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A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have read a few of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily mysteries, so I was looking forward to reading A Terrible Beauty.

As the story begins, Emily and her husband Colin are preparing for a trip to Greece, where Emily has a villa that she inherited from her first husband. Philip has been dead for over ten years, but Emily suddenly finds signs that remind her of him. She even thinks that she sees him at one point, but that’s impossible- isn’t it?

Emily and Colin are joined on their trip by their friends Margaret and Jeremy, the latter of which is desperately in need of respite after the events of the previous book. They plan to while away their days in a leisurely fashion, while taking in all that the cradle of civilization has to offer. Upon their arrival at the villa, they are surprised with the revelation that the Viscount Ashton is there. It seems impossible, but this strange man appears to be Ashton- he looks vaguely like Ashton (although ten years have elapsed), and he repeats stories that no one else would know. Colin was one of Ashton’s closest friends, so this is quite an awkward situation for everyone involved. It should be noted, however, that Colin and Emily did not marry until three years after Ashton’s death. They had every expectation that he was truly dead. Continue reading

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Murder at Rough Point by Alyssa Maxwell

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

At the end of last year, I received an opportunity to read Murder Most Malicious– the first book in Alyssa Maxwell’s A Lady and Lady’s Maid historical mystery series. It was a wonderful book, so when the opportunity arose to read the latest entry in her Gilded Newport series, I was excited.

Murder at Rough Point is the fourth book in the Gilded Newport series. I have not read any of the other books, and this may have put me at a disadvantage. As the story begins, reporter (and shabby Vanderbilt cousin) Emma Cross is sent to cover a house party at one of the Newport “cottages”. The guests are an eclectic mix of artists, including Edith Wharton and her brooding husband Teddy.

When a guest turns up dead at the bottom of the cliff, it appears to be a suicide. But when a second guest is also found dead, it cannot be denied that there may be a more sinister force at play. It’s up to Emma to figure out who is committing these crimes; could she be next if she asks too many questions? Continue reading

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The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

51qebdodpflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoy reading about Victorian history, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale. This is my first experience with her, and I will definitely look for her other Victorian books in the future!

During the summer of 1895, a pair of brothers named Robert and Nattie Coombes told their neighbors and relatives that their mother had gone away for awhile. They invited a family friend to stay with them for company; instead of staying in the upstairs bedrooms, they camped out downstairs. They took trips to Lord’s to see a cricket match, and they sent their family friend to pawn some household items. Eventually, relatives began to doubt the veracity of the boys’ tale and entered the locked bedroom. Mrs. Coombes was found dead, and the boys were arrested for murder. Continue reading

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The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

51o3tkgzznlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love reading novels set in the 19th century. I was not familiar with Anita Hemmings, the first African American woman to graduate from Vassar College, and I was intrigued by the premise of Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years.

Anita Hemmings is considered to be one of the great beauties of the class of 1897 at Vassar. She seems to have it all: she is a talented singer, and a gifted scholar. But Anita is hiding a terrible secret: her skin is light enough to pass as white, but she is actually a black woman. At the end of the 19th century, there are very few colleges that admit black women, and Vassar is not one of them. If anyone found out the truth about Anita, it would ruin her. Continue reading

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A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

41leocejialI found A Madness So Discreet on Goodreads, and then made a request for it through the library network. This young adult novel was written by Mindy McGinnis.

Grace Mae is a pregnant teenager. Perhaps if her story took place a century later, the plot may have been cute and quirky. But at the end of the 19th century, getting pregnant as a well-bred girl from a good home earns Grace a place in an asylum outside of Boston. It is a terrible place, where inmates are routinely abused. Grace is rescued by a doctor, and brought to another asylum in Ohio. This second asylum is an ethical treatment center, where patients are treated with dignity. Dr. Thornhollow thinks that Grace’s intuition is unparalleled, and thinks that she would make an excellent assistant. Thornhollow is a pioneer in the field of phrenology, and serves as a police consultant on murder cases. When Grace and Thornhill realize that there might be a serial killer in their midst, they become obsessed with catching him and bringing him to justice. Continue reading

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These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I have been a big fan of Jennifer Donnelly for years. A Northern Light is one of the best books that I have ever read. When I received the opportunity to read These Shallow Graves, I was very excited about the opportunity to return to the same historical era as A Northern Light.

Jo Montfort comes from a wealthy New York family. She is expected to maintain proper decorum at all times, marry a young man from an equally wealthy family, and devote her life to raising children and managing a household full of servants. Continue reading