The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

the-secrets-of-wishtide-by-kate-waundersThe Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
Series: Laetitia Rodd Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: 1850-1851 England
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: September 13)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
352 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon. Living in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Benson, who once let rooms to John Keats, Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence, her iron discretion, and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family’s new governess—quickly making herself indispensable.

But the seemingly simple case—looking into young Charles Calderstone’s “inappropriate” love interest—soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.

Initial impressions

  • I really enjoyed this book. It’s similar to a number of historical mysteries taking place in Victorian England, but has enough freshness to create a fun, memorable mystery.

Pluses

  • I like that Laetitia (Letty) is an older protagonist (52 years old) than most female protagonists in books.
  • The relationship between Letty and her brother is a nice one. And the antagonism between Laetitia and her sister-in-law is not unexpected. I also think that Laetitia and her brother working together makes sense. I also like the image of Letty’s brother Frederick–a renowned criminal barrister–at home with his wife and ten children!
  • Mary Bentley–Letty’s landlady–is a down-to-earth character and has become Letty’s friend as well as helping with Letty’s investigations.
  • I like that this isn’t the first investigation Letty has done for her brother. This provides more background for the book.
  • The book doesn’t pull any punches.
  • The book has a satisfying mystery.
  • The Calderstone family is interesting and it’s clear to Letty when she becomes a governess to the family that they have lots of secrets. I didn’t figure out all that was happening and was surprised several times during the book.
  • I like the little touches the author adds: that John Keats once lived in the house where Laetitia lives now, for example.
  • The way Laetitia remembers her husband is so nice to read about. They truly loved each other.

Minuses

  • By the end of the book there are many threads to the story. That might bother some readers. It didn’t keep me from enjoying the characters, story and mystery, however.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  •  I’m glad this is the first book in a new series. I look forward to the next book!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info (from Goodreads)

  • Kate Saunders (born 1960) is an English author, actress, and journalist. The daughter of the early public relations advocate Basil Saunders and his journalist wife Betty (née Smith), Saunders has worked for newspapers and magazines in the UK, including The Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph, She, and Cosmopolitan.
  • She has also been a regular contributor to radio and television, with appearances on the Radio 4 programs Woman’s Hour, Start the Week, and Kaleidoscope. She was, with Sandi Toksvig, a guest on the first episode of the long-running news quiz program Have I Got News For You.
  • Saunders has also written multiple books for children and for adults.

Reading Challenges

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A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

a-curious-beginning-by-deanna-raybournA Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: England, 1887
Published by NAL/Penguin, 2015
e-ARC (Release Date: Sep 1, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
352 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: 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.

Cheers

  • If you like historical mysteries set in the Victorian time period and maybe some romance for future books I think you’ll like this book.
  • I love the cover! Beautiful.
  • Veronica is a wonderful character. She’s outspoken and straightforward as well as intelligent. She reminds me a little of some of Amanda Quick’s heroines.
  • Veronica explains her name–Veronica Speedwell (both are names for the same plant) as her Aunt Lucy loved gardening!
  • Stoker is also a good character. He’s steadfast, honest and loyal, but also bad-tempered, gruff and sarcastic at times. However, Veronica has no problem holding her own.
  • After they learn the Baron was murdered they leave London. Stoker is sure the Baron was murdered because of Veronica or even by Veronica. But Stoker promised the Baron to keep her safe.
  • I love Professor Pygopagus’ Traveling Curiosity Show. Very quirky characters! Supposedly they’re Stoker’s friends, but with friends like these you don’t need enemies! It’s a very unique setting.
  • I like that Veronica is a butterfly enthusiast. And Stoker is a naturalist. They have both been on expeditions. Unfortunately, Stoker hasn’t been very successful.
  • To a certain extent this is a buddy book where Veronica and Stoker spend quite a bit of time traveling to try to get away from whoever might be following them.
  • Some of the book was obvious to me even if it wasn’t obvious to Veronica! However, I was quite surprised at the end.
  • The first mystery is more a personal mystery. Who is Veronica? Why are people after her? Who killed the Baron and why? I’m interested to know what mysteries future books have for Veronica.

Jeers

  • As smart as Veronica is I thought she would be more curious about who she is and why people are following her.
  • Veronica carries a flask of a South American liquor, but it seems to last until near the end of the book. That distracted me!

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I read several of the Lady Julia Grey books and loved them. I’m excited to read more in this new series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. Deanna’s debut novel, Silent in the Grave, published in January 2007 featuring Lady Julia Grey.
  • Since that first book she wrote several more about Lady Julia Grey as well as other books and series. A Curious Beginning is the first in the Veronica Speedwell series and this book also takes place in Victorian England.

Reading Challenges

WoW: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

 

 

I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m Waiting-on-Wednesdaylooking forward to coming out in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

 

 

 

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1

Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Genre: Historical Mystery (Victorian England)

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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.

……………………………..

Why I want this book

  • I’ve read some of Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey mystery series and really enjoyed them.
  • I like historical mysteries and Victorian England is an interesting time period.
  • I love the cover!

Review: A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch

a-beautiful-blue-deathA Beautiful Blue Death
by Charles Finch
Series: Charles Lenox Mysteries #1
Genre: Historical Mysteries (Victorian England)
Published by Minotaur Books, 2007
E-book, purchased
324 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to 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 the chance to unravel a mystery.

Prudence Smith, one of Jane’s former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The grand house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prue had dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by the motive for 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 Smith? Or was it something else entirely? And can Lenox find the answer before the killer strikes again—this time, disturbingly close to home?

He had always wanted to be a traveler in his heart, and while he had made it pretty far–Russia, Rome, Iceland–he had never lost that childhood vision of himself, dusty and tired but triumphant, finding something completely new out on the edge of the world.

and

The reason these clubs flourished, Lenox felt, was that this was an age of unusually rigid separation between men and women. He and Lady Jane ignored that separation, but most men spoke very little with women except at parties, and were most comfortable playing a hand of cards or smoking a cigar with their friends, a kind of solidarity encouraged in grammar school, public school, and university, all of which excluded women.

Cheers

  • I enjoy the day-to-day life Charles Lenox talks about. I like hearing about his clubs and the people he meets.
  • Charles discovered he was good at solving mysteries and since he doesn’t need money he never charges anything. He often helps Scotland Yard, but they aren’t very appreciative–though they’re glad to take the credit when he solves a case.
  • Charles agrees to investigate the death of a maid who had once been a maid for his friend Lady Jane. This investigation has a number of red herrings both for Charles and the reader. I did have an idea who the murder was (and I was right!) However, there is more to the mystery than I thought at first.
  • I like Lady Jane. Since she lives next door to Charles and they’re good friends I think she will be included in future books. I hope so.
  • This is not a thriller. More of a quiet mystery, a little old-fashioned perhaps. I enjoyed it. It was a quick book for me to read though the pace of the book is slow and steady! I know that sounds contradictory, but that’s how it felt. And it was great for a cold, winter day to sit by the fireplace and unlike Charles I could sit, stay warm, drink a hot cup of tea and read instead of venturing out in the snowy weather as he had to!
  • Charles loves to plan trips and he collects the maps he would use on those trips. He often has to cancel his trips if he’s involved in an investigation. But he dreams of the trips he might make someday.
  • I enjoy the description of Christmas with his brother’s family.
  • The imagery of the “beautiful blue death” (bella indigo) is great.

Jeers

  • Sometimes there’s an omniscient point-of-view foreshadowing events. This wasn’t necessary and I think the book would have been better without it.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I liked this first book and plan to read more books in the series. I bought several when they were on sale!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book with a color in the title)
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (e-book–$2.99)

TBR Review: The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

the-heiress-effect

The Heiress Effect
by Courtney Milan
Series: Brothers Sinister, Book 2
Genre: Historical Romance–1867 England
Published by Courtney Milan, 2013
E-book, Purchased
280 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

“I worry about you,” he finally said to Free. “I’m afraid that you’re going to break your heart, going up against the world.”

“No.” The wind caught her hair and sent it swirling behind her. “I’m going to break the world.”

and

“Is it a thorny question of ethics? Or is it the sort of ethical question where the right choice is easy, but the unethical answer is too tempting?”

and

“And nothing says lace like…more lace.”

Cheers

  • I’ve mentioned this before, but Courtney Milan does such a good job self-publishing her books.
  • The two main characters–Jane and Oliver–are so well written. I feel I understand them and their motivations. They aren’t perfect people, but they are people I would like to know (if I knew to look beneath the surface).
  • Oliver is the illegitimate son of a Duke. He went to Eton, but wasn’t liked by many of the other students. They felt he didn’t know his place. Slowly he learns he has to keep quiet even though he’s determined to make his mark. I like the fact that Oliver realizes the man who raised him is his father–not the man who sired him. And Oliver loves his mother, father and half-sisters. I like that!
  • Most people don’t look below Miss Jane Fairfield’s surface. She hides in plain sight by dressing in brightly colored often clashing colors with three or four different kinds of lace or perhaps beads. She talks loudly and often says impertinent things to people. Society people laugh at her behind her back. They are polite to her face since she’s an heiress with $100,000 pounds.
  • Oliver comments that poisonous plants and animals are brightly colored to tell everyone “I’m poisonous. Don’t touch!”
  • Jane isn’t easy to know in society since she’s trying to camouflage herself so men won’t want to marry her. If Jane marries she would have to leave Emily with her guardian.
  • The supporting characters in the book are interesting, too. There’s even an additional romance which I enjoyed and continues the theme of the book–look below the surface.
  • The book isn’t a fluffy romance. The characters in the book face hard decisions.
  • I like the way history and politics are woven into the story. The Reform Act is an important part of 1867 England. Courtney Milan makes use of this very effectively in her book. Oliver is trying to get the Reform Act to pass in Parliament even though as the bastard son of a Duke he can’t be a member of Parliament. Of course, if the Reform Act passes the common man will have more say in government. And Oliver plans to be an influence in the future.
  • Oliver is very ambitious and will do almost anything to get the Act passed. Perhaps even humiliate Jane.
  • When this part of the book come to light–humiliate Jane and get a number of Lords willing to support the Act, my first thought was “Oh, no, I don’t want to read a book where a main character humiliates another character.” I should have known Ms. Milan would turn this idea on it’s head.
  • Oliver feels it’s impossible for him to love Jane, because as a bastard he has to be above reproach. Jane is too loud, too opinionated, too badly dressed and doesn’t know how to act in society.
  • During the course of the book, Jane learns to value herself and not compromise who she is.

Jeers

  • Oliver almost goes too far when he continues to accept other people’s views of both Jane and himself.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I don’t read many romances these days, but I still have a few auto-buy authors. Courtney Milan is one of these authors. She writes such good books. I’m interested in the people she writes about as well as the time periods she writes about.
  • I’ve had this book for about a year so it was definitely time to read it.
  • The suggested type of book for the August book for the TBR Challenge is to have luscious love scenes. This book is definitely not erotica, but there are some love scenes so that’s close enough for me!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?