D. M. Quincy has written a series debut novel. “Murder in Mayfair” is an Atlas Catesby Mystery and the first one in the series. The story takes place in 1814 in England, where Atlas and friend have stopped at an inn for some sustenance. After hearing a commotion in the yard, they investigate and find that a husband is auctioning off his wife to the highest bidder. Sensing that the woman is high born and disgusted at the spectacle taking place, Atlas makes a winning bid determined to see her to her family. However, the woman, Lilliana, has been forced to leave her two boys behind. When the woman’s husband is murdered, Atlas must solve the mystery to keep himself and Lilliana from being suspects. As the story continues, there are many suspects to choose from.
I thought the novel was well planned and executed. The characters were very likable and I enjoyed reading about the time period as well. I have a feeling that Ms. Quincy’s series about Atlas Catesby and his puzzles will be well received and successful. I will be looking for the next book in the series.
I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.
I really enjoyed reading “An Independent Woman”, written by Anna Jacobs. The story is set in 1918 right after the end of the Great War in England. Ernest Fleming is a slum lord, gambler, womanizer and all around pitiful person. It begins with Serena Fleming, his daughter, caring for her dying mother. Serena knows that the end is near and before she dies, her mother reveals a secret that she has been harboring – the fact that Ernest Fleming is not Serena’s real father.
Serena has spent her life cowering under the hateful and vicious actions of her father and she is overwhelmed with gratitude that she is not descended from this madman. Serena’s brother Frank has been listed as missing in action and presumed dead and she has no reason to stay under Ernest’s thumb. She is to come into her inheritance from her aunt when she turns thirty which is in a few weeks. She plans her escape from the Fleming house carefully so that Ernest has no clue that she is planning on leaving and fighting for her inheritance.
Meanwhile, Marcus Graye has come home from the war wounded in body and spirit. The Hall has been his family’s home for years, but the dissolute actions of his uncle and cousins have left the manor house in more ruin than grandeur. He and his family have been conned and cheated by Ernest Fleming too and the family lawyer is attempting to find out the true condition of the estate. Marcus and Serena are thrown together by the viciousness of Ernest Fleming and they determine to outsmart him and his hooligans.
I thought that this book was a wonderful read. First of all I always enjoy books written about this time period and I especially enjoy novels about Britain and its lords and ladies. Women’s suffrage is becoming a rallying cry for women at this time and this plays a role in what transpires as the story continues. I highly recommend this book.
I received a Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.
In England right before the start of the First World War a young teen-age girl, Maria, who from the age of two lived in an orphanage where she learned to be an excellent seamstress, was summoned to Buckingham Palace to be a part of the staff. While there her choices and behavior dictated the rest of her life. In “The Forgotten Seamstress”, Liz Trenow writes a fictitious account of the seduction of a naïve young girl who is dazzled by the attentions of the young Prince Edward, heir to the throne of England. Her skill with a needle brings her to the rooms of the Prince to alter a garment for him. He initiates meetings with her and soon they become lovers. When the Prince is called to war, mind you, only behind the lines and in no danger, he promises that he will return and will continue to write. After a while, there are no letters and no further contact between them. However Maria is left with a lasting remembrance of the Prince and their affair. A few months after the Prince has gone to “war”, Maria is swept away by one of the palace’s staff to an insane asylum where she and her “fantasies” about her relationship with the royal son are dismissed as those of a lunatic. The story comes to light as we follow a young woman who inherits a beautifully made quilt and tries to find the story behind the creation. Even though this story is fiction, as I read, I could imagine exactly this scenario happening in real life, especially during the beginning of the twentieth century.
I did enjoy this novel, but I must say that it took a few chapters before I fully understood what was going on. The book skipped back and forth from 1918 to present day and following the story was at times difficult. This story was written so well that after I was finished reading I was almost convinced that this story was true. Ms. Trenow has a knack of bringing history to life and intertwining her love of fabric and its history with the characters.
I was received complimentary Kindle copy of this novel by NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.
In “The Hidden Thread” by Liz Trenow, Anna Butterfield is traveling from Suffolk to her aunt and uncle’s home in London. Her mother is dead following a long illness, and Anna has cared for her and for her father and sister, Jane during this time. In order to be able to provide for her family it is necessary for her to marry well. To this end, she is sent to her aunt and uncle’s home in London. Her uncle is a very successful silk merchant and it is hoped that Anna will be presented to society and thus find a desirable husband.
These are turbulent times in London in 1760. Silk is being smuggled into England at a reduced price and the weavers and cloth makers are losing their jobs because the price of goods has dwindled to the point that people are starving. Smuggled goods bring in no taxes, so the merchants are getting richer while the poor workers are destitute.
On her way to her new home, Anna is aided by two young Frenchmen, whom she later finds to be weavers of fine cloth. This class of society is beneath her, or so her aunt warns. She is forbidden to have any contact with them. Instead, she is paraded in front of a friends’ son, a pompous dandy. The novel continues as we discover how Anna uses her talents to design cloth and is in partnership, secretly, with one of the French weavers to produce silk cloth. After the silk riots threaten her family’s security, she must decide if she wants to be a proper lady in society or pursue her dreams.
You can always count on Ms. Trenow to write an engaging story. Her family had been silk weavers in Suffolk for three hundred years, which inspired this story set during the 18th century.
I was sent a complimentary Kindle copy by NetGalley.com.
“The Reluctant Duchess” by Roseanna M. White is a novel set in Scotland and England in 1912. Except for the use of horses and carriages along with motor cars, I would have thought this novel to be set in regency England because of the storyline.
Lady Rowena Kinnaird has never felt good about herself. Because of the way her father treated her all her life she had a poor opinion of herself. The man she hoped to marry damaged her in the most horrific way and her father blamed her. She prayed to God to help her, but even He seemed not to hear. When repercussions of the attack by her former unofficial fiancé began to make themselves known, it was clear to her father and ladies’ maid, Lilias, they would have to devise a way to save her reputation and honor.
Brice, the Duke of Nottingham, is very flirtatious with the ladies and quite an influential man. He is duped into compromising Rowena so that her father finds them and demands that Brice provide satisfaction. Rowena does not wish to go along with this charade, but has no choice.
Not only is Brice compromised, but he is also trying to bring a thief into the open. His family is the owner of priceless jewels that supposedly have been cursed, but are still sought after by others. Lady Pratt seems to be the one who would do anything to have the jewels and the money that they would bring to the right buyer. Brice is determined to smoke her out. He also is beginning to fall in love with Rowena and she with him. Between the two of them, they plan a ruse to catch whoever is desperate enough to kill for the jewels.
Although I enjoyed the story very much, I had trouble keeping up with the characters. I frequently had to go back to the beginning of the book to check out the list of characters to see where they fit in the story. My interest was not as intent on the story as I would have liked and I think that this is the reason.
I received a complimentary print copy of this book from Bethany House.
“The Chilbury Ladies” Choir” by Jennifer Ryan is a novel that brings to light the resourcefulness of women in times of struggles and want. The village of Chilbury was like any other small village in England in 1940. Most of the men, young and not-so-young, were serving in the military, trying to stop Hitler’s Nazi machine from invading. This left the women and girls of the town on their own. In spite of the shortages and constant worry, the women tried to make the most of their situation. The church’s choir was disbanded by the vicar because there were no men to sing. The women were not happy about this and welcomed Ms. Primrose Trent, a music professor, into their midst. She decided that they could have a wonderful all-women’s choir and went about making it happen contrary to the vicar’s wishes.
Even though Chilbury was a small village, there was plenty of intrigue, illegal activities, romances, broken hearts, and life and death. Told by letters and journal entries of some of the most notable characters in the book, the reader is transported back to pre-war England. Even though war has not formally been declared, preparations are being made for a possible invasion by the Nazi’s. Chilbury is only twenty plus miles from Calais, France – a mere stepping stone for invasion. There are spies, black market thugs, and nefarious activities happening. This book shows that even through all this upheaval, people can come together to make the most of their difficulties. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, through their music, charms and inspires the residents of the area to take heart and keep up the spirit.
I loved this book. I read it in one day because it was so interesting and there was so much going on amongst the characters; that I just couldn’t wait to read. I received a Kindle copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for my honest review.
Rachael Miles has written quite an adventure in “Chasing the Heiress”. This novel is set in the time after the Napoleonic War. Lady Arabella Lucia Fairborne worked with her officer father on the battlefields tending the wounded soldiers. Colin Somerville was involved in the war as an officer and now was engaged on a mission for the Prince. Lucy had to escape from her avaricious cousin before he murdered her and Colin needed help finishing his mission. This story’s adventures were never-ending. Even though they were just “friends” Colin and Lucy became more than that as they travelled together. Lucy was on the run and Colin was to protect her, but somehow she was caught and went through untold horrors at the hands of her cousin and his cohorts. I think you will enjoy this fast-paced novel set in an England where class reigned. Aristocracy and servants were not to mix nor mingle. See how this works out in this offering from Ms. Miles.
I received a print copy of this book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.