Reviews for Hotel of secrets : a novel

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

For Maria Wallner, orchestrating the Hotel Wallner's "Triumphant Return" is her only priority for 1878. The Vienna hotel fell into disrepair when her mother ran it (Elisabeth was more interested in entertaining Maria's father, Baron Heinrich von Eder, much to the dismay of Heinrich's wife), but Maria has a plan: host a magnificent ball for Fasching, Vienna's carnival season. Eli Whitaker is an American treasury agent staying at the hotel while he investigates the leak of vital codes to the Russians. He is not interested in balls or waltzing, but he can't ignore a situation gone wrong, and when Maria is attacked by an assassin, he puts his considerable investigative skills to the task. Biller's latest, following The Brightest Star in Paris (2021), is a page-turning confection, with humor that sparkles like the crystals in the Hotel Wallner's restored ballroom. Maria and Eli are each supremely competent and not interested in love; Eli's journey to acceptance is especially moving. A large cast of characters, including a blasť French spy, Maria's tough-as-nails grandmother, and her lover, rounds out this novel that combines immersive historical details, political intrigue, and family secrets with a steamy romance.


Publishers Weekly
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Biller (The Brightest Star in Paris) transports readers to sparkling 19th century Vienna for a unique and wonderful tale of intrigue and espionage. Maria Wallner, manager and jack-of-all-trades at her family’s Hotel Wallner, is thrilled when the Wallner is chosen to host the famed Hotelkeepers’ Ball, hoping to use the event to restore the financially strapped hotel to its former glory. Meanwhile, American secret service agent Eli Whittaker is in Vienna on a tip about American codes being stolen and sold—and Maria is among his suspects. When Maria is repeatedly targeted by a mysterious attacker, however, Eli’s first instinct is to keep her safe and catch her assailant, throwing his carefully ordered investigation into chaos. As the pair grow closer in the dramatic run-up to the ball, Eli wrestles with the possibility of Maria’s involvement in code stealing—until his heart takes over, and his primary focus becomes their mutual attraction. Biller’s eclectic cast brings the refreshing setting to vibrant life while the intriguing mystery and mounting passion between the leads unite to keep the pages turning. Historical romance readers—especially those looking for a break from Regency England—will be dazzled. Agent: Amy Bishop, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Mar.)


Library Journal
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Maria Wallner comes from a long line of women who have navigated the treacherous waters of Vienna politics. It is now up to her to save the family's legacy, a grand hotel that has hosted the Imperial court and the aristocracy of Europe. She is on the eve of triumph when, so subtly she first cannot register the events, someone begins to plot her death. U.S. agent Eli Whittaker encounters Maria on a snowy street, just as the first attempt on her life takes place. He has been assigned to track down whoever is selling U.S. intelligence and has trailed the case to letters posted from her hotel. As the great and not-so-good converge in her lobby, Maria must navigate a swirl of deadly secrets. In this story with touches of Amor Towles's A Gentleman in Moscow and dashes of Evie Dunmore, the stalwart Maria finds in Eli an able ally, and he finds in her salvation. VERDICT Biller's (The Brightest Star in Paris) novel, set in 1877 and casting back through Maria's family history, starts in a tangle of storylines but quickly casts a deeply engaging spell, pulling readers into an effortless and fun yet serious read, rich in banter, chemistry, friendship, and danger.—Neal Wyatt

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