July, 1579. Called upon to help a family friend who is horrified at the return of her errant husband after an absence of thirty years, little does Ursula realize that her involvement in the Harrison family's domestic dramas will lead to a case of cold-blooded murder.
Matters become even more complicated when Ursula is summoned to court to assist in negotiations for Queen Elizabeth's possible engagement to the Duke of Alencon. The proposed marriage between the queen and a French Catholic twenty years her junior is causing unrest throughout the kingdom. There are many who oppose the match - but would someone kill in order to prevent it?
Tensions increase when a prominent nobleman is accused of murder. Ursula is convinced the man is innocent - but can she prove it?~Goodreads Blurb
Over all, A Deadly Betrothal is another well written installment of author Fiona Buckley’s Ursula Blanchard Mysteries. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of the series, then no worries. You can easily start here and work your way back or forward. There is enough mystery and twists in order to keep you engaged with the story and the characters are filled out from their historical places into their well formed shapes. I enjoy a good historical fiction story and a murder mystery even more so. Unfortunately, Buckley decided to introduce a rape scene into this story that I feel was not even needed, nor did add anything to the story that could not have been written in another format. Sure it gave two characters a needed face-to-face but that could have been rectified with a simple attempt not a hastily written attack. I would recommend this book with the caveat that readers should skip Chapter 25 and pretend it never existed. There are some character flaws but I passed them over, as there is a chance that these traits make sense in past books. All together it is a fine piece of work, though it could have used the one edit I mentioned.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Severn House in exchange for honest feedback*
The thrilling tale of Sherlock Holmes’ daughter and her companion Dr. John Watson Jr. as they investigate a murder at the highest levels of British society from the USA Today bestselling author.
1910. Joanna Blalock’s keen mind and incredible insight lead her to become a highly-skilled nurse, one of the few professions that allow her to use her finely-tuned brain. But when she and her ten-year-old son witness a man fall to his death, apparently by suicide, they are visited by the elderly Dr. John Watson and his charming, handsome son, Dr. John Watson Jr. Impressed by her forensic and deductive skills, they invite her to become the third member of their deductive team.
Caught up in a Holmesian mystery that spans from hidden treasure to the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880, Joanna and her companions must devise an ingenious plan to catch a murderer in the act while dodging familiar culprits, Scotland Yard, and members of the British aristocracy. Unbeknownst to her, Joanna harbors a mystery of her own. The product of a one-time assignation between the now dead Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, the only woman to ever outwit the famous detective, Joanna has unwittingly inherited her parents’ deductive genius.
One of my favorite things about the older mystery novel is the comradery between the detectives and their companions. Whether it be Sherlock and Watson or Poirot and Hasting, there is always this sort of master and apprentice relationship going on. “The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes,” has made the irksome decision to throw a bit of romance into it. Coupling that with the name-dropping of familiar names and it becomes quite clear who the baddies are and what happened even by chapter 4 entitled “Christopher Moran.” There might have been a slight mystery around who Joanna Blalock might be if the book wasn’t called “The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes.”
Throughout the entire book, all of the characters seemed to be the children of Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. The ones that weren’t, simply were there to be discredited or move the story along. I suppose this would be a good book for a younger set that may not have read the Sherlock Stories but for someone who enjoys the stories in their original and the more modern counterparts, this story felt like a mimic of the originals.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Minotaur Books in exchange for honest feedback*
Investigative team Blake and Avery find themselves entangled in a case involving political conflicts, personal vendettas, and England s first celebrity chef.
London, 1842. Captain William Avery is persuaded to investigate a mysterious and horrible death at the Reform, London s newest and grandest gentleman s club a death the club is desperate to hush up. What he soon discovers is a web of rivalries and hatreds, both personal and political, simmering behind the club s handsome facade. At the center is its resident genius, Alexis Soyer, the Napoleon of food, a chef whose culinary brilliance is matched only by his talent for self-publicity.
But Avery is distracted, for where is his mentor and partner in crime Jeremiah Blake? And what if this first death is only a dress rehearsal for something far more sinister?
Drawn in by the cover and held in by the writing, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was in fact the third in a series. Though the first book seems to have been set in India, this one is held in Victorian-ish London and I really enjoyed it. It stood very well on the strength of its own writing and was able to get away with the few leaning bits that it did have. As someone who loves a good food story and a decent mystery, I found M.J. Carter’s book a great thrill. There are a few characters that I really didn’t connect to and I believe that may be do to my lack of previous knowledge rather than a blight on Carter’s writing.
That all being said and I must say I did enjoy the story once I was able to immerse myself, I have to admit that I found that there was quite a lot of detail that I didn’t need. It reminded me of Dickens and some of the other authors of that time period who were being paid by the word. I understand that the author must have put considerable amounts of research into her story and it seemed as if she pushed all of it into this story. I love finding out little bits and things the author has come across in their research but I think there were definitely times when I could have used less in order to speed things along. I’m looking forward to going back and adding the first two of the series to my TBR list, and would recommend this to fans of the genre and Carter’s following.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam in exchange for honest feedback*
"My daughter's not just run away - she's dead!' When Mary Corbet walks into private investigator Jennie Redhead's rundown Oxford office one pleasant spring day in 1974, she is a desperate woman. Although she's convinced her daughter has been murdered, she can get neither the police nor her husband to agree with her.
Jennie is not convinced either, but more out of compassion than conviction agrees to take the case. The only clue she has to go on is a fragment of an obscure 17th century poem she finds in Linda's bedroom: Or will you, like a cold and errant coward/Abandon all and make a shivering turn. But from that one clue Jennie's investigations will lead her beyond the city's dreaming spires to Oxford's darker underbelly, in which lurks a hidden world of privilege, violence and excess.~Goodreads Blurb
Set in 1970s Oxford, there is a new generation growing up and getting into trouble. Sally Spencer’s newest series is lead by a female PI named Jennie Redhead(oh and spoilers, she has red hair.) There is lots of little character bits which make this an entertaining and interesting read. With the warring class distinctions in Oxford, with the students acting as the upperclass to the lower town folks, there is bound to be some struggle between them. Spencer has managed to not only portray these two classes with some skill, she also has added some historical information about the colleges and the cultural elements of the late 60s early 70s.
While I am not often too keen on characters with whimsical names, as it can sometimes show a laziness on the writer's part, I was able to look past that quite easily in this case. Author Sally Spencer has put in the work and brought forth a series that has left me waiting for the next one. It isn’t an all out blood and guts mystery and yet I wouldn’t go so far as to lump it into the cozy genre of mysteries. I would say this is a good book to sit back and enjoy with a glass of wine and a nice blanket. The mystery was well written and the female characters were rarely lumped into cliche stereotypes.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and Severn House in exchange for honest feedback*
A pseudonym used by Alan Rustage. Sally Spencer is a pen name, first adopted when the author (actually called Alan Rustage) was writing sagas and it was almost obligatory that a woman's name appeared on the cover (other authors like Emma Blair and Mary Jane Staples are also men).
Before becoming a full-time writer, he was a teacher. In 1978-79 he was working in Iran and witnessed the fall of the Shah (see the Blog for what it was like to live through a revolution). He got used to having rifles - and, one occasion, a rocket launcher - pointed at him by both soldiers and revolutionaries, but he was never entirely comfortable with it.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer