The Mozart Code – Rachel McMillan

The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan
Published by Thomas Nelson on March 15, 2022
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Historical, Romance
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From author Rachel McMillan comes a richly researched historical romance that takes place in post-World War II Europe and features espionage and a strong female lead.
Lady Sophia Huntington Villiers is no stranger to intrigue, as her work with Alan Turing’s Bombe Machines at Bletchley Park during the war attests. Her wartime marriage of convenience to Simon Barre, the eighth earl of Camden, granted her the independence she craved and saved his estate. Now, as part of his covert team in postwar Vienna, she uses her charm to uncover a lethal double agent immersed in the world of relics—including the long lost death mask of Mozart. 
Simon is determined to gather any information he can to end the Cold War before it becomes as devastating as the war Britain has just won. He has been secretly in love with Sophie Villiers for years, and their work together in Vienna leads him to hope for genuine romance in their marriage. Until a mission in Prague drives Sophie to a decision that will brand her not only a traitor to her country but also to her husband.
With Sophie’s allegiance in question, Simon is torn between his duty to the crown and saving the woman who might have betrayed his cause and his heart.

I went back and forth regarding rating The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan. Four or five stars? For or five stars? I finally settled on a happy medium—4.5. Outside of novels by Kate Quinn and Kristin Hannah, historical fiction isn’t typically my genre of choice. I can’t identify why, exactly. But intertwining fiction with nonfiction challenges even the best authors, because in some ways, the genre resembles fantasy. You have to transport readers into a world that few have actually experienced. I grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s. I have traveled to Europe, but only to Spain. What I know of Prague and Vienna comes from books, documentaries, and pictures.

McMillan excelled. When reading The Mozart Code, I wasn’t lying in bed, riding in a vehicle, or sitting in the kitchen with my breakfast. She teleported me to post-WWII Europe and tugged me into her tale from the very beginning. Classical music, combined with espionage? You have me wrapped around your finger, and I’ll follow you anywhere. With glee. The Mozart Code had believable threats, challenges, and figurative battles that the characters faced together and apart. McMillan poured warmth into Simon and Sophie’s story—their individually difficult circumstances, and how those hurdles pulled them together. Imperfect characters who fit together perfectly…that’s my kind of story!

They had their disagreements, just like any relationship. Both independent and brilliant. Both passionate, yet both also flawed. I also loved some of the minor characters, and I want to know more of Diana’s story! Upon research, I discovered McMillan has written a book on Diana, which is now added to my TBR pile…at the top. So many authors fail to develop the supporting characters as much as the main ones. That takes away from the story—but not with The Mozart Code. I could tell McMillan loved her characters like they were real people, and she’d spent time with them to learn their histories. If you’ve read my past reviews, you’ve probably figured out that characters are vitally important to me. McMillan did not disappoint.

But why the 4.5 stars instead of 5? With historical fiction and fantasy, sometimes writers can get…distracted. They focus on the trees rather than the forest. A lot of times, this is fine. I had some trouble with The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan. The first part of the book was very slow moving, and I kept putting the novel down. I waited for something to happen. Once the plot started rolling, it rolled with momentum. Maybe because I read the novel with outside distractions, I got lost sometimes.

But I still loved this novel, to the point of calling it one of my two favorites of the year when I finished it. And that’s saying a lot, as The Mozart Code was book number 28 of 2022 for me. If you like Kate Quinn and Kristin Hannah as much as I do, read this book. McMillan earned herself a new fan with The Mozart Code, and I can’t wait to return to her work in the future…probably the very near future.