Darcie Wilde: A Counterfeit Suitor

This review is by our frequent reviewer Vicki Kondelik.

A Counterfeit Suitor is the fifth in the Rosalind Thorne series of Regency mysteries by Darcie Wilde (a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel).  Rosalind is a gentlewoman living in reduced circumstances after her father–an alcoholic, gambler, and forger–left England to escape his debts and avoid criminal charges for forging promissory notes.  He had taken Rosalind’s sister Charlotte to Paris with him, while Rosalind and her mother stayed in England.  Her mother has died since these events took place, a few years before the beginning of the series, and Charlotte has become a courtesan.  To support herself, Rosalind solves problems for gentlewomen in trouble, to avoid family scandals.  Usually, that means investigating murders with the help of her love interest, handsome Bow Street Runner Adam Harkness. read more

Andrea Penrose: Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens

This is the fifth installment in Andrea Penrose’s Wrexford and Sloane series, set in London in the early 1800’s.  In each novel, Penrose folds in some sort of scientific discovery, and in this one, the discovery involves a cure for malaria, a huge problem at the time.  Set in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Penrose also includes some real-life scientists (read her interesting author’s note), while at the same time creating an exciting adventure and a bit of romance.

When the series opened, Lady Charlotte Sloane was a widow who had slipped into her late husband’s career as a satiric artist.  She works anonymously, often causing a stir when her work is published in the paper. She assists her now fiancée, Lord Wrexford in investigations. As the book opens, he is introducing her to society at a huge gathering at the Botanical Garden as his future bride.  Unfortunately, a dead body is discovered during the course of the evening, and Wrexford, a now well known amateur sleuth, is called in for advice. read more

Anna Lee Huber: Murder Most Fair

This book will be published on August 31.

The fifth novel in Anna Lee Huber’s Verity Kent series finds Verity surprised by the appearance of her German great aunt, Ilse.  She’s surprised for one thing because it’s 1919, and in England, Germans weren’t especially beloved; and for another, she knows her aunt is elderly and fragile and wonders why she’s made the arduous journey to her niece’s side.

The two have always been close, and during the war, when Verity worked for British Intelligence, she even placed a German deserter at her aunt’s home for a time.  Verity is still wracked with guilt over this.  Her aunt has appeared with a new and beautiful young maid, as her long time maid has died of the Spanish flu. read more

Dianne Freeman: A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder

This novel will be published on July 27.

The sparkling fourth installment to Dianne Freeman’s insanely enjoyable Frances, Lady Harleigh series finds the intrepid Frances on the verge of marriage to her beloved George, only to discover, practically on the eve of her wedding, that George’s wife has appeared. Of course, it’s a misunderstanding, but the social damage is done.  Irena, the woman making the claim, appears not only demented but in danger, as she’s been receiving threatening letters. read more

Clara McKenna: Murder at Keyhaven Castle

Murder at Keyhaven Castle is the third book in Clara McKenna’s Stella and Lyndy mysteries, set in the New Forest area of England in 1905.  I had not read the two previous books, but McKenna gives the reader enough background that I had no problem getting into the book, and I enjoyed it so much that it made me want to read the others.

Stella Kendrick is the daughter of a wealthy horse farmer from Kentucky.  Her overbearing, social-climbing father, who had never shown her any love, had taken her to England, ostensibly to buy horses, but really to marry her off to Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst.  Lyndy’s aristocratic family has lost their fortune.  I was never sure exactly why, and that was probably explained in the earlier books, but it is suggested that Lyndy’s father wasted the family’s money.  Stella’s father wants the social connections an aristocratic title would bring.  Needless to say, neither of the young people was consulted at the time their fathers planned their engagement.  Luckily for them, they fall in love with each other, even though Lyndy’s snobbish, traditionally-minded parents disapprove of Stella’s unconventional ways.  Stella and Lyndy share a love of horses and, as it turns out, crime solving. read more

Kathleen Marple Kalb: A Fatal First Night

This is the second in Kathleen Kalb’s delightful series about opera star Ella Shane, who is working in  New York City in 1899.  She and her cousin Tom run an opera company and live agreeably together in a large brownstone with Ella’s parrot, Montezuma.  These books have a really vivacious quality, matching Miss Ella’s own.  Not only is Ella a working woman in 1899, she sings men’s parts – she’s what was known as a “trouser diva”.

Her first nights tend to be problematic, however.  In the first book, as she sang Romeo to her Juliet, Juliet was really dead.  In this book, though the stage portion of her new show goes perfectly, when she comes off stage she discovers one of her co-stars in his dressing room, covered in blood, a dead man at his feet.  The gentle singer is hauled off to the Tombs and Ella tries to wrap her head around his guilt. read more

Erica Ruth Neubauer: Murder at Wedgefield Manor

Murder at Wedgefield Manor is the delightful second book in Erica Ruth Neubauer’s series set in the 1920s, featuring the adventurous American World War I widow Jane Wunderly.  After solving a mystery in Egypt in the first book, Murder at the Mena House, Jane, her matchmaking Aunt Millie, and Millie’s secret daughter Lillian arrive at Wedgefield Manor, the English country estate of Lord Hughes, who had been Millie’s lover years ago.  Quite possibly, Millie and Hughes are rekindling their romance.  Lillian is the product of their brief affair.  Lord Hughes and his wife had adopted Lillian and raised her as their own, and as far as Jane knows, Lillian is not aware of the fact that Millie is her mother–a fact that Jane had uncovered in the course of her investigation in Egypt, where she met Lillian for the first time. read more

Stephanie Graves: Olive Bright, Pigeoneer

This novel will be published December 29.

This novel is more of a village cozy than a war novel, though it’s set at the start of WWII in the tiny British village of Pipley.  The heroine, Olive, longs to enlist as a FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry), but she’s tethered to home, helping her father with her stepmother, who has MS, as well as with a young war refugee, Jonathon.  She also has the responsibility of the family pigeon loft, a fine one, and one her bristly father hopes will meet with the approval of the NPS, or National Pigeon Service. read more

Darcie Wilde: A Lady Compromised

This novel is reviewed by our occasional and gifted reviewer, Vicki Kondelik.  It will be available November 24.

A Lady Compromised is the fourth book in the Regency mystery series by Darcie Wilde (a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel) featuring Rosalind Thorne, a gentlewoman living in reduced circumstances after a family scandal.  To make a living for herself, Rosalind helps society ladies solve their problems, which, in this book and the others in the series, include murder investigation.  At the beginning of this book, Rosalind travels to Cassell House, the country estate of Devon Winterbourne, who has recently, and unexpectedly, inherited the title of Duke of Casselmaine following the untimely deaths of his father and older brother.  Rosalind and Devon had been close to becoming engaged before Rosalind’s father’s disgrace, at a time when Devon was a second son, with no prospects of inheriting the dukedom.  Now his cousin, Rosalind’s friend Louisa, is getting married, and Rosalind is looking forward to attending the wedding and possibly rekindling her romance with Devon. read more

A Bouquet of Historical Mysteries

To my mind, historical mysteries are some of the best mysteries being written at the moment.  They combine classic elements of detective fiction, unmarred by cell phones or computers, and combine it with fascinating time periods and characters.  These wonderful books are now all available to order on our website, along with many other historical mysteries (have a browse!) Kathleen Marple Kalb’s first novel came out this April, a difficult time for a first novel, with no bookstore events or conferences to attend.  I am not a fan of the cover art, but I am a huge fan of this charming debut.  My review ran in Mystery Scene, and you can read it here.   The main character, Ella Shane, is a “trouser diva”, an opera singer who sings men’s roles in 1899.  At the time, opera was a travelling proposition, as the Met was new.  If you enjoy books by C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber or Dianne Freeman, check this one out. read more