Thursday, April 11, 2024

Sophia Rose Reviews: The Lisbon Affair by Cat Gardiner


Today Sophia Rose reviews, The Lisbon Affair,  a WWII novel, #1 in Cat Gardiner's Flying With the Swallows duology

The Lisbon Affair – A WWII Novel: Flying With Swallows Volume One by Cat Gardiner

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Unionport Hill Books

Published: 4.2.24

Pages:  335

Rating: 5 stars

Format: eARC

Source: author

Sellers:  Amazon

ADD TO: GoodReads


GoodReads Synopsis:

Volume One in the Flying with the Swallows duology

New York City, 1943: War widow and Best Society’s darling Mrs. Evelyn (Evie) Rousseau Somerset is five months into mourning her husband’s death when her family insists on an untenable plan for her future. Desolate and disenchanted with life, she’s determined to remake herself and prove she’s something more than a useless socialite—regardless of what her senator brother and domineering mother demand of her.

A previous clandestine job at a newspaper provides the escape she’s looking for: a trip to Lisbon, the spy capital of the world, to rescue a family of German Jews stranded in neutral Portugal. While crossing the Atlantic to Lisbon, she meets handsome and enigmatic Carl Wilson, the cocksure, ill-mannered American musician with an agenda and secrets of his own.

Armed only with sophistication and moxie, Evelyn reluctantly welcomes Carl’s invitation to a new world—one that ultimately lands her as a secret agent for His Majesty’s government.


Sophia Rose's Review:

An American socialite recently widowed by the war is determined not to stifle under family duty and expectations, but soar.  A newspaper assignment, a special mission, a sea voyage, a charismatic clarinet player, a city full of international intrigue, and nobody being exactly who they say they are had me hooked.  The Lisbon Affair, Cat Gardiner’s latest WWII fiction effort promised big and was a stupendous hit.


The Lisbon Affair is the first half of a duology that takes place during WWII.  Most of the narration is from young, glamorous, but relatively naïve widow, Evie Somerset.  Evie grew up under the stifling and rigid rules of her mother who was all about family wealth and pedigree showing well before their equals in NYC society.  Evie escaped to a certain extent through marriage, but more so through her secretive job as a newspaper women’s feature journalist.


But, her life changes when her husband’s navy ship goes down.  Evie won’t go back to her mother or follow her powerful senator brother’s demands.  She blazes her own path by demanding her newspaper editor give her a big assignment.  He comes through with an exclusive interview with the former King of Romania’s mistress.  The catch is the interview must be chased down in Lisbon and he begs her to do a side task of finding and spiriting out of Portugal his Jewish relations who escaped Germany, but now are stuck.


The Lisbon Affair was layered with colorful and accurate historical background, vibrant period dialogue, music, and characters, and, of course, at the heart of it all was the story of a woman coming into her own and a suspenseful spy caper with a sizzling low-burn romance.  Evie captured my interest from the start as did that charmer, Carl.  I’ve always wanted more stories like Casablanca and got one served up on a silver platter.


Cat Gardiner has a gift for keeping the story in the lighter tones while writing about dark days and desperation.  I appreciate how emotionally-engaging this story was without getting overly dramatic.  Evie has a huge learning curve to beat, but the woman reaches deep.  Her high society education and polish served her well as did her command of languages, but her guts served her best when she tangled with a crossroads of international espionage and power there in Lisbon


The Lisbon Affair ended on a high note, but showed where Evie will go next and I, for one, can’t wait to get my passport stamped and tag along on her journey.  I’ll be hearing swing music and thinking Portuguese poetry for a bit.  Fans of light WWII spy romances should definitely add The Lisbon Affair to their reading stacks.


Author Bio:

Cat Gardiner loves romance and happy endings, history, and comedy. A member of the esteemed National League of American Pen Women, she enjoys writing across the spectrum of the romance genre from Contemporary to Chick-Lit Romantic Comedy, 20th Century Historical Fiction, and Pride and Prejudice-inspired.

Apart from her husband, her greatest passion is writing Historical Fiction, WWII-era. Her debut novel in this genre, A Moment Forever, was a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award Romance Finalist. Her newest WWII release is up for presale and will be available on April 2, 2024.

The Lisbon Affair, Volume One
Rendezvous in Berlin, Volume Two
WW2 Historical Fiction, Romance, Saga
*An Unforgettable Journey*
Add to your "Want to Read" shelf!

Between writing and WWII home front re-enacting, Cat takes her readers on a swell 1940s journey at The 1940s Experience blog and gallery at

Connect with Cat here:

Sophia’s Bio:

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, piano-playing, and gardening. Road trips and campouts, museums and monuments, restaurants and theaters are her jam. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

As a lifelong reader, it was inevitable that Sophia would discover book blogs and the joy of blog reviewing. Sophia is a prolific reader and audiobook listener which allows her to experience so many wonderful books, authors, and narrators. Few genres are outside her reading tastes, but her true love is fiction particularly history, mystery, sci-fi, and romance. Though, sorry, no horror or she will run like Shaggy and Scooby.






  1. Ending up being a spy had to be exciting and scary.

    1. Oh yeah, I think so, too. The second half of the duology gets more into that part. Intense!

  2. After tasting freedom from a domineering family I wouldn't want to go back either! Sounds like an exciting read! I think I'd enjoy this one. Wonderful review, Sophia!

  3. Sounds like my type of novel. Shame about the spoiler? Ending up being a ***

    1. Sorry if it seems a spoiler. The second book blurb would tell you that so I didn't think it was a big secret.
      Glad you like the sound of this one and hope you can pick it up. :)