Category Archives: Historical

The Devil You Know (McKenna Brothers, #2) by Jo Goodman

The Devil You Know (McKenna Brothers, #2)The Devil You Know by Jo Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Devil You Know
Author: Jo Goodman
Series: McKenna Brothers #2
Pages: 416
Publisher: Berkley
Date: May 3, 2016

Summary:

WHAT HE DOESN’T KNOW . . .

After a horse drags him through the countryside, Israel McKenna awakes bruised and battered in a field in Pancake Valley, Colorado. He can recall where he came from and where he was going, but the memory of how he came to be on the Pancake homestead eludes him. He’s certain he did something wrong to deserve such a harsh punishment—and so is the beautiful woman who reluctantly comes to his aid.

. . . COULD HURT HER.

Wilhelmina “Willa” Pancake must focus on running her family’s ranch. With Israel’s hazy memory, she is unsure if she can trust him, let alone handle the budding attraction between them. And as men fight to steal her land and the truth about Israel’s past rides toward them, love is a risk she cannot easily take.

Review:

This is my first book by Jo Goodman, but it won’t be my last. Although the main plot and subplots are serious, there are some laugh-out-loud parts as well. And I love that about a book.

The first character introduced is Annalea Pancake. It was a few pages before I realized she was not going to be the female lead. She is only ten years old. Well, almost. She will be ten in eight days as she is quick to tell Israel. Anyway, she is a wonderful character. She says whatever is in her head and there are some strange things there.

Her sister Willa, however, is not so quick to trust people. She does not keep her opinion to herself, but she does not let anyone in either. Given that Israel has amnesia and can’t be honest even if he wanted to be, there were bound to be problems.

I thought the book was a little long. It didn’t really drag, but I kept wanted something to happen. Then all of a sudden it did. There was a “yeah, I saw that coming” bit. Then there was a “wow, I didn’t see that coming at all” twist. And finally, a “Holy Cow! I wasn’t expecting that!” Yeah, when this book got going, it really got going.

I did not realize that this was the second in a series. There was nothing on Goodreads about it (a correction I have made) and even the author site does not list the connection between the two books. However, book one, A Gun for Hire, is definitely part of the same world. It’s okay to read The Devil You Know as a stand alone. I did, but I wish I had read the other one first.

Of course, now I have it to look forward to.

As I said to start with, this will not be my only Jo Goodman book.

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

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‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

'Til Death Do Us Part‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick

Title: ‘Til Death Do Us Part
Author: Amanda Quick aka Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: n/a
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley
Date: April 19, 2016

Summary:

Calista Langley operates an exclusive “introduction” agency in Victorian London, catering to respectable ladies and gentlemen who find themselves alone in the world. But now, a dangerously obsessed individual has begun sending her trinkets and gifts suitable only for those in deepest mourning—a black mirror, a funeral wreath, a ring set with black jet stone. Each is engraved with her initials.

Desperate for help and fearing that the police will be of no assistance, Calista turns to Trent Hastings, a reclusive author of popular crime novels. Believing that Calista may be taking advantage of his lonely sister, who has become one of her clients, Trent doesn’t trust her. Scarred by his past, he’s learned to keep his emotions at bay, even as an instant attraction threatens his resolve.

But as Trent and Calista comb through files of rejected clients in hopes of identifying her tormentor, it becomes clear that the danger may be coming from Calista’s own secret past—and that only her death will satisfy the stalker…

Review:

The description of this book is not correct regarding the “trinkets and gifts” Calista is receiving from what we would nowadays call a stalker. However, they are the same sort of thing. The term, which I had never heard before, is momento mori and I am completely creeped out.

Who knew there was ever such a thing?

It’s not like Calista doesn’t have enough problems. She is a businesswomen in an era when respectable people did not work, much less a woman. Her “introduction” agency is doing well, but the slightest bit of scandal will drive her clients away. She has a nineteen-years-old brother who is staying out late and probably associating with the wrong sort. She is being left funerary trinkets by an unknown person . . . one of them in her bedroom.

And then there is Trent. Trent, whose sister is a client of Calista’s. Trent, who thinks Calista might be after his sister’s money, or at the very least will introduce her to a fortune hunter. Trent, who is the most interesting man Calista has ever met.

Many of Amanda Quick’s books have a mystery and suspense element to them. This one, however, takes it a step further. I think it is the whole momento mori aspect that makes this book seem more disturbing than the others.

Which does not mean it isn’t good.

The primary characters are classic Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz. The hero is strong and protective and the heroine can think for herself. The secondary characters have well developed personalities and the villain is easy to hate.

The only difference is that the villain in this book is really, really creepy.

Which doesn’t mean that the plot is completely serious. Trent is an extremely popular author and everyone who meets him thinks he needs their advice on how to improve his books. Watching him trying to remain polite to his readers was fun to read.

All in all, this book was a pleasure to read and that is never a surprise by this author. It does not appear to be part of a series, but who knows?

By the way, momento mori jewelry can be purchased on Etsy and Ebay. I am NOT looking into it myself. Did I mention I find it creepy and disturbing?

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

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A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox, #1) by Charles Finch

A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries, #1)A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: A Beautiful Blue Death
Author: Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox, #1
Pages: 309
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Date: June 26, 2007

Summary:

On any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse next door.

One of Jane’s former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead — an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in the girl’s death.
When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again — disturbingly close to home?

Review:

What to say? What to say? I almost didn’t finish this book. If I had not made a commitment to review it, I probably would have quit a hundred pages in.

And that would have been a mistake.

It’s one of those books that grows on you. It is slow moving, but not slow if that makes sense. The story takes time to build. It is a murder mystery, of course, although there is a touch of a relationship developing. It is far more concerned with friendships than romance and that is a nice change of pace.

Twice, I figured out who the murderer was and I was wrong both times. That, to me, is a sign of a good mystery. When the crime was finally solved, I never saw it coming. Again, a good sign.

So why did I almost give up on this book?

I think Charles Lenox is misrepresented. He comes across as a 60+ old man with a querulous nature who only wants the comforts of home. He’s an armchair traveler who never quite actually goes anywhere, no matter how much planning he does in arranging trips.

He’s forty-years-old.

Forty!!

I like him. He has a Sherlockian mind and, like Sherlock, helps Scotland Yard with crimes they cannot solve . . . whether they want him to or not.

But he does not come across as forty.

And that’s my only criticism of the book. Charles Lenox is just not believable in the way he is portrayed.

I liked the book, but I didn’t love it. I’m glad I finished it because it really was a good mystery. I’m tempted to read the rest of the series (there are nine of them so far), but I don’t feel compelled to jump into the next one.

Again, what to say? What to say?

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

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A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Mackenzie & MacBride, #8.5) by Jennifer Ashley

A MacKenzie Clan Gathering (MacKenzies & McBrides, #8.5)A MacKenzie Clan Gathering by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Mackenzie Clan Gathering
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzie & MacBrides, #8.5
Pages: 190
Publisher: InterMix
Date: November 17, 2015

Summary:

Ian Mackenzie is awakened at Kilmorgan Castle one night to find robbers stealing the priceless art collection of his oldest brother, Hart. Since Ian and Beth are the only ones in resident at Kilmorgan at the moment, Ian decides he must find the art and the culprits before the family shows up for Hart’s birthday gathering. With Inspector Fellows and Beth, he investigates, though Ian is somewhat worried by Beth’s late husband’s brother, a retired missionary, who decides to visit. Does John Ackerley hold the “cure” to Ian’s madness? And can Ian discover what has happened to Hart’s treasures, and who is targeting the Mackenzies before the enemy strikes again?

Return to Kilmorgan Castle to visit the Victorian branch of the Mackenzie family, and catch up on the brothers and friends, their children, and their lives.

Review:

According to the author, this was supposed to be a book about the Mackenzie clan, hence the title. Although the entire clan is well represented, this is an Ian book and I AM SO EXCITED!

I love Ian. I love Ian and Beth. I love seeing Ian cope with the world without giving up who he is. And I really love this chance to see how much he has moved forward with his ability to interact with others.

Even though this is a relatively short book (less than 200 pages), there is so much to it.

First, a new character is introduced.

Beth’s former brother-in-law John is introduced and he thinks he has a “cure” for Ian’s madness. I was not certain whether or not he was evil or just misguided. Ian does not need a cure. His “madness” is what makes him Ian. However, the scenes where he talks about his family and the things that were done to him were disturbing and enlightening. What was really heartbreaking is when Ian wondered if Beth wouldn’t be better off with a “normal” man.

And a mystery needs solving.

Someone is targeting the Mackenzies or are they really after Hart and why? It’s not like Hart doesn’t have plenty of enemies after him. Who is going to suffer in the attacks?
And it’s Christmas!

Even with “the cure”, and burglars, and physical attacks on the family, Christmas must go on.

Of course, everything works out in the end. The bad guy is caught. Ian and Beth are fine. And Christmas goes on.

The best part of the book was seeing how Ian’s mind worked. He and Beth have been married for ten years and she and the children are the center of his life. Like any human, he questions his decisions. He wonders if he is good enough for his family. He worries about the stigma is children will have because their father is mad.

His daughter Belle nails it though.

“‘Papa,’ Belle said to Ian as Beth settled Megan. “Aunt Eleanor says you’ve asked Uncle John to cure you of your madness. But you’re not mad, Papa.” Her expressive face furrowed, “Centric, certainly. Not mad.”

She goes on to explain about how she’s been reading about madness and Ian doesn’t have any of the symptoms. Ian tries to tell her it’s a different type of madness.

“There isn’t another sort,” Belle answered with conviction. “I’m going to be a doctor, you know. I’ve been studying.”

Beth and Ian have no response to that and Belle goes on to say,

“You see? You are not mad, Papa. You may cease worrying about it.”

And out of the mouths of babes, that is that.

Read this book! I’m not sure it’s not the best of the series and that’s really saying something.

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

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1001 Islands by K. T. Munson

1001 Islands1001 Islands by K.T. Munson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: 1001 Islands
Author: K. T. Munson
Series: n/a
Pages: 196
Publisher: CreateSpace
Date: July 27, 2015

Summary:

The sliver of moonlight cast eerie shadows across the deck of The Dark Revenge. The Silence at the helm stood embracing the obscurity. His foreboding presence matched the anticipation aboard the ship, and no one spoke for fear they would break the stillness that encompassed them.

Tonight, everything changed.

The Dark Revenge gained on the Regatta. The raiders said nothing but he could hear the shuffle of taut female clothing and the tension in the air. It hadn’t sensed their existence, and drifted like heedless prey. Princess Roxana slept, unsuspecting of what was hunting her in the inky blackness of the night.

There was only one thing on the minds of The Silence’s crew as they drew near; Hang the Kings, Crown the People.

Review:

My opinion of this book changed throughout the reading. At first I didn’t care for it simply because each of the beginning chapters focussed on a different character/situation. I figured they would all come together eventually, but I still found it confusing. I didn’t like the feeling that I need to be taking notes to keep everyone straight.

However, when the plots did come together, it was wonderful. I really liked all of the “good guys” and the “bad guys” all came to a bad end (pun intended). The female characters were strong even if they had been taught they were not supposed to be. The male characters were also strong, but not obnoxious with it. At least, the good guys weren’t.

There was a plot twist in the character’s roles that I did not see coming and I really appreciated. It made perfect sense once it became apparent, but I was totally blindsided up until the reveal.

It’s hard to define the genre. It’s definitely science fiction because it takes place on another planet . . . or is it just another world, one where witches and elementals exist which would make it fantasy? It’s almost historical because of the methods of travel and way of life of the characters. It is definitely an adventure novel (there are pirates after all) with a little bit of romance thrown in.

Like I said, it’s hard to define.

What it is though is good. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the protagonists. I like the way the plot worked out for everyone.

But, . . .

the ending is abrupt . . .

and the author acknowledges that in the notes. She said there is a possibility of further adventures which is all well and good,

but . . .

I don’t like to be left hanging and it reduced my enjoyment of the book.

Read it. The ending is not a cliffhanger; it just doesn’t go far enough to suit me.

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

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Down the Rabbit Hole anthology

Down the Rabbit Hole (includes In Death, #41.5)Down the Rabbit Hole by J.D. Robb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Down the Rabbit Hole anthology
Author: J. D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, R. C. Ryan
Series: contains In Death, #41.5
Pages: 432
Publisher: Jove
Date: September 29, 2015

Summary:

You’re late for a very important date…

Enter a wonderland of mesmerizing tales. It’s a place that’s neither here nor there, where things are never quite as they seem. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s whimsical masterpiece, ranging from the impossible to the mad to the curiouser, these stories will have you absolutely off your head.

Don’t be afraid to follow them…

DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

Contains

Wonderment in Death by J. D. Robb
Alice and the Earl in Wonderland by Mary Blayney
iLove by Elaine Fox
A True Heart by Mary Kay McComas
Fallen by R. C. Ryan

Review:

I grabbed this book for one reason: Eve and Roarke. Wonderment in Death is a short story/novella that relies heavily on the Lewis Carroll Alice books as do all the stories in this anthology. Eve, of course, is not familiar with the books and has to rely on Roarke and Peabody to make the connection.

The story is typical Eve and Roarke. There is a horrific murder or series of murders. Nothing is quite what it seems and it’s hard to tell if the murderer is insane or evil. I don’t know why it makes a difference to me, but it does. For some reason, insane is not as frightening as evil.

Anyway, Robb is able to concentrate on the story without having to worry about any backstory because the series is so well established. There are over forty books after all. The plot progressed quickly, old friends showed up, and the bad guy was caught.

What more can you ask for?

The only story I felt dropped in the middle of was Alice and the Earl in Wonderland. There were many references to a previous story, but enough detail was given to make this one enjoyable. And yes, I’m tempted to find the original story and read it.

The other three stories worked perfectly as standalones. I enjoyed all of them and I am sure other readers who follow those authors will enjoy them as well.

If any of these authors are autobuys for you, this book is worth the price. However, I think you need to already follow Robb’s In Death series to really enjoy her contribution.

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

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The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (Mackenzie & McBride, #8 – prequel) by Jennifer Ashley

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (MacKenzies & McBrides, #8)The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzie & McBride, #8 (prequel)
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: September 29, 2015

Summary:

1745, Scotland: The youngest son of the scandalous Mackenzie family, Malcolm is considered too wild to tame…until he meets a woman who is too unattainable to resist.

Lady Mary Lennox is English, her father highly loyal to the king, and promised to another Englishman. But despite it being forbidden to speak to Malcolm, Lady Mary is fascinated by the Scotsman, and stolen moments together lead to a passion greater than she’d ever dreamed of finding.

When fighting breaks out between the Highlanders and the King’s army, their plans to elope are thwarted, and it will take all of Malcolm’s daring as a Scottish warrior to survive the battle and steal a wife out from under the noses of the English.

Review:

This book is a precursor to Jennifer Ashley’s Mackenzie series and takes place about one hundred years earlier. However, you do not have to have read the earlier (later?) books in order to enjoy it. It is a complete standalone, although I hope she writes additional books in this time period. Just like the Mackenzie family of the 1800s, each of these earlier brothers deserve their own story.

What can I say about this book? Malcolm Mackenzie is the youngest son of the Duke of Kilmorgan. His brothers all call him “runt.” There is Duncan, the eldest, who is to inherit the title, Will the information gatherer, identical twins Alec and Angus, and Malcolm.

Just as an aside about Will because information gatherer needs explaining. This is a quote from his own mouth.

“But I know everything.” Will said. “Whether you want me to or not.”

Now, doesn’t he deserve his own book?

Anyway, there was another brother Magnus, who died as a child. Malcolm is the one found him and it had a permanent effect on his personality. Even though he is the youngest of the family, he feels it is his responsibility to take care of everyone. And that sense of responsibility includes Mary.

Mary . . . Lady Mary Lennox

Mary is the daughter of an English earl who hates the Scots. The book begins shortly before Culloden and the Earl of Wilfort is working to put down those filthy Jacobites.

So, of course, Mary and Malcolm fall in love.

Mary, who has always been an obedient and dutiful daughter. Mary, who is engaged to another man – English, of course.

That Mary falls in love with a Scot and discovers she’s not all that obedient and dutiful after all.

Culloden plays a major part in this plot. I had to make myself keep reading when I realized how important it was going to be to the story because I knew how horrible the battle and aftermath were. I just didn’t want to read about the terrible things that happened. The book was so good though, I couldn’t put it down.

And I was right! Terrible things happened at Culloden. People died. No details, because of spoilers, but PEOPLE DIED!

Was the book worth the heartbreak of reading about Culloden?

Definitely!

Malcolm and Mary are a wonderful couple. With Mary, Malcolm can be human. He can admit he can’t save everyone. And with Malcolm, Mary comes alive.

I highly recommend this book and I really hope the author expands on this series. If you haven’t read the later books, you are missing out.

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

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A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell Mystery, #1)A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Curious Beginning
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell, #1
Pages: 352
Publisher: NAL/Penguin
Date: September 1, 2015

Summary:

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Review:

I have to make something clear right from the start about this book. I loved it! I absolutely loved it! Stoker is wonderful and Veronica is one of my all time favorite heroines. If ever there was a woman who knew what she wanted, Veronica is that woman.

As stated in the description, Stoker and Veronica are “in search of the villainous truth.” The plot has twists and turns. Backstories that are alluded to, but not fully explained. Heroes, or are they villains, keep popping up.
And some of the best dialogue I have ever read. Let me give you just a few examples.

Stoker and Veronica are trying to determine why someone is trying to abduct her and Veronica does not accept his hypothesis at all.

That is a tale straight from one of Mrs. Radcliffe’s thrillers, Stoker. I expected better from you.”

It is a perfectly logical hypothesis, he returned.

Now, do shut up and stop interrupting whilst I’m being interesting.”

I love that last line.

Another one:

Stoker has recently introduced Veronica to a friend of his – another strong willed woman.

“I was merely thinking it may have been a very grave mistake to introduce you to Lady C. If the pair of you ever put your minds to it, you could probably topple governments together.

One thing at a time, dear Stoker. One thing at a time.”

And finally, and this so represents their relationship:

“Of course, as had become our habit, we quarreled over what the end should be — or at least Stoker quarreled and I carried on doing precisely as I wished.”

I adore Veronica. She reminds me a lot of Amelia Peabody (by Elizabeth Peters) or Alexia Tarabotti (by Gail Carriger). If you enjoy either of these series, you will love this one.

I am a big fan of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia books, but this book tops those. I cannot wait for the sequel. No word on that yet, but I’m watching for it.

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

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The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation, #12) by Lauren Willig

The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation #12)The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Lure of the Moonflower
Author: Lauren Willig
Series: Pink Carnation, #12
Pages: 528
Publisher: NAL
Date: August 4, 2015

Summary:

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.

Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

Review:

I resisted reading this book. Not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I did. The Lure of the Moonflower is the last of the Pink Carnation books and I don’t want the series to end. I adore these books. I love the historical sections and I love Eloise and Colin in modern times. I have been dying for Jane’s, aka The Pink Carnation’s, book, but I don’t want it to be over.

-sigh-

It’s over readers . . . and it’s a great ending. All the ins and outs get tied up. It seems like everyone from the previous books either shows up or is at least mentioned. We even get a wonderful “after the book” section telling us what happens to the kids. Don’t call it an epilogue. You’ll understand why if you read it.

There is a twist in Eloise’s and Colin’s storyline that I did not see coming, but it so fits with everything that has gone before.

Jeremy is still smarmy, Colin’s mother is still a pain, Serena is still helpless and needy, and that’s just the modern day characters.

In case you’re wondering, Miles is still addicted to ginger biscuits and Miss Gwen still wears purple and carries her parasol.

This is such a satisfying ending to the series.

Read it! Read it, but not unless you’ve read all the others. I mean it. Right now. Start reading.

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

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Medium Dead (Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, #4) by Paula Paul

Medium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone MysteryMedium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone Mystery by Paula Paul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Medium Dead
Author: Paula Paul
Series: Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, #4
Pages: 188
Publisher: Alibi
Date: April 14, 2015

Summary:

Sure to delight readers of Jacqueline Winspear and Ellis Peters, Medium Dead features Queen Victoria herself—and she’s rumored to have slain a local psychic in Newton-upon-Sea. Now the task of clearing her name and catching the real killer falls to Dr. Alexandra Gladstone.

Under Victoria’s reign, women are barred from calling themselves physicians, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Gladstone. As the first female doctor in Newton-upon-Sea, she spends her days tending sick villagers in the practice she inherited from her father, with her loyal and sometimes overprotective dog, Zack, by her side.

After the corpse of village spiritualist Alvina Elwold is discovered aboveground at a church boneyard, wild rumors circulate through the charming seaside village, including one implicating a certain regal guest lodging nearby. Tales of the dead Alvina hobnobbing with spirits and hexing her enemies are even more outlandish—but as a woman of science and reason, Alexandra has no doubt that a murderer made of flesh and blood is on the loose.

Finding out the truth means sorting through a deluge of ghostly visitors, royal sightings, and shifty suspects. At least her attentive and handsome friend Nicholas Forsyth, Lord Dunsford, has come to her aid. Alexandra will need all the help she can get, because she’s stumbled upon dangerous secrets—while provoking a deadly adversary who wants to keep them buried.

Review:

This is the fourth of the Dr. Alexandra Gladstone series, but it is the first one I have read. I rarely (okay, NEVER) read books out of order, but I made the commitment to review this book before I realized it was part of a series. I’m glad I did. There is enough backstory that I did not feel I was missing something that kept me from understanding and enjoying to book. And yes, I most definitely enjoyed the book.

There were a couple of things I would like to find out from the previous books though. One, what, if any, relationship was there between Alexandra and Nicholas before he became the Earl? And two, where did Alexandra get Zack the dog and why does Zack hate Nicholas? There has to be something going on there.

Anyway, as anyone with a passing interest in Queen Victoria knows, she was deeply in love with her late husband Prince Albert. So much so, that she delved into mysticism and mediums to try to contact him from the grave.

Well it just so happens that there is a medium living in the town where Alexandra is a doctor. The Queen arranges to spend time with Nicholas’ mother in order to consult the medium . . . and the medium ends up murdered the very next day.

Now let me say, the medium wasn’t very likable and won’t be missed, but murder is murder and the culprit must be found.

But could it really be the Queen? And if it is, does anyone expect her to be held accountable for her actions?

Speaking of unlikable characters, I don’t like the Queen. I don’t like the butler. And I really don’t like the Earl’s mother.

But I love Alexandra and Nicholas and I really like Alexandra’s maidservant Nancy. Nancy is bossy and can even take Alexandra by surprise with her managing ways.

The relationship between Nicholas and Alexandra is understated, but still the affection between them is obvious. Nancy and Alexandra grew up together and even though they are servant and mistress, they are also family. It is these relationships that are the backbone of the story, but the mystery itself is well handled.

I have to say I didn’t see it coming.

I should have. The hints were there, but it was handled so well I was completely surprised.

I guess you can’t compliment a mystery better than that.

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

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Filed under Historical, Mystery, Realistic