Category Archives: Historical

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3) by Deanna Rabourn

A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3)A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Treacherous Curse
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #3
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 16, 2018

Summary:

Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy’s curse in a thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

Review:

I have yet to read a Deanna Raybourn book that I did not like. I might not like particular plot points, but I liked, okay loved, all the books. I have to say though, the Veronica Speedwell books are my favorite.

Veronica is a woman after my own heart. I just wished I had her strength of character. She does as she believes is right, regardless of what others might think. I don’t know how realistic this is for the Regency time period or any time period, but I love her anyway.

She doesn’t have much use for most men and even Stoker is subject to her managing ways. Most of all, she is funny. A lot of the humor is found within her thoughts rather than what she actually says or does, but it is quoteworthy nonetheless.

He proceeded to lecture me for the next quarter of an hour, about what I cannot say, for I turned my attention to the contents of the packing crate. I had long since discovered upon my travels that men are largely the same no matter where one encounters them. And if one is prepared to let them discourse on their pet topics of conversation, one can generally get on with things quite handily without any interference.

As for managing Stoker, she knows him, and herself, well.

I pressed my lips together, holding back the question that rose to them. Whatever had caused him to react so strongly, he had no wish to share it and I had no wish to pry.

(I have pledged myself to honesty in these pages, gentle reader, so I will admit that in point of fact I had a rather ferocious wish to pry, but I had learnt through painful experience that Stoker responded far better to the oblique approach than to more direct methods . . .)

And just a general touch of humor:

I turned to the post, sorting the various envelopes into pigeonholes. BILLS TO PAY. BILLS TO PRETEND I HAVE NOT RECEIVED. LETTERS TO ANSWER. LETTERS TO IGNORE. LETTERS FROM TEDIOUS PEOPLE.

Been there, done that. Haven’t you?

I just realized that I haven’t said a word about the plot. The entire thing turns around a archaeological find in Egypt. There is a missing team member, a missing (or was it stolen) diadem belonging to an Egyptian princess. And to just stir things up, a woman from Stoker’s past. Just how does Stoker feel about her after all these years?

If I have any criticism of this book, it is the use of words that I have never heard before. Just as an example: eclose, froideur, exsolutus, and vulneraverunt. The silver lining is that my vocabulary is definitely increasing. Thank goodness for my Kindle. It was able to define most of these for me.

Having said all that, my initial thought when I reached the last chapter was “when is the next book coming out?” As I said earlier, I love the Veronica Speedwell books and I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6) by Deanna Raybourn

Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6)Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Twelfth Night
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Lady Julia Grey
Pages: 51
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date: June 1, 2014

Summary:

To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed (and eccentric) March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George. What’s more, their only lead is the local legend of a haunted cottage and its ghastly inhabitant—who seems to have returned.

Once again, Lady Julia and Nicholas take up the challenge to investigate, and when the source of the mystery is revealed, they’ll be faced with an impossible choice—one that will alter the course of their lives…forever.

Review:

I should have reviewed this book when it was first released. I certainly was anxious to read it at the time. Unfortunately, I procrastinated and then forgot to write the review. The silver lining to that is that it forced me to re-read the book in order to finally review it. I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Twelfth Night is a short story, not a novella, in the Lady Julia Grey universe. If you are not familiar with these books, you have a treat in store for you. You don’t want to start with this one because it is full of spoilers from the previous novels.

I am glad I re-read it at this time because it is definitely a Christmas holiday book, although it does not take place exactly at Christmas. It is a family book as is appropriate for the holidays with family members we love and those we only tolerate, as well as one or two that we would rather avoid altogether.

The best thing about re-reading this book now is that I am once again excited about the Lady Julia Grey books. I see a re-read of the entire series in my near future. If you are new to the series, the author appears to have finished writing them, so you will be able to read them as quickly as you can without having to wait for the next book to be published. I assure you it was hard to wait. They are so good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1) by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1)Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Death Below Stairs
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Kat Holloway, #1 (also called A Below Stairs Mystery)
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Review:

First, read the prequel to this book – A Soupcon of Poison. It’s less than a hundred pages, but really sets up the background for Death Below Stairs. The prequel is wonderful and I was anxious for the first actual novel in the series. What do you mean I have to wait two years before it is published?!?

Guess what? Not only did I score an early reviewer’s copy, I got it almost five months before the publication date. And this book was so worth the wait.

Jennifer Ashley is a wonderful author. Some authors write really well in one genre, but lose me when they write something different. She is definitely not one of those authors. I discovered her years ago as a science fiction/romance author writing as Allyson James. I don’t know if I found her historical or paranormal books next, but it doesn’t matter. I love them both. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie will always be one of my favorite books in any genre.

Anyway, Death Below Stairs is set in Victorian London and focuses on a cook for the upper classes name Kat Holloway. She is an excellent cook and has little trouble obtaining a new position when it becomes necessary. She also has the unfortunate habit of finding dead bodies.

And that is the true focus of this series.

These are historical novels. Yes, there is a developing romance, but it is strictly a subplot. The heart of these books is a mystery. It’s not necessarily just one mystery either. There is a murder, of course, but the why is just as interesting as the who.

Speaking of interesting, to me, it is not the mystery or the romance that makes these books so engrossing. It is the details. Kat talks about the dishes she prepares for the family in the house as well as the servants. It’s not tedious at all. It adds flavor (and yes, that pun is intentional) to the story. And while the family is integral to the plot, it is the characters below stairs and their lives that I find fascinating.

I am not normally a fan of historicals, but the author makes the events so compelling that I am tempted to delve into a little nonfiction reading just to get more of the background. It’s not needed, but my interest has been piqued. Just who were the finnegans?

I highly recommend anything by Jennifer Ashley, but if your taste runs to historicals, you will love this book.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

The Girl Who Knew Too MuchThe Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Author: Amanda Quick
Series: n/a, but I hope so
Pages: 400
Publisher: Piatkus
Date: May 16, 2017

Summary:

Amanda Quick, the bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part,transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins…

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool.

Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago.

With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…

Review:

The 1930s is a new time period for Amanda Quick, aka Jayne Ann Krentz. I was a little nervous about this book because this period is not a particular favorite of mine. However, it is an Amanda Quick book, so I had to read it as soon as I could get my hands on it. I was thrilled to score an early reviewers copy MONTHS ahead of time.

I don’t know why I had any doubts. Of course, the book is great. I have never read one of her books that wasn’t. Oliver is an alpha male who is used to people doing what he tells them and Irene is an independent woman who doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do.

Yep, classic Jayne Ann Krentz.

Poor Irene. The bodies keep dropping around her. It’s not her fault, but it’s obvious that she is going to be one of them soon if they don’t find the “bad guy.”

And Oliver never wanted to be involved in finding a murderer, but when one of the bodies is found at his very private and exclusive hotel, what’s he going to do? He’s not completely sure Irene is not involved. She is a journalist after all.

Both Irene and Oliver have secrets in their past that they are not sharing. Could they have anything to do with the current string of murders?

I guess you’re going to have to read the book to find out.

It’s a great book with plenty of plot twists and strong supporting characters. There’s one in particular that I want to have his own book. There’s no mention of a sequel, but I really, really want one.

-sigh- And now I have to wait FOREVER for another book by JAK. Whatever it is and whichever name she uses, I know it will be wonderful.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Quote-tastic Monday: Dawn’s Early Light

“Quote-Tastic Monday” is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  Head on over there to see what everyone else is posting about this week.quote-tastic final with green border

I am still reading The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series and I still love them.  I am on book three now and as I said in my previous post, these are great books because of the story, not the individual lines.  However, that doesn’t mean there are not some great individual lines.  The ones for today’s post exemplify the characters personalities.  And that is what makes these books so fun.  The characters have great personalities.

So without further ado . . . Quote-tastic Monday!

Wellington Books was being entirely too obtuse, a trait Eliza attributed to his gender.

A night out with a colleague, a bar brawl, and a lead. The night with Bill had not been a complete loss.  — Eliza

Around Eliza, the unexpected was rather to be expected.  —Wellington

I love them.  Of course, Wellington and Eliza are falling in love.  They just aren’t ready to admit it, even to themselves, yet.

 

dawns-early-light

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Quote-tastic Monday: The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

janus-affairSome books are good, but it’s really the individual lines that make the book.  Others are good, but you can’t pick out any piece of text or dialogue to explain it.  The Janus Affair is one of the second.  I love this series.  I believe it is the first pure steampunk series I have read and I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get back to them.  I read the first two when they were initially published and never noticed when the rest of the series came out.  I am making up for that now.

In these books, there is a gender role reversal, especially for the Victorian period.  Eliza Braun is a Ministry field agent, or at least she was, and Wellington Books is the Archivast – not a librarian as he is quick to tell you.  And yes, I do love their names.

Anyway, the most memorable line so far is from Books when he is talking to Braun,

“Admittedly, yes, but even you, the South Pacific Angel of Wanton Destruction and Calamity has to sleep sometime.”

And that pretty much describes Eliza and her penchant for explosives.

There are five books in the series and a the first book in a spinoff series was published in 2016.  I really, really need to get caught up on my TBR mountain.

“Quote-Tastic Monday” is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  Head on over there to see what everyone else is posting about this week.

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Quote-tastic Monday: With This Ring (Vanza, #1) by Amanda Quick

Yeah, yeah.  I know it’s Wednesday.  As a matter of fact, this isn’t posted yet and it may even be Thursday before I get it together.  Don’t ask about my week.  Just don’t ask.

Now for a little background.  The hero of the book has decided that the heroine, Mrs. Poole, should stay at his estate for a couple of days for her own safety.  He summons the butler to give him his orders.

“In the morning you will inform Mrs. Poole that she cannot leave Monkcrest until the day after tomorrow at the earliest.”

“You wish me to stop Mrs. Poole from leaving?”  Finch’s jaw unhinged.  He swallowed twice, very quickly, and recovered his composure.  “M’lord, such an action may not lie within my power.  Mrs. Poole is a very forceful lady.  I’m not sure the devil himself could stop her if she took a mind to vacate the premises.”

I love it and Finch is right.  “Forceful lady” is putting it lightly.  Force of nature would probably be more accurate.

I read this series when it was first released back in the late 90s and early 2000s.  They were great then and have definitely stood the test of time.  I am enjoying a reread after so many years.  It’s like I have discovered them for the first time.

If you are not familiar with Amanda Quick, that is the pen name for Jayne Ann Krentz when she is writing historicals.  She also writes science fiction as Jayne Castle.  It doesn’t matter what name she writes under, they are all wonderful.

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