A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

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A Perilous Undertaking is the second book in Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series of Victorian era mystery. I enjoyed the first book in this series a couple of years ago, but I have only recently been able to read this book.

Readers should definitely read the first book in the series before tackling this one. Not only are there major revelations, but readers will appreciate the simmering tension between Veronica and Stoker. I will allude to some of these revelations from the first book because they are central to the second book, but I will not reveal anything outright.

Veronica finds herself tasked with another mystery to solve: Miles Ramsforth, a famous patron of the arts, has been accused of murdering his mistress. He has been convicted of the crime, and he is going to be hanged in less than a fortnight. However, someone very important- with connections to Veronica’s mysterious parentage- has reason to believe that Miles has been framed. Read more

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An Unnatural Vice by K.J. Charles

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An Unnatural Vice is the second book in K.J. Charles’ Sins of the Cities series of Victorian-era m/m historical romance novels. I’ve read several of Charles’ other books, but this is the first book that I’ve read from this series.

Nathaniel is a journalist, and initially, he visits spiritual medium Justin with the intent of exposing him. Instead, Nathaniel is shocked with Justin is able to tell him things that he couldn’t possibly know. Nathaniel walks away frustrated, still convinced that it’s trickery, but now knowing how to prove it. He hopes that this is the last that he will see of the sham spiritualist, but then he learns that Justin may have some information about a case that he and his friends have been investigating.

Justin is quite different from Nathaniel. He grew up in abject poverty, and he justifies his occupation by believing that he is giving people what they want. And besides, it pays the bills and keeps him and his assistants fed. He finds Nathaniel arrogant, but there is a mutual attraction that neither of them can deny. Read more

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

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The Hunter is the second book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series of historical romance novels. I’ve read a few of the books in this series, thanks to ARCs from Netgalley, but I recently read the first book in the series, The Highwayman. I absolutely loved it, and jumped right into The Hunter.

Christopher Argent works mostly for Dorian Blackwell, the protagonist of The Highwayman. Christopher earns his living as a killer for hire, and he has very few qualms about this vocation. But when he is tasked with killing Millie La Cour, he finds he cannot go through with the job. This is a first for him, and he feels unhinged by this loss of focus.

Millie doesn’t know what to make of this handsome stranger who keeps showing up at the most inopportune times. She knows he is a dangerous man, but she can’t control her attraction to him. Read more

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux

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House of Furies is a YA novel written by Madeleine Roux. I read this book several months ago, but I have fallen behind on my review writing, and I am just catching up now.

As the story begins, Louisa accepts a position as a maid at Coldthistle House. She does not particularly want to be a maid, but she finds herself in a precarious position and need a place to hide out, so the offer of employment seems infinitely more appealing than being on her own.

Coldthistle House is not an ordinary manor house, and there is something unusual about Mr. Morningside, the house’s enigmatic owner. He has transformed the home into a boarding house, and Louisa quickly makes friends with one of the guests, a charming young man. There is a shroud of malevolence hanging over the house, and Louisa does not know whether it would be more dangerous to flee or to remain in a house full of secrets.   Read more

The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

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I am trying to be more responsible with my reading habits by reading and reviewing the ARCs that I receive. This plan was going along swimmingly until someone posted about The Highwayman in one of my book groups. It piqued my interest, and then someone else posted about it as well. There were now two separate posts with stacks of comments praising The Highwayman, and I knew that I could no longer ignore the siren’s call. I already owned the Kindle edition of the book, so it was quite easy to push aside everything else in my TBR pile and devour this book.

The Highwayman is a romance novel written by Kerrigan Byrne. It is the first book in her Victorian Rebels series. I have read two of the books in this series (The Duke and The Scot Beds His Wife), so I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this book. However, I could not have anticipated how much I was going to fall in love with this book.   Read more

Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

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Death Below Stairs was written by Jennifer Ashley, and it is the first book in her new Below Stairs series of Victorian mysteries. Although this marks Ashley’s first foray into the mystery genre, she is best known for her books featuring the Mackenzie family, a series of Victorian historical romances. I have only read the first of her Mackenzies books- The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie– and it was absolutely amazing. Needless to say, as a fan of historical mysteries, I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book.

Kat Holloway is a young chef who begins a new position in the household of Lord Rankin. She immediately senses some irregularities, but she is caught off guard when Sinead, the girl she was hoping to train as her assistant, is found dead. While everyone is content to believe that the unfortunate girl was the victim of a burglar, Kat senses there is more to the story than that. Read more

Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

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Marrying Winterborne is a historical romance novel by Lisa Kleypas. It’s the second book in her Ravenels series, and I recently listened to the audiobook via the Audible app. I had picked up the first two books in the series during a sale, and I started listening to this book almost immediately after finishing Cold-Hearted Rake.

Lady Helen has been sheltered for most of her life, rarely venturing away from the manor house in which she was raised. She has not encountered very many eligible young men, and finds Rhys Winterborne absolutely charming. Their courtship actually began in Cold-Hearted Rake, and I was very interested in seeing what was going to happen to Helen and Rhys.

As the owner of the largest department store in London, Rhys Winterborne might be one of the wealthiest men in England, but his working-class origins make him wholly unsuitable for the daughter of an earl. Rhys never imagined that he would ever fall in love, but he can’t stop thinking of Lady Helen. Read more

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

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I recently listened to the Audible edition of Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas. I have enjoyed many of Kleypas’ historical romance novels, and when this book popped up as part of an Audible sale, I took the opportunity to catch up on her return to the genre.

Devon Ravenel never expected to inherit his cousin’s title, and he journeys to his new manor house with the intent to sell the estate in parcels to pay off debts. However, upon his arrival, Devon becomes reacquainted with his three cousins, whose future is dependent on him now that their brother is dead.

The household also includes Kathleen, who had recently married the Earl of Trenear and now finds herself widowed and alone. She sees Devon’s arrival as an annoying interference, and she is especially disgusted by his plans to sell off the estate. Can she persuade him to change his mind?

This is a wonderful example of the enemies to friends trope. I enjoyed watching Devon and Kathleen’s relationship develop over the course of the novel. This was definitely not a case of insta-love. They each have qualms about commitment that they need to overcome as they consider what they mean to each other.

Another thing that I liked about this book is the inclusion of top-notch secondary plotlines. It is not terribly common for books in the genre to have narrative from the point of view of a secondary character, but it worked well here. It also set up the second book in the series very nicely.

I would absolutely recommend Cold-Hearted Rake. Devon and Kathleen are both likeable, and they have good chemistry. The secondary characters are well rounded as well; I especially enjoyed the twins. As soon as this book ended, I was ready to start the next book in the series! I am looking forward to reading the rest of the Ravenels series in the future!

 

 

 

The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

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The Scot Beds His Wife is a historical romance novel written by Kerrigan Byrne. It is the fifth book in the Victorian Rebels series. I thoroughly enjoyed her last book- The Duke– and I was very excited about reading this newest addition to the series.

Samantha Masters made some bad choices in the Wild West. Very bad choices. So when a chance encounter leads to an opportunity to travel to Scotland posing as an heiress to an estate, Samantha jumps at the chance to leave town and hightail it to the Highlands.

Gavin St. James, the Earl of Thorne, happens to live on the neighboring estate, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get that land for himself. Usually, it is not very difficult for him to get what he wants from women, but his well-practiced seduction techniques are useless against this brash American. Read more

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

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I first heard about The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie in one of my message boards. The plot intrigued me, and so I sought out a copy via my library network. There was a wait list, but within days, I arrived at the top of the list and downloaded the book onto my Kindle.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is the first book in Jennifer Ashley’s Mackenzies series. This Victorian romance features the titular Lord Ian, the younger brother of a duke. Lord Ian has quite a reputation- he spent much of his youth in a private asylum, and now as an adult, he enjoys collecting Chinese pottery. He proves to be a valuable asset to his oldest brother’s trade deals because he can recall entire conversations verbatim, even if the negotiations took place in another language.

As soon as Ian meets Beth, he is absolutely smitten. Beth also arrived at her present situation in a rather unconventional manner: after her pastor husband passed away, she served as the companion for a wealthy lady who left Beth a large inheritance. Beth has never met anyone like Ian, nor has she ever been pursued with the intensity in which Ian pursues her. Read more