Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Read my #BookReview of Hidden Masterpiece (Soli Hansen Mysteries, Book 3) by Heidi Eljarbo @HeidiEljarbo @maryanneyarde


Hidden Masterpiece
(Soli Hansen Mysteries, Book 3)
By Heidi Eljarbo

Publication Date: 15th September 2021. Publisher: Independently Published. Page Length: 260 Pages.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Dual Timeline

In this riveting third book in the Soli Hansen Mysteries series, a woman’s courage to follow her conviction during a horrible war leads her to the portrait of a young Jewish heiress painted three centuries earlier.

Norway 1944. Art historian Soli Hansen has gone undercover to rescue masterpieces and keep them from falling into the hands of Nazi thieves. Working with a small resistance group led by her best friend Heddy, Soli will stop at nothing to thwart the efforts of the invaders of their scenic country. Trust and loyalty mean everything when working against a merciless enemy.

Riddles and clues lead the way to a mysterious work of art. It’s a race against time, but Soli and her network refuse to give up. However, when news arrives that her sweetheart Nikolai is missing in action, she strives to concentrate on the demanding quest.

From the streets of Oslo to the snow-covered mountains and medieval churches of Nume Valley, Soli takes risks larger than her courage, trying to preserve and hide precious art. But she must decide if it’s all worth losing the man she loves.

Antwerp 1639. Fabiola Ruber’s daughter, Annarosa, wants to honor her mother’s last wish and have her portrait done by a master artist who specializes in the art of chiaroscuro. Her uncle writes to an accomplished painter in Amsterdam and commissions him to paint his beloved niece.

Struggling with religious and social persecution, the Jewish Ruber family uproots once again and travels northward. On the way, they will sojourn in Amsterdam for Annarosa’s sitting in the master painter’s studio. But will they make it there? None of them can foresee the danger of such a journey.

Book Rating:

📚📚📚📚📚⭐ = A book in a million

📚📚📚📚📚 = I could not put this book down. I Highly Recommend it.

📚📚📚📚 = A really great read.

📚📚📚 = It was enjoyable.

📚📚 = It was okay.

📚 = Um...! 😕

My Review

Hidden Masterpiece
(Soli Hansen Mysteries, Book 3)

📚📚📚📚📚⭐ = A book in a million

*This review contains spoilers.

Nothing beats the feeling of falling in love with a book! I must admit, I did fear that I would be jumping into the deep end when I agreed to read Hidden Masterpiece (Soli Hansen Mysteries, Book 3) by Heidi Eljarbo as I have not read the previous two books. Thankfully, it soon became very clear that this novel stood very firmly on its own. The author gives her readers enough information to catch up with the story so far without weighing the book down with excessive "catch-up" details. 

The story follows Soli Hansen, an art historian who is also a member of the Oslo Resistance Group. However, Soli is not interested in spying or blowing things up, instead, she brings an altogether different skill to the table—she can help the resistance save as many paintings from the Nazi thieves as she can—the Nazis are pillaging the precious artwork of the countries they occupy. With determined dedication, Soli does everything she can to locate and hide a portrait by the famous 17th Century artist, Rembrandt van Rijn.

This novel ticked all of my boxes. It has a compelling protagonist, a complicated villain, a mystery to solve, a love interest, and a healthy dollop of patriotism and defiance. The occupied city of Oslo has been brought painstaking back to life. The writing was so good that I fancied I was walking the streets next to Soli, pretending not to look over my shoulder and hoping I could pass the German occupiers by without bringing attention to myself. This constant threat made me feel very nervous, and I wasn't even there!! That is how good the writing is. It really did feel like I had fallen through time, and I wasn't so much reading this book as being an active observer.

Soli is my kind of heroine—the accidental kind. She is a scholar, not a resistance fighter, and tries to stay clear of anything violent, although that doesn't always work out for her! She is obsessed with art, and when she stares into a painting, she manages to block out the horrors around her, or at least, put it to one side for a moment. Her excitement at discovering the picture she is searching for was endearing and for some reason, I found it quite entertaining as she tries to make herself invisible while hugging a guitar case at the same time:
(*spoiler: the painting is inside the case.)

Without further hesitation, Soli put on her coat, hat, and boots and grabbed the guitar case. “Please excuse us, we need to collect eggs from the hen house.” 

Heddy’s father took a step toward her and smiled wryly. “Do you need your guitar to do that?” 

Connie stepped forward and handed Soli a basket. “Of course. The chicken will produce more eggs if we sing to them.” 

See what I mean!! Soli and that guitar case are glued to each other! 

Soli is also a woman deeply in love and she spends a lot of time worrying about her sweetheart, Nikolais. But despite her concern, and maybe even because of it, she is determined to continue with the mission and secure the painting's safety.

This novel is split into two timelines. Initially, I was a little confused as to why the author decided to do this as Soli's story is enthralling, but I soon came to understand why the reader also needed to follow Annarosa's story as well. I thought Annarosa's story, the woman in the painting, really made this story unforgettable. Annarosa is a gentle soul, determined to marry for love and desperately missing her mother. She is also very intelligent and this intelligence means there is more to this story than meets the eye. The painting, the ledger, everything is seemingly connected to Annarosa, and because of this there is a kind of fatalistic feeling to her story—Annarosa is a Jewess and her family are facing constant persecution because of their faith. They are forced to uproot and the journey ahead of them is uncertain. This, of course, is a very familiar theme in Europe during World War II, although no one would know where this persecution would end, and no one does in this book. The resistance has no idea what has happened to the Rubers family. But as a reader, we know that they are more than likely dead, and that they will never look upon their beloved collection of paintings again.

If you like a good historical thriller, then this novel is well worth checking out. This book is without a doubt, one of the best books I have read this year. This novel really is a book in a million!

You can find this novel on Amazon. It is also available on #KindleUnlimited

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don't want to go near.

Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.

Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.

Heidi’s favorites are family, God's beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

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  1. I am so glad you enjoyed Hidden Masterpiece (Soli Hansen Mysteries, Book 3). A massive thank you for hosting today's tour stop. We really do appreciate all that you do for our authors.

    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

  2. Oh, my goodness. What a wonderful review. Thank you.


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