Member Reviews

Thief vs thief. Estranged spouses. A thrilling adventure full of glamour, wit, danger, and sparks. The suspense of who would win the prize and whether both their hearts would survive! A true page turner!! Spectacular dialogue and the descriptions of the places, buildings, and people made me feel like I was looking at pictures not just reading words. And in true J’Nell style there were a few unexpected twists and turns.
Esme is glamorous, quick thinking, a little underhanded, and afraid of commitment. Jasper is devastatingly handsome, brilliant, charming, and wants a life different from his patriarchs.
“I’ve made many mistakes and I’m bound to make many more, but the greatest mistake I could make would be to let you walk away before telling you I am absolutely mad about you. Desperately, hopelessly, incandescently, maddeningly in love with you “
This ARC was provided through NetGalley by the publisher. I was not required to give a positive review, rating and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely trudged through this book. It's not the type of book I normally read, but I thought it sounded interesting. The writing is fantastic, the setting is interesting, but nothing about this book hooked me. I had to force myself to read it and I could not get into the push and pull dynamic of Esme and Jasper. I love tension, but it WAY overstayed its welcome in my opinion.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction for providing me a copy for review!

Was this review helpful?

** “The devil with belonging. We’ll create our own world and rules, and you will make something wonderful of it. After all, you’ve proven yourself quite the champion of lost causes.” **

J’nell Ciesielski delivers an action-packed heist story with “The Winged Tiara.”

After a hasty wedding at the end of World War I, Esme Fox knows she can’t stay with the handsome and debonair Jasper Truitt. But when their paths cross again four years later — both on the quest for the elusive Valkyrie Tiara, a crown that represents women from the Norse mythology of “who choose who lives and dies on the battlefield” — they find their journeys have become very similar. Both, seeking to improve upon their pasts, have turned to heists to validate their identity.

As they both work against, and sometimes with, each other, can they capture the elusive tiara, as well as reclaim their initial feelings toward each other?

Ciesielski creates a story filled with many capers, but also includes moments of levity to lessen the tone. She develops characters that struggle with their identities as they both come from what were not considered socially acceptable beginnings. Readers will be able to relate to the flaws and doubts Esme and Jasper have.

She also includes some good themes, like being vulnerable; fighting to make something of one’s self; being accepted on one’s own merits; and finding a sense of belonging.

Fans of her “Jack and Ivy” series, historical fiction, especially war-era stories, as well as action-packed characters like Clive Cussler’s Isaac Bell and dynamic duos like Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence and The Thin Man’s Nick and Nora will love “The Winged Tiara,” which is due out Aug. 13.

Five stars out of five.

Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy through NetGalley for my honest, unbiased review.

Was this review helpful?

Oh my goodness, this was such a fun adventure! As the story begins, we meet Esme after she has just married a near stranger Jasper... and leaves him the next morning. Four years later, their worlds collide again when they both find themselves on the hunt to steal the same treasured tiara. What follows is a great cat and mouse adventure across Europe... all set in a wonderful 1920s setting. There was fantastic banter and sizzling chemistry between the two, and I couldn't help but love the back and forth between them. It was a unique story that kept me guessing right through to the very end and enjoying every minute of it. If you're looking for a fun adventure romance, this is certainly one you'll want to experience for yourself.

While this is from a Christian publisher (Thomas Nelson), it should be noted that it is not marketed as Christian fiction and does not contain any faith elements. There is also some content that readers might not expect from this particular publisher... the story starts with a couple (married) waking up in bed together, so there is definitely some implied intimacy and innuendo as well as some minor language. It's definitely closed-door, but just more than readers might expect from this publisher.

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This is a fast-paced race across Europe for this married but separated couple, Jasper and Esme, who both want to fine a special "Winged Tiara" for their respective clients. By delivering the tiara, they can prove which of them, the Phantom or the Fox, is the best thief in Europe. They both have a lot to prove and a lot to lose if they don't bring the tiara to their clients. The twists and turns in this book will keep the reader guessing as to who will end up with it in the end.

There is danger, romance, travel and competition in this book. Set right in 1922, during the roaring 20's of Europe there is so much going glamour and wealth that these two thieves could make a killing stealing all of the jewels and expensive collectibles they come across, yet they only want the tiara. Their histories of being "bastards" in an era where being born out of wedlock limits prospects also fuels their competition.

I liked how the author kept getting the tiara in their grasps then it goes away. This is definitely a cat and mouse type book and an interesting story with the clients that want to have the tiara as a prize. Some parts are predictable but others definitely are not. Esme and Jasper also have a good back and forth dialogue and the people they meet along the way definitely add to this. Just wait to read about "The Egg", that is definitely an interesting part of the story.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Was this review helpful?

The Winged Tiara by J'nell Ciesielski was such an enjoyable book to read. It takes place in Europe after WWI in the dazzling 1920s.

We are introduced to Jasper and Esme who, 4 years prior, were hastily married and only 24 hours later, Esme believes she's made a mistake and runs away. Years later, they are reunited, both jewel thieves after the same prized item, the Winged Tiara, and the race to see who 'gets' it first begins.

I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions with each other, The author wrote the bantering between them so well. They are both hilarious and very amusing.
There are some surprising twists and turns that made this story a lot of fun to read.

I really enjoyed this book. This story will thrill you. It has intrigue, humor, a sweeping romance, and exciting adventure.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishing for an early copy in exchange for a honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This is an exciting story about two famous thieves, who happen to be estranged spouses, in a race against each other to find an elusive tiara. Jasper and Esme had a whirlwind marriage that was over before it had barely begun. Four years later they are brought together again while searching for a one-of-a-kind winged tiara. At first they work as rivals trying to outsmart each other. Later, they must join forces to outsmart a new player in the game. It is an exciting race through 1920’s Europe that the reader is taken on. The chemistry between Jasper and Esme is strong, but they have some serious obstacles to overcome. I love the complexity of this author’s characters. Their strength and their vulnerability. I definitely recommend this story. This is my honest opinion based on the complimentary review copy sent by NetGalley and the publisher. I was not required to give a favorable review.

Was this review helpful?

As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to get this in my hands. Recently, I've grown quite a obsession with historical romances that aren't based in the regency/Victorian era. Give me something a little different! The premise was too up my alley and for a minute, I was scared it wouldn't live up to what it was trying to sell. Too many times a perfect-sounding story turns out to be the world's biggest disappointment. While I had a few qualms, it absolutely did.

We have a commitment-phobic Esme and heart-been-broken-but-too-proud-to-admit Jasper. This was a double pov so we had insight to both of them but I'd say, Jasper was the star. He felt more strongly, he was wittier, and his backstory was more nuanced. Such a sentimental, smart fool... Now, I still adored Esme. I just think she didn't care as much about their estranged relationship as Jasper. She was focused on the prize just a little bit more, which makes sense since her life was on the line, unlike him, who was doing it for the title.
(Though I'd like to believe he subconsciously gave up that reason the second he saw her hehe).

Heads up, if you're looking for a complex realistic heist, look away. This had a run for the imagination plot that I'd expect to see in a satirical spy movie, which made it light and gave room for fun scenarios. The dialogue was the highlight: flirty, witty, quick quips. And the casual-ness between them. Like they had been together for years rather than one (1) day. Just the simple scene of them sipping champagne while discussing the next move. You guys don't know each other!!! Oh but they do...

Which brings me to my qualms. I wanted: more. As I said, I liked the simplicity but it had the capacity to go ALL the way and be more than just a cat-and-mouse game. This type of story provides such a great canvas for angst and back-and-forth that wasn't availed to its fullest potential. I wanted it to be longer, have more grovelling, more anger... more everything. Secondly, the fade to black. I acknowledge this is published by a Christian publishing company and I reckon this probably scandalised its usual readers but idgaf! My imagination isn't that wild, I need words to form the picture. That weak description of a chaste kiss and time skip threw me all the way off. I know the author had restraints but I can't help but wonder what it would be like if it was bought by Diana Biller's publisher, sheesh.

<i>I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.</i>

Was this review helpful?

4.5 / 5.0 Stars

A delicious romp through Europe - post World War I. Two burglars are on the same quest to quench the desires of their demanding employers. Who will be the victor? Can they both win at this game? Only time will tell.

This was an action packed race to the prize with lots of derring-do, creative thinking on the fly and some near-death moments. The romantic tension between the two lead characters was sustained throughout the story. The mise en scène was elegant and cinematic. The characters were well developed and the writing never lagged. I could hardly put the book down. This was an exciting read and all I can say is that I can't wait for Ms. Ciesielski's next wonder-filled story.

I am grateful to author J'nell Ciesielski and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, for having provided a complimentary e-copy of this book. Their generosity, however, has not influenced this review - the words of which are mine alone.


Publisher:‎ Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: August 13, 2024
Number of Pages:‎ 352
ISBN: 978-0840721204

Was this review helpful?

Lovers to enemies to lovers with perfect banter and sizzling chemistry? Um, yes please!

The Winged Tiara sucked me into the world of the roaring twenties in a game of cat and mouse and rich historical details. The author has a beautiful writing style, easily bringing both the characters and the setting to life ✨

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by J’nell Ciesielski!

(The book did toe the line with some content that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable at any point. This will definitely not be a book for everyone, but I’m very glad it was one for me!)

Was this review helpful?

I received a free-arc of this book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
I liked the banter and feel of the writing which was reminiscent of an old movie like Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief. The action scenes were fun and kept my attention. The will they/won't they between Jasper and Esme was cute, but did get a rehashed so much (but keep in mind that I'm not a big romance reader so I'm probably not the intended audience). The descriptions of women's clothing was very appealing to me as well.

Was this review helpful?

Separated couple Esme and Jasper, professional thieves, are each chasing the same object. They keep bumping into each other on a journey through several European countries. Who will win this conquest?
The Winged Tiara is a well written feelgood story with beautiful scenery and adorable characters. A highly entertaining read.

Thank you Netgalley and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the ARC.

Was this review helpful?

An over the top luxury in a post war world. This book is just lavish, sinister, and so fun. It has to be a movie. A historical action movie is a thing, right? Mr& Mrs Smith vibes with an art heist. The Italian Job meets The Crown.

Was this review helpful?

Such a great story that I couldn't put down!
This author really knows how to make her characters come alive and make you feel like that you're a part of their lives.

Was this review helpful?

The Winged Tiara began in a manner that startled, yet intrigued me. The journey of two people who had lived through so much uncertainty and self-doubting to a place of understanding themselves and their unique gifts and abilities was well-developed and thought-provoking. While it took me a bit to arrange the many characters in my head as the story progressed, Ciesielski developed them beautifully and brought the reader to an unexpected, yet satisfying conclusion. Well done!

Was this review helpful?

This book was an incredibly fun romp. It was well-written and exciting thanks to an engaging plot and enjoyable banter. It was so different from what I usually read, yet I couldn't put it down.

I'm really tempted to give this book five stars. I could easily forgive that the book is predictable in some places and requires major suspension of disbelief in others, because the plot was just so fun. Ultimately, however, I felt the book was lacking the redemption arc I might have hoped for; these characters are not heroes, but survivors focused primarily on self-preservation (with some exceptions). I just wasn't quite convinced that Jasper and Esme could have a healthy relationship. The focus was mostly on physical chemistry, even though everything stayed pretty closed-door.

It was still an incredibly fun book - just know that if you're expecting an overtly Christian book from Thomas Nelson, this one isn't it. It's moreso an exciting escape and adventure novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the free eARC. I will post this review on Goodreads, and also on Amazon upon publication.

Was this review helpful?

The Winged Tiara by J'nell Ciesielski is a glorious post-WW1 heist that is opulent, dynamic and utterly electrifying

The first impression was the pace of the dialogue and the worldbuilding, perfect for the era, rebuilding after the first great war, art deco, style and a whole new world of excess - which brings us to the day that Esme Fox wakes up, realises she's married and does a bunk to get out quick smart!

Four years later and Esme's husband, Jasper Truitt, is a renowned jewel thief and on the prowl for a bejewelled Valkyrie tiara. However, he locates it in the most unlikely place; on the head of his estranged wife who he has not seen since she disappeared. Esme is after the tiara for an Opera singer and as such, she is not going to let it go

A rollicking great adventure that rampages across Europe. A fantastic read!

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas Nelson Fiction | Thomas Nelson and the author J'nell Ciesielski for this scintillating ARC. My review is left voluntarily and all opinions are my own

Was this review helpful?

Wow! More than 5 stars for this book! I honestly feel like this could be the next Jason Bourne movie! A marriage doomed from the start, notorious thieves, a winged tiara, and a crazy chicken! The imagery is amazing! I felt like I was traveling along with Jasper and Esme on their quest.

The characters are written brilliantly! Jasper is swoon worthy! Although he is suffering from a shameful family secret and a wife who disappeared on him years ago. He is loyal, romantic, and a gentleman. Esme is a strong and determined woman. She presents as a porcupine, but her heart is tender. Lamb cracked me up! He's full of mischief!

The theme of second chances is apparent in the story. Jasper and Esme get second chances with estranged family. Their marriage also gets a second chance. The epilogue of the book is a fantastic happy ending!

I was provided a complimentary copy of the book from Thomas Nelson via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This book was everything I was looking for - a wonderful romance, excellent plot and dialogue between the characters, and a story that kept me turning the pages late into the night! J'nell Ciesielski is writing that classic kind of story that is not very common nowadays - attention to historical detail, characters you like and root for, and an ending that is satisfactory in every way. I highly, highly recommend this book!

Was this review helpful?

The story begins with two people whom barely know one another, end up married, they had quite a celebration of the War finally being over. She sneaks out, and leaves Jasper asleep, but Esme and Jasper's path cross again!

These two are professional thieves, and each wanting the same coveted winged tiara, and we are there for the banter and danger that surrounds the lifting of this elaborate piece.

As we search for the tiara, we are privileged to delve deeper into their personal lives.

You wonder, even with the attraction between them if these two can ever end up together? I did love the epilogue that the author gifts us with!

Enjoy!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.

Was this review helpful?