Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller
March 28, 2023- St. Martin’s
Review by Angela
I really like this author’s words, and how she weaves history, romance, and mystery together seamlessly. Hotel of Secrets is set in Vienna in 1877 and primarily takes place in Hotel Wallner. The Wallner family consists of strong women, who have run the hotel for decades, always only having one daughter, never marrying, and living life on their terms. But, it’s also interwoven with the history of Vienna, and its royal leadership.
Maria Wallner is the current manager of the hotel and is desperately trying to restore it to its former glory, which due to the political and financial upheaval of the region and the mismanagement of her mother, have left it in disrepair. Things seem to be turning around after the New Year’s celebration, and when they are offered to host The Hotelkeepers’ Ball she knows this is their big chance to revive the hotel to its past grandeur.
Eli Whittaker is in Vienna at the behest of the Treasury Department, investigating missing secret codes and his first clue is that the message originated at the Hotel Wallner. He soon meets Maria and sets himself up as her protector when he realizes that her life seems to be in constant danger, he also thinks that the attempts on her life may be connected to his own investigation.
Hotel of Secrets is a standalone, but I’m kind of hoping there are more books set in this world. It is unique to the genre in that it’s set outside both the British Empire and America. This is a glittering, beautiful, tale of royal secrets, murder, and insatiable attraction. The cast of characters is intriguing, with twisted family trees, secret lovers, and spies who aren’t really anonymous. The romantic pairing is uncommon to the genre as well, as Maria is experienced sexually and Eli is not. Their romance is lovely, full of humor and consent. And oh, so sexy.
At times I found some of the historical events and how they affected the Wallner family a bit confusing, but was swept up in the romance of Maria and Eli and the lead-up to The Hotelkeeper’s Ball so I didn’t really care. I will say I was surprised at the villains and their motives. The ending was sweet, but I kind of wished for an epilogue so I could see Eli and Maria in the future, and the Hotel Wallner at its finest.
All in all, a very enjoyable read. Definitely recommend.
I’m really hoping we get to see Mac and Hannah in their own book, and catch up with Eli and Maria there.