Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough. Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart? Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together.
As those who have been following me for any length of time know, I absolutely adore White’s books and own many of them. With the exception of mildly cringe titles, at times, they are, as a whole, basically perfection. The Number of Love is one of my favorites of White’s books (yes, I will most likely also say this about WOD, but it is true) and re-reading it was an absolute treat, a lovely accompaniment to my hot coffee.
The Number of Love is set during WWI, in the city of London, and revolves around the Old Admiralty Building of White Hall. Room 40 is a fascinating place, I can’t help but love the necessary mystery surrounding it, and serves as a wonderful connecting point for the three books of the Codebreakers trilogy.
The characters are the true source of my love for this book, beginning with Margot de Wilde. We first met Margot in A Song Unheard as a fourteen year old, four years later The Number of Love begins. Margot’s unique way of seeing the world makes her instantly fascinating. The idea of seeing the world as a collection of numbers and equations is somehow both calmingly logical and slightly overwhelming. A central piece of Margot’s story is her faith in God, who is, in her words, the one who she knows is smarter than her. Margot’s faith is tested repeatedly and although she wrestles with it, she finds herself closer to God than ever before, by the end of the story.
Margot is undoubtedly a strong, smart and unusual female character, but she in no way falls into the typical “not-like-the-other-girls” category. She is simply herself, brilliant with numbers and slightly socially awkward and full of plans for her future. As Margot grows throughout the course of The Number of Love she has an important realization, dreams can change or simply be adjusted slightly to allow for new dreams.
Drake Elton is another lovely character, decidedly different from Margot. Drake’s piece of this story is always interesting to read. Drake undergoes quite a bit of character growth as he realizes that his view of women is rather narrow, based solely on his mother and sister. He comes to realize, thanks to Margot and her family, that not all women desire a protector, and truly want a partner to walk alongside them through life. Drake’s letters are wonderfully sweet, and his patient love for Margot is admirable.
Although Margot and Drake both occupy a place on my favorite character list and have for more than a year, it was not until my re-reading that I realized how much I love Dot Elton, Drake’s sister. Dot’s story arc is inspiring, her quiet strength is beautiful and slightly heartbreaking. Dot’s anxiety is incredibly relatable to all readers, including myself, who struggle with anxiety and her determination to push through her fear is incredible. Margot and Dot’s friendship is special and lovely to read about.
Several characters from White’s other books make appearance in The Number of Love. This unsurprisingly includes Willa and Lukas, but more remarkably includes the lovely Duchess Brook of Stafford, known for her energy and outbursts in Monegasque. I absolutely loved seeing Brook in all of her glory befriend Margot, a bit of redemption for her from the way that her character was left at the end of the Ladies of the Manor trilogy.
Although I could continue to ramble about this story and it’s wonderful characters, I will complete this character-centric review, by saying that I recommend this wonder WWI story to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
“Unconventional may be just what this world needs to recover from the tragedy that has beset it. And dreams . . . dreams are only worth pursuing when we have the right person by our side, sí? And the right person is the one who encourages. Who chases the dream along with you.” – Roseanna M. White
Before I go, a couple questions for you, lovely readers, Have you read this book? What book are you currently reading? And did you receive a great deal of snow these past two days?