The Last Moriarty ( Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery #1)

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The Last Moriarty

by Charles Veley

Edition: ebook, 2015

Synopsis: A lovely young American actress from the D’Oyly Carte Opera Troupe comes to 221B Baker Street on a cold November morning, desperately seeking assistance from Sherlock Holmes. Inexplicably, Holmes agrees to help, even though the Prime Minister of England and his cabinet need Holmes to solve a murder case that could threaten a high-stakes meeting with John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan. The clock is ticking. Holmes will need all his physical and deductive powers to preserve innocent lives and prevent political and economic chaos on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet even Holmes cannot foresee how much the ultimate outcome will depend on a mother’s sacrifice, a daughter’s hopes, and on the true identity of the last Moriarty.

When the Prime Minister and his cabinet requires Holmes to solve a murder involving John D. Rockefeller and J.P Morgan, the great detective obliges, intrigued by the details of the case. A young actress brings new light onto the case, and changes everything.

As far as pastiches go, this is done very well. Told from the point of view of Dr. Watson, it’s very similar to Conan Doyle’s voice, which is not easy to do. The new characters are interesting enough in their own way.

The mystery was a little disappointing. Everything seemed complicated at first, but it really wasn’t. Holmes, if I’m perfectly honest, was more sentimental than I expected, which was interesting to see but not the Holmes I love.

For Holmes lovers who like to try something new, I would recommend this.

Victoria

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Victoria

by Daisy Goodwin

Edition: hardcover, 2016

Synopsis: In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

“What does a queen do?”

Shortly after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is awakened to the news that her uncle the king has died and she is now Queen of England. She must learn the ways of her new court, come to know who to trust, and continue on despite mistakes made.

Having watched the TV series first, I was interested to see just what the book would bring to the table. Though we have glimpses of side characters, the focus remains almost solely on Victoria, and that is where its strength lies. We are allowed to follow Victoria from just before she becomes queen, and we experience her struggles with her.

Those who have seen the series will recognize the plot threads that make up each episode and where they are expanded upon. For fans of the show, I highly recommend this fictional book.

Courting the Countess AND Courting the Country Miss by Donna Hatch

Today, we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of one review, I am giving you two, and the opportunity to join a giveaway!

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Courting the Countess

by Donna Hatch

Edition: PDF, 2016

Synopsis: When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love. 

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to the wedding, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

When Elizabeth falls for the charms of a known rake, she never expects her father will insist that she marry the man’s brother when her reputation is ruined. Richards hope to marry his childhood friend, Leticia, are dashed when he must consent to marry Elizabeth else his brother fight a duel. Will disappointment and broken hearts keep this pair from finding love?

From the start, I definitely sympathized with Elizabeth. She endured a great deal of abuse from her “mother”, so it made sense she would fall for someone who pays attention to her. The one point that did bore me was how long Elizabeth maintained her “love” for Tristan, making her marriage difficult from the start.

Richard was the perfect counterpoint to Elizabeth. He has his own trust issues, and communication with his new wife is difficult. In time, everything works out and we get the happily ever after we’ve come to expect from Donna Hatch.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book and I would recommend it to any regency fans who love a clean, sweet read.

AND NOW FOR THE SEQUEL!

 

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35495389   Cynical and broken-hearted, Leticia banishes dreams of marriage. When her childhood friend, Tristan, wagers he can find her the perfect husband, she hopes the challenge will coax him to forgo his devil-may-care lifestyle. Meanwhile, Leticia throws herself into forming her charity school but meets opposition—even from the people she’s helping.

Guilt-ridden that his past mistakes robbed Leticia of true love, Tristan vows to set it right, but match-making has its pitfalls for a repentant scoundrel. When he finds two ‘perfect’ gentlemen to court her, he discovers his own deep feelings for the lady.

Though Tristan seems to reform, Leticia doesn’t dare risk heartbreak with a notorious rake. When opposition for the school takes a deadly turn, can Tristan protect her from a madman bent on destroying their dreams and their lives?

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Come check out her other books and see what’s new!
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And she has even more books we have not featured! Be sure to check them out on her website!

Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

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review

Leticia expected to marry Richard, a serious, perfect gentleman. Seeing him happily married to someone else breaks her heart, but she carries on. Tristan, feeling guilty for his part in shattering his childhood friend’s hopes for the future, sets out to find her a husband. Can past feelings be overcome when new feelings begin to bloom?

Having first met Leticia in book one, I wasn’t overly impressed with her character. She improves somewhat in this book, however I can’t say that she is a favorite. She spends a great deal of time mourning the future she lost with Richard. To take her mind off her loss, she throws herself into helping organize a school, which brings her into danger. Is her determination to go on bravery or ignorance?

Tristan was not as enjoyable as his brother. There are frequent mentions of his “connection” he made with Elizabeth in the first book, but I never really saw it. His desire to change was done believably, though.

As far as Regency romances, this is enjoyable enough, though not an immediate favorite of mine. Still, fans of Donna Hatch will definitely enjoy it.

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Giveaway

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An Author’s Random Musing: To Write or Not To Write

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One thing I’ve seen a lot of lately, is the advice to write even when you don’t feel like it. There is some truth to the benefits this brings, I will admit. Some days I just need to make myself sit down and start writing before the creativity decides to kick in.

That being said, there are times when I cannot follow this advice.

Three years ago, I began working on a Regency Mystery trilogy.  I was so excited about the story these three books was going to tell. However, without going into details, I can tell you that I was going through a rough patch. I wrote most of my first draft when there was so much happening and I was angry at life in general.

The result?

A heroine who was so bitter and angry, it felt toxic just reading about her. It took nearly a year to rewrite and rework that particular story before my main character became someone readers would sympathize with instead of hate.

Other authors may not be like me, but my life does affect my writing. My feelings and frustrations come to life in my characters. The emotions are never write if I have to force the words out. When my heart isn’t in the story, I end up having more to fix than if I just take my time.

And that’s where I am right now. Even though it has been several months since I worked with editors on Not My Idea, I’m still exhausted emotionally and creatively. Even though my plots are bright in my mind, when I try to force them onto the paper, they are lifeless and bland.

So, I give myself permission not to write. Because there is a lot going on my life and my attention needs to be somewhere else, I am setting my writing aside. If my heart is really in the story, it won’t be more than a day or two before I begin writing again, slowly and at my own pace. Maybe it will only be a couple hundred words, maybe more.

It’s my words. My story. And I’m going to write it when and how I want.

Eleventh Hour (Kit Marlowe #8)

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Eleventh Hour (Kit Marlowe #8)

By M.J. Trow

Edition: ebook, 2017 ARC

Synopsis: Christopher Marlowe must discover who murdered the queen’s spymaster in this absorbing historical mystery.

April, 1590. The queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, is dead, leaving a dangerous power vacuum. His former right hand man, Nicholas Faunt, believes he was poisoned and has ordered Kit Marlowe to discover who killed him.

To find the answers, Marlowe must consult the leading scientists and thinkers in the country. But as he questions the members of the so-called School of Night, the playwright-turned-spy becomes convinced that at least one of them is hiding a deadly secret. If he is to outwit the most enquiring minds in Europe and unmask the killer within, Marlowe must devise an impossibly ingenious plan.

Playwright Kit Marlowe is plunged into the hunt for the truth when Sir Francis Wallingham dies. Are natural causes to blame or something more sinister?
From the description, I didn’t realize I was jumping into a series. Immediately, I realized my mistake as certain characters are referred to in ways that made it obvious the reader ought to be aware of who they are. This made it difficult for me to really get into the story, which is heavy going.

Kit Marlowe was a fascinating character and I did enjoy following him through his investigation. He was charismatic, and the author side of me appreciated his title ‘the Muses’ Darling.’ He amused me very much. The others were…unremarkable. As to the plot, I was often confused, so I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

I also did not like the supernatural element of the book. Perhaps this is usual to the series and fans know what they are getting. So, to those who know Kit Marlowe will probably enjoy his newest adventure.

I received a free copy from NetGalley for review purposes.

The Underground River

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The Underground River

by Martha Conway

Edition: ebook, 2017 ARC

Synopsis: Set aboard a nineteenth century riverboat theater, this is the moving, page-turning story of a charmingly frank and naive seamstress who is blackmailed into saving Ranaways on the Underground Railroad, jeopardizing her freedom, her livelihood, and a new love. It’s 1838, and May Bedloe works as a seamstress for her cousin, the famous actress Comfort Vertue–until their steamboat sinks on the Ohio River. Though they both survive, both must find new employment. Comfort is hired to give lectures by noted abolitionist, Flora Howard, and May finds work on a small flatboat, Hugo and Helena’s Floating Theatre, as it cruises the border between the northern states and the southern slave-holding states. May becomes indispensable to Hugo and his troupe, and all goes well until she sees her cousin again. Comfort and Mrs. Howard are also traveling down the Ohio River, speaking out against slavery at the many riverside towns. May owes Mrs. Howard a debt she cannot repay, and Mrs. Howard uses the opportunity to enlist May in her network of shadowy characters who ferry babies given up by their slave mothers across the river to freedom. Lying has never come easy to May, but now she is compelled to break the law, deceive all her new-found friends, and deflect the rising suspicions of Dr. Early who captures Ranaways and sells them back to their southern masters. As May’s secrets become more tangled and harder to keep, the Floating Theatre readies for its biggest performance yet. May’s predicament could mean doom for all her friends on board, including her beloved Hugo, unless she can figure out a way to trap those who know her best.

In the wake of being aboard a steamboat that sinks, May searches for her cousin. She is astonished when her cousin declares May unnecessary. This young woman must make her own way in the world, and comes to know more about herself and the changing world around her.

May is such an entertaining character. She is partially deaf, struggles with telling a falsehood, and is precise in what she says or does. Her dealings with new people are awkward and all the more enjoyable because of it. Watching her learn, make mistakes, and grow as an individual was the best part of the book.

The cast and crew of the riverboat made excellent supporting cast. The plot moved along at a good pace, although the ‘underground’ detail didn’t come into play until much later than I expected.

All in all, this is a well told historical tale with a main character I could relate to. Its clean and interesting, exactly the kind of book I would happily recommend to other readers.

I received an ARC through NetGalley for reviewing purposes.

Though This Be Madness (Lilly Long Mystery #2)

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Though This Be Madness

by Penny Richards

Edition: paperback, 2017

Synopsis: Shakespearean actress turned Pinkerton detective Lilly Long and her reluctant partner, Cade McShane, travel to New Orleans to save a young widow from a fate worse than death…

1881, Chicago. Assigned to her second case as a Pinkerton, Lilly still needs to prove herself—both as a novice detective and as a woman in a man’s world. Ordered to once again work with Lilly, Cade needs to redeem himself for conduct unbecoming to a Pinkerton—a grief-driven drunken brawl. As if their forced partnership wasn’t bad enough, the agents must pose as husband and wife servants in the troubled household of a wealthy New Orleans family. An acting challenge if ever there was one…

The elderly matriarch of the Fortenot family is convinced her grandson’s former widow has been unjustly committed to an insane asylum by her second husband. She believes the man is attempting to wrest the family fortune away from his new wife. Soon, behind the beautiful façade of the Fortenot mansion, the detectives uncover secrets, betrayal, voodoo curses—and murder. Even as Lilly and Cade chafe against their roles, they must work together to expose the true villain of this tragedy before the hapless widow faces her final curtain call.

Lilly Long is off on her second assignment. This time she has an official partner, Cade McShane, who had watched over her during her first case. These two must learn how to work together as they travel to New Orleans for a case filled with secrets, betrayal, voodoo, and murder.

As a sequel, this is a fantastic book. It builds on the first one in a brilliant way, allowing us to see that Lilly still has a lot to learn in her new profession. At times, she does seem too hard on herself, and that was sad to see.

I do wish the narrative had remained with her more, instead of moving to Cade as often as it did. It was necessary for the story to be told, but I want more of Lilly not Cade! As a side character, Cade is not bad, but he just didn’t keep my interest in this book.

For readers who enjoy a female detective using her skills to the best of her ability, this is a must read.

The author was kind enough to give me a physical copy of the book for reviewing purposes.