A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins

As a young widow in Victorian England, Lady Katherine’s social station provides her with more opportunities than a less-connected widow in the same position, but nevertheless, there are some things that are frowned upon, such as using her journalistic skills to uncover a serial killer

NB: The text doesn’t refer to the perpetrator as a serial killer, but there’s a clear pattern between a series of killings around London.

When Kate runs afoul of Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham, she retires to the countryside and runs right into (quite literally) another victim.

And guess who shows up to investigate? Yes, that’s right—none other than infuriating…handsome Detective Eversham. At first, this development annoys Kate, but perhaps Andrew is not so bad after all.

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Duke I’d Like to F*** by Sierra Simone and Joanna Shupe and Eva Leigh and Nicola Davidson and Adriana Herrera

One of the huge jokes in the historical romance community is the overabundance of dukes. Everywhere you look, there’s yet another handsome young(ish) duke in want of a wife. So what did these five amazing authors do?

They made an entire anthology with nothing but dukes, baby! Hot dukes! Dukes I’d like to f***.

And wow, buckle up friends, this is going to be a bumpy ride. No pun intended.

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An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles

KJ Charles is one of my favorite authors. I’ve had the books in her Victorian-era queer romance/mystery Sins of the City series on my TBR; I read the second one first a couple of years ago, but now I’m going through the series in chronological order.

Clem Talleyfer’s work has a boarding house manager involves a great deal of predictable routines, which is a good thing, because adapting to changes isn’t easy for Clem. His most favorite part of the day is sharing a cup of tea with Mr. Rowley Green, one of the lodgers.

When one of the other lodgers turns up dead on their doorstep, Clem and Rowley are determined to figure out what happened, it becomes apparent that it was not an isolated incident and they are both in danger.

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The Tutor by Bonnie Dee

I’ve had The Tutor on my list for a long time, and I finally listened to the Audible edition a couple of months ago. Once again, I am woefully behind with my non-ARC reviews, so I only now getting around to writing down my thoughts.

Graham has scammed his way into a tutoring job at a manor house, and he can tell that something is “off” from the moment he arrives. His two pupils, twin boys, run wild, and one of them doesn’t speak anymore.

Graham certainly has his work cut out for himself, and then there’s the issue of the enigmatic Sir Richard, the boy’s father, who is haunted by the past and reluctant to let anyone get close to him, especially not another man.

And what would a good gothic romance be without a ghost?

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A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Veronica Speedwell series of Victorian-era mysteries, but then I fell behind, and am only now getting around to catching up.

In this installment, Veronica and her friend Stoker are tasked with finding a missing diadem, the crown jewel (pun intended) in an archaeological expedition’s astounding discovery of Egyptian goods.

Not only is the diadem missing, but the leader is also missing. One might assume the two elements are connected, but that’s not the only connection: the missing man is Stoker’s former expedition partner.

As would be expected, rumors of an ancient curse abound, but despite evidence of malfeasance, that’s just superstition, right?

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A Dark and Stormy Knight by Kerrigan Byrne

Sir Carlton Morley has been a fixture in the Victorian Rebels series, most often as the antagonist. Now it’s finally time for him to tell his own story and receive a HEA.

By day, Carlton is a respected police detective. By night, he roams the streets of London, dishing out vigilante justice—kind of like Batman.  

Pru doesn’t want to marry her fiancé after she finds out that he sleeps around and has multiple illegitimate children. Her father refuses to allow her to break the engagement, and insists that it’s perfectly normal for the aristocracy.

So Pru goes to an exclusive brothel for one night of passion because she knows it’s her only chance in what will be a loveless marriage.

Guess who she meets there? Carlton! He’s skulking around on a case, and she mistakes him for one of the workers, and he doesn’t correct her.

They both think that this is the only time they’ll ever see each other, but they were wrong, of course.

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Jackdaw by KJ Charles

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Jackdaw takes place in Charles’ Charm of Magpies universe series of Victorian-era queer paranormal romance novels. It isn’t a strict perquisite to read the first three books in the series, but readers will benefit from a better understanding of the larger story arc.

Jonah Pastern played a supporting role in Flight of Magpies, the third Charm of Magpies book. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I will say that Jonah appeared as one of the villains of the piece, so right away, it’s interesting to see him as the protagonist in a romance.

Once upon a time, Jonah met Ben, and they were very happy together.

Until they weren’t. Read more

The Business of Blood by Kerrigan Byrne

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The Business of Blood is the first book in Kerrigan Byrne’s new Victorian-era historical mystery series. I have enjoyed her previous books: historical romance novels with angst-ridden heroes, and so I was very excited to read something completely different than Byrne’s usual fare.

This is, indeed, a departure: even though Byrne’s historical romance novels are darker than most of the books in the genre, potential readers should know that The Business of Blood is not a cozy historical mystery. There are fairly graphic descriptions of crime scenes, and while I don’t think it’s any worse than the depravity some of Byrne’s other characters have demonstrated, it’s still worth mentioning.

Fiona Mahoney, an Irish immigrant living in London, works as a crime scene cleaner. There is no shortage of work, and she is not easily shocked- until she arrives at the home of a murdered man posed in a gruesome fashion. All signs point to Jack the Ripper, who has been dormant for years. Fiona has been haunted by this elusive killer, and wonders if this is her opportunity to track down the man who killed her childhood best friend. Read more

Gilded Cage by KJ Charles

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Gilded Cage is the second book in KJ Charles’ Lilywhite Boys series of queer Victorian-era mystery/romance novels. If you haven’t read Any Old Diamonds, the first book in the series, I suggest you stop reading because I’m going to be unable to discuss Gilded Cage without revealing spoilers for Any Old Diamonds.

It’s really good- you’ll love it. Read more

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

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Devil in Spring is the third book in Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenels series of Victorian-era historical romance novels. It came out a couple of years ago, but like all aspects of my life, my reading list is woefully behind. I ended up going between the Kindle edition and the Audible over the summer as I deep-cleaned my oldest daughter’s room when she was away at summer camp.

Pandora Ravenel has never wanted to be part of aristocratic society. She would much rather stay at home and work on designing a board game. Unfortunately for her, she has familial obligations, and ends up at a ball. Even worse, she ends up in a compromising position with a notorious rake- completely by accident. Read more