HAPPY RELEASE DAY to Rachel McMillan and her new historical romance, The London Restoration!
Rachel McMillan is the author of The Herringford and Watts mysteries, The Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries and The Three Quarter Time series of contemporary Viennese romances. Her next work of historical fiction, The London Restoration, releases in Summer 2020 and takes readers deep into the heart of London’s most beautiful churches. Dream, Plan, Go (May, 2020) is her first work of non-fiction. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada and is always planning her next adventure.
THE LONDON RESTORATION
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: August 18, 2020
In post-World War II London, determined to save their marriage and the city they love, two people divided by World War II’s secrets rebuild their lives, their love, and their world.
London, Fall 1945. Architectural historian Diana Somerville’s experience as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park and her knowledge of London’s churches intersect in MI6’s pursuit of a Russian agent named Eternity. Diana wants nothing more than to begin again with her husband Brent after their separation during the war, but her signing of the Official Secrets Act keeps him at a distance.
Brent Somerville, professor of theology at King’s College, hopes aiding his wife with her church consultations will help him better understand why she disappeared when he needed her most. But he must find a way to reconcile his traumatic experiences as a stretcher bearer on the European front with her obvious lies about her wartime activities and whereabouts.
Hi Rachel! Happy release day!
Q: Tell me some good books you’ve read lately.
Rachel: Anyone who knows me knows I am a voracious reader in several genres and not just inspy so I cannot speak to the content of each book but here’s some books I have loved.
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn is a book I have recommended since I got an ARC in November and read it twice in a row. It’s just so amazingly atmospheric: New York becomes a setting and the hero is a favourite of recent reads.
I beta read for Mimi Matthews and I loved her upcoming Gentleman Jim which is smart and playful. The two leads have insane chemistry and it really riffs on classics like Tom Jones and The Count of Monte Cristo.
My book of the year will probably be Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes which is rich and luscious and achingly romantic and which I read in one sitting and haven’t been able to shut up about.
I am currently reading Beauty Among Ruins by J’Nell Ciesielski and love it!
Carrie: all 4 excellent authors!
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Rachel: I do as much on location writing as I can during research trips for my books. At this point, the book is usually still in beginning stages but it’s where I get most of my descriptive writing in. For The London Restoration having a notebook and sitting in a churchyard or near a hut in Bletchley Park where the codebreakers worked really helps me capture a sense of a place. In places where photos are not allowed, I always jot descriptions.
Thankfully, our lockdown in Toronto is easing out which means I am back to writing in coffee shops and pubs and the library. I like writing where I can feel the collective buzz and energy of people.
Carrie: i’m so happy that you’re able to get back to some of your usual writing haunts 🙂
Q: I love that your books are always set in fabulous cities around the world. Why did you choose London to be the setting for your latest release?
Rachel: London actually chose me. I was on vacation and in London for a few days and though I had spent time in the city previously, I jotted down a few historical places I had never seen before: one was the ancient almost 1000 years old church St Bartholomew the Great. It withstood Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries and the zeppelins of the Great War and the bombs of the Second World War and as I wandered around I was hit with just this overwhelming wall. I was at the time deep in 1930s Boston writing about my anxious hero Hamish DeLuca and had never intended to write WWII ever. But in that church, I was overwhelmed by Matthew 16:18 and a voice very distinctively intercepted me saying “What are you going to do with this passion I have given You?” And I knew in that moment that I had to write these churches and preserve them just as they were rebuilt after WWII and just as Christopher Wren had rebuilt so many of the same churches ravished by the 1666 Great Fire. What a symbol, I thought, to the everlasting life of Christ’s house on earth that the powers of hell may try to ravage, but London rebuilds its churches again and again and again. And I knew I had no choice. Moments later I was already scribbling in a notebook in a café across from Wren’s masterpiece St Paul’s Cathedral and returning to London a year later just to study over 30 bombed churches and their architecture. I look at this as a calling.
Carrie: it’s absolutely a calling & i love that it’s yours!
Q: Which of your main characters in The London Restoration is most like you?
Rachel: It’s hard but I can pinpoint one thing each character has that is SO me. Diana is socially awkward at times and often makes up for feeling lost in situations or not knowing what to say by falling back on facts about Christopher Wren’s architecture. That is a RACHEL trademark to feel grounded and ramble about something I know when I am nervous.
Brent has my sarcasm. I came off from writing two very sweet heroes: Hamish DeLuca and Oliver Thorne and knew I wanted Brent to have a quick edge.
Carrie: i look forward to meeting them 🙂
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from The London Restoration?
Rachel: Never forget that Christianity is steeped in beautiful history. That even as we move into new and contemporary methods of worship and even as our services move from great cathedrals to high school gyms and theatres ( nothing wrong with that, God meets us everywhere) and even as our music shifts form pipe organ to synthesized choruses that men gave their lives to build God’s house on earth knowing they would never see the end product. Stonemasons and woodcarvers and servants were indentured for generations, many told that by building the churches they would be given plenary indulgences (for the early Catholic tradition of England that meant a sure way to heaven). For every brick they lay, they felt they were atoning their sins. For many of the architects behind the cathedrals all over Europe, they knew they would never see the end result in their life time, but they thought it was worth pursuing. Christopher Wren says “architecture aims at Eternity.” I think every person can look at that as a reflection of our faith journey. We cannot see the end result of our time and work on earth but we have to believe that it will have Eternal resonance.
Carrie: amen ♥
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Rachel: I have a book releasing October 6 with Harvest House called A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide which is my ode to made for TV Christmas movies. I am a #hallmarkie obsessed with Made for TV Christmas movies! It contains recipes and party ideas and traditions to help you establish your favourites into your holiday musts! It also has bingo and a choose your own adventures and curated viewing lists to help you align your mood with a perfect movie! It also has themed chapters like A Royal Christmas and A Book Lover’s Christmas. Basically if you or someone you love is into these movies, you HAVE to have this.
Next year, I am releasing The Mozart Code. While not a direct sequel to The London Restoration, it is a companion book featuring two characters readers meet in The London Restoration: Sophie Villiers ( Diana’s best friend at Bletchley Park and former SOE agent code named Starling) and Simon Barre( Diana’s MI 6 handler now leading a covert operation to uncover a lethal double agent in post-war Vienna and Prague). If Christopher Wren is at the heart of The London Restoration, this is Mozart’s book: lots of beautiful music and even the uncovering of his death mask! It is also my favourite romantic trope: a marriage of convenience story. Sophie and Simon might be my favourite couple I’ve written to date.
Carrie: so excited about both of these!!
Thomas Nelson is offering a print copy of The London Restoration to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan?