a drunk woman from getting run over by a carriage on his first night? He realizes that everything happens for a reason and this woman is connected to his case, but also, maybe not.
Hotel of Secrets had it all. There was banter, romance, mystery, crazy families, crazier friends, a woman in charge of her life, and a hotel coming back from the brink of ruin. The first 1/3 dragged for me but after the first, yes first, attempt on Maria’s life, it picked up from there.
I wanted to like this story but the characters just didn’t do it for me. The story, the characters, and the setting weren't engaging in my opinion, I didn't even make it to half the book, I had
Wow, what a way out of my reading slump! This has all of the catnip I could possibly put together, and I’ll attempt a more fulsome review soon. But this book made believe I can take chances on new books again.
Maria, the lead, is driven, passionate, smart, and vulnerable. Eli, the male MC, is a workaholic punishing himself for his parent’s sins with all work and no play. They come together and their various jagged edges just for together. The relationship is beautiful, but rebuilding a hotel and planning a grand ball is even more fascinating.
In 1870s Vienna, Maria worked hard to restore her family's hotel to its former glory. The hotel's success hung in a delicate balance, and the news that she would fall in love that year only added to her stress. Maria believed her mother's love for her father partly contributed to the decline of the hotel. Then, she met Eli, an American investigator who came to Vienna to uncover the sale of secret codes.
This book is an excellent blend of romance, mystery, and character development. Maria and Eli's relationship is heartwarming, and the supporting characters provide comedic relief. There is also a secondary love story that readers will enjoy. The historical setting is richly described, and the non-English location adds to its appeal. The lush city and hotel descriptions make me yearn for a movie adaptation.
Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller had such unexpected depth, and I enjoyed reading this historical romance meets mystery that takes readers back to Vienna in the late 1800s.
Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
There are so many historical romance novels that are set in England – that can be fun but a bit boring. Hotel of Secrets is set in 1870’s Vienna during Ball Season as Maria Wallner tries to restore her family’s hotel to its former glory. The characters are interesting and spies and political intrigue abound. I might not have found it completely historically believable but this was a very fun read. 4 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for an advanced readers copy of this book.
The Hotel Wallner, featured in this book, is a place I would love to visit! The book is written in such a way that you want to join the hotel family and care about what happens. I want to meet Eli for a drink. I want to meet Maria and the her friends.
Maria is determined to bring her family's hotel back from the brink. Eli is determined to not get caught up in personal matters and keep it strictly professional. The hijinks and love story that follow are a fun romp making this a highly recommended fun read.
Went into this on expecting a mystery and ended up with a historical romance. Talk about a plot twist. Yet, I still enjoyed this book. It had a little of everything; excellent setting structure, characters that you invest in from the beginning, and a little bit of smut.
Only issue is, the book starts off strong and ends sort of flat, like maybe we forgot what we were doing or where we were supposed to be heading.
3.5 rounded down
Vienna, 1878. Maria Wallner is the new manager of the Hotel Wallner, which has fallen upon hard times. She lives in the hotel with its two previous managers—her mother Elisabeth and her grandmother Josephine. The aftereffects of the 1873 stock market collapse and ensuing recession were partly to blame for the hotel’s decay, but her mother was not much of a businesswoman, preferring to spend time with her lover, a married aristocrat. Now Maria is focused on bringing about the hotel’s “Triumphant Return to Society.”
One of the new guests is Eli Whittaker, an American Secret Service agent who is in Vienna to investigate the theft of cryptographic codes used in diplomatic messages. (This was back in the days before Presidential protection became part of the Service’s mandate.) Unfortunately for Maria, someone seems quite intent on killing her; luckily, Eli proves quite adept at thwarting those attempts.
Why would a young hotelier be the target of a murder plot? Well, it is a hotel of secrets, after all. It’s not easy for a family of women born out of wedlock (Maria’s dad is the baron Elisabeth’s been sleeping with for decades) to run a prosperous, highly-visible business, and it’s important to have some leverage in that situation. The Wallner women have never really had to blackmail anyone, but they could if it ever came to that. An attraction blossoms between Eli and Maria, but the handsome American is keeping some secrets of his own.
Despite the frequent attempts on Maria’s life (she’s obviously going to survive! This isn’t a tragic sort of book), Hotel of Secrets is a light, fun read, sitting squarely in the “romantic suspense” genre.
Sinister houses were a feature in Diana Biller’s debut, “The Widow of Rose House.” Her newest, HOTEL OF SECRETS (St. Martin’s Griffin, 416 pp., paperback, $17.99), gave me a perfect jewel-box world set in 19th-century Vienna.
Maria is the fourth generation of her family to run the Hotel Wallner, but memories of that glorious past have faded with the years. Now, as the winter festive season begins, Maria is determined to reclaim her beloved hotel’s place among the city’s aristocracy. She has grand plans and a capable team — but there is treachery afoot, there are spies aplenty and secrets from the Wallner family’s past that threaten not only Maria’s business but her very life.
Oh, and a dark-haired, stoic, virginal American Treasury agent whom she absolutely refuses to fall in love with.
I wanted intrigue from this book, and I got it — but there was also more charm and sly humor than I was expecting. Maria is the kind of character who, when she learns her guests are having trysts in the linen closet, dreams up cunning ways to make the linen closets more tryst friendly. Eli, our American agent, is the perfect uptight foil for her sumptuous creativity and one of the year’s best grumps; it was a pleasure to watch him unravel.
One passage in particular sums up the reason I and so many others love historical romance: “Later, they would wake up in the real world, with headaches to nurse and bills to pay and petty quarrels to fight, but right now they were in the magical fairyland of the Hotel Wallner, and they felt as though they never needed to leave.”
Thank you Netgalley, Publishers, and Diana Biller for gifting me a copy of Hotel of Secrets in return for my honest opinion.
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.
I felt so conflicted while reading this. The blurb made it sound like this intense novel that would keep me on the edge of my seat but really it was just kind of blah. We have a virginal spy and then there is Maria who is being attacked by assassins. It was such an odd premise that I couldn't wrap my head around it. It was an odd assortment of characters.
The storyline was ok and it kept me guessing but I wasn't expecting the steamy aspects, which wasn't awful but I just didn't feel like it fit. I did like the mysterious aspect of it and reading about the family drama that was happening. I guess for me I enjoy more of the historical fiction books that lean away from the romance instead of including spicy scenes.
If you are a fan of spicy scenes and historical fiction than this is definitely the book for you.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin & NetGalley for a digital advance reader's copy. All comments and opinions are my own.
If you’re looking for a sizzling and steamy historical romance with a mystery, this is the book for you. Taking place in 1888 Vienna there are spies and secrets, an aristocratic family, friends, and lovers. Most of the action occurs in a currently languishing hotel full of family members and other quirky characters.
Hotelkeeper Maria Wallner is working hard to restore her family’s formerly glamorous Hotel Wallner. American Eli Whittaker arrives to discover who is leaking secret codes and finds himself saving Maria from numerous assassination attempts. It doesn’t take long for the sparks to fly between them in bedrooms, ballrooms, and linen closets.
I didn’t finish this (DNF at 61%) as the plot was convoluted and confusing. The characters reminded me of a Marx Brothers movie with everyone bursting in and out of hotel rooms, bordering on hysteria without the comedy. I didn’t care about the hotel, the mystery, or the characters. It felt like the plot was developed merely to bring the two main characters together for racy intimacy every few chapters.
The cover and description led me to think I would be reading historical fiction rather than lusty historical romance. This was not for me.
Hotel of Secrets. Oh my gosh this book is totally hilarious. I would love to live in a hotel like this! There is fun and excitement at every turn every day all day. The characters are all entertaining and a joy to read.
I was so not expecting this much fun from this book. The plot is totally amazing. The characters put forth one hundred percent method of innocently mucking it up. Laugh out loud. Poor Marie, living a crazy world or a mad world from Eli’s prospective. Oh there were so many quotes that memorable for me.
I love the dialogue between the characters. Each was on time and make perfect sense for them and jokingly humor for us the readers. The story moved pretty steady with stalling. The story keeps moving with great details of the story, the characters and storyline. The descriptive details are very clear when it comes to the emotions and features of the characters and all of their surroundings.
I definitely enjoyed the book. I loved the book. I give this book two snaps and a, who’s ready to have their palm read? Until next time my fellow readers. Read on!
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
#HotelofSecrets #DianaBiller #MacmillanPublishers #NetGally #Goodreads #Bookbub
Usually, I love Diana Biller’s novels. However, I could connect with this one. There seemed to be more fantasy than mystery, which was not what I was expecting. I also did not but the romance. Thus, Diana Biller is an excellent writer. It’s just I love her previous works more.
I think this had a good plot and the protagonist was interesting. Some steamy scenes and some mysterious elements that unfold as the story goes along.
Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC; all opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Maria bore the brunt of her family on her shoulders.
I thought her mother was a simpering fool.
I liked the setting of a hotel in Austria, it’s a different setting.
I mostly concentrated on the burgeoning romance between Eli and Maria. I thought it was very interesting that he was the one with no experience.
The cover is lush and is begging for readers to crack it open.
This was a nice palette cleanser of a book. Cute, quick-witted and fast moving with a dash of Austrian history thrown in the mix. The characters were well-developed and left me wondering what will happen with Mac and Hannah! I've been to Austria once and thought it was magical and the most beautiful place I have ever been to, this book confirmed that. I hope to one day make a trip to Austria (during ball season) and dance in the streets while wine drunk. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
I absolutely adored this book! From the interesting side characters to the beautiful setting I loved everything about this story. Eli, my dear Eli! There’s nothing I love more than when the MMC is totally gone for the FMC and boy did Diana Biller deliver. Maria and Eli’s love story is beautiful, interesting, and so so captivating. The support that Maria had from her family and friends throughout the story made me a little teary eyed. The witty banter and mystery kept me coming back for more. I can’t wait to dig into Biller’s backlist and read more of her amazing stories! Thanks Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the eARC!
All I can say is wow. This book was a jaw dropper and I was so here for it. Diana created such a wonderful and interesting read I will for sure try more from her in the future.
It was really hard for me to get into this book. I really liked the cover and the premise seemed really interesting but the buildup was maybe a little too long for me. The love interest had absolutely no interest in the main character and it could not keep my attention. I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.