Murder Mystery/Thriller/Suspense



17th Century



Review by Francine:


Written in M. J. Logue’s inimitable style, “An Imperfect Enjoyment” edges toward the realms of a psychological thriller, in which the author wields a mind-bending analogy to that of a deeply troubled and tortured mind: almost in the format of a journal, as though the main character is secretly confessing to revenge enacted without any sense of guilt. Thus deceit, rumour, and inference enough to ruin any man’s chances of elevation in favoured social circles prevails, amidst the ambitious, the dubious, and the worst of the notoriously debauched courtiers of their time.

Initially it is the year of 1663, three years since the Restoration of Charles II to the throne of England. A dreadful murder sets the scene for a mystery that will linger akin to smoke-laden miasma drifting throughout this novel. By 1665 the once Parliamentarian officer, Thankful Russell, who despised all that the Royalists ever stood for during the years of the English Civil Wars, is now gracing the corridors, and the drawing rooms of the great and not so good Royalists. Not only is he newly married and revelling in the glory of having one of the youngest brides on the royal campus, old fears of rejection, fears of failing Thomazina, fears of failing others, and most of all fear of failing his old commander; Russell is under pressure as a maze of seeming madness surrounds him. And all whilst some unknown person is hell-bent on putting his neck in a noose! All told, this is a suspenseful read peppered with humour, and earthy language enough to lighten and lift the reader in between the more sinister elements as they unfold.







Regency



Book 1 The Bath Series (Sensual)

Reviewed by Charlotte 

I confess I am a historical romance novel junkie and the cover image of Infamous Rival caught my eye because it instantly declared these ladies (depicted) are of the Regency era. I was sold on the cover and as soon as I read the first few pages I was hooked. It is a short novel but a bit more than a novella.

Here are my thoughts on the novel.

Infamous Rival is an intelligent Regency murder mystery. It has witty repartee, danger, oodles of fear and simmering sensuality. The characters are strong, vibrant and Lady Georgette Beaumont is adorable. Although she is a titled grandee she is soon living in dread of the man who ruined her reputation with scandalous lies. Adam Brockenbury is a dangerous anti hero. He's a notorious gambler, and he and his cousin Eliza are engaged in a dark and damaging relationship, which errs gothic and creepy.

The hero on the other hand is Edwin Brockenbury (lawyer) and borne of impeccable manners he's a charmer, and a chance meeting with a woman of high status masquerading as a nobody of any consequence intrigues him, as he in turn intrigues her. Forced to share a hired coach they cannot ignore one another, and until such time as his name is revealed the journey from London to Bath passes in amicable contentment. However, it is a frosty night, the roads are treacherous and an incident arises, an incident that is the catalyst to untold events that will draw Edwin and Georgette into the realms of murder and mystery. Love inevitably develops between the hero and heroine, and touching moments arise along with intense passion, which draws them ever closer. Edwin, although a lawyer by profession, he sets out to unravel a mysterious death that occurred in the past, while murders in the present threaten Georgette’s very existence and that of an old enemy of hers, the Marquess of Rantchester. There is a sensual love scene, although explicit, it is so beautifully word crafted it left me gasping in awe of the author's skill for writing what is essentially an erotic episode.However, there is none of the crudeness associated with erotic novels.

Author notes: This is a murder mystery and it would be unfair to reveal more than I already have, and I do highly recommend this book to lovers of Regency romances and murder mysteries. What I liked best about this novel was the author's use of archaic language [old English grammar] depicting Regency England, very much in the vein of Georgette Heyer , but the author never for one minute forgets this is the 21st century and those of us who are not of the Regency era. It is available through all Amazon's online sources as a ebook. Enjoy!






Edwardian



Reviewed by Fran - short & sweet because it's a murder mystery, and I don't want to give away the clues.


.A murder mystery set against the backdrop of a trans-Atlantic cruise ship was too intriguing to miss, and I’m glad I didn’t let this one slip to the bottom of my TBR Kindle list for a “come-to-read” at a later date. The lead characters  victims as well as suspects  set the tone of the era and its social mores, whilst the cleverly constructed mystery aspect holds throughout and comes to light at the very end. Albeit I had my suspicions in respect of one murder, and felt vindicated at the outcome, the second murderous villain escaped my notice, and that’s how a murder mystery should be: undetectable and intriguing. While this is a delightful cosy murder mystery in the vein of Miss Marple aboard ship, likewise it has an overall genteel ambience veiling sinister undertones! A lovely read.



Regency




Reviewed by Katie          (Steamy/Sensual)

The Duke of Malchester, Devon Howard, was thirty-two, twice a widower, shrouded in gossip and suspicion regarding the deaths of his previous wives, his treatment of servants and his libertine ways.  At seventeen, Liliana was literally auctioned off and married to the highest bidder. It was no wonder she was afraid to entrust her body, mind or heart to a man she met a month prior to the wedding.  The nuptial night, while exciting, wasn’t enough to convince her to lower her guard and so, Liliana clung to her dignity, residing at Calder Hall, a duchess in name only.  For three years, Devon roamed who knows where with an entourage that included his mistress.  His absences were long, his visits short and pleasant enough, so long as she kept her distance.

When her beloved grandfather dies, things come to the point between them.  Devon presses for her admission that they could be more than married in name only.  She agrees but only if he removes his mistress from their home and his life, permanently.  Surprisingly (not), his mistress objects to this and sets in motion a plan to ruin Devon and Liliana’s newborn happiness.  Secrets are thrust into the light of day; tragedy is dressed in silks and lies, while sorrow hides behind parties and titles, altogether creating a compelling tale that makes you shudder and gasp right along with the characters.

This was not a comfortable story but it was a most excellent read!  With the feel of a traditional gothic, written in a style well aware of the modern reader, the author never forgets the values and mores of the times. Neither can you.  Her atmospheric tone is perfect; lush and a bit bawdy, which suits the Duke very well indeed.  The dismal facts of family life that saw children living entirely separate from their parents until they could be of use, and the reality of arranged marriages seldom being more than tolerable, are facts historical readers and writers know yet are seldom willing to accept beyond the plot device or back story. 

Ms. Howarth doesn’t back up to these realities, she wields them with empathetic skill.  I swear I could hear her sighs in the dark corridors and possibly felt her restraining hand when I wanted to smack her hero for being a - well, an ass.  She doesn’t apologize for a hero that genuinely believes a woman wasn’t really his mistress so long as he didn’t penetrate her vagina.  Neither is she ashamed of a heroine that allows the past to be put aside because she wants a future that means something more than disdainful distance and loneliness.  That Devon and Liliana go from physical passion to emotional friendship while proclaiming love rang with realistic emphasis on the way things were, and sometimes still are.  As they spent time together without the entourage and distrust between them, you could see the happily ever after to be, and yes, the squabbles as well.

Foibles and imperfections are brutally exposed and though we cringe the characters do not even flinch. They’re bold and gritty, hopeful and yes, aware they’re not always at their best when all is said and done; however no one gives up or bemoans cruel fate (yippee!).  They resolve to make amends where possible and carry on, regardless.  The use of jealousy to arouse interest is seldom a maneuver I can tolerate.  _But_ … in this case, it suited both the characters and the situation.  When they began talking, sharing their thoughts without the affectations of pride, confessing loneliness and hurts, I let go of my long standing prejudice against the machination.  Whether another author could’ve managed that I am not sure, certainly none before has done so.

The secondary characters, both the living and dead, were as intriguing and reflective of the times, as coarse in their own way as the awakening couple.  The historical details were devastatingly accurate.  There is no glossy coating here, this is a mature man, thrice married, that lives as men of wealth and position did. Liliana is no fool, only young, and without familiar support or anyone to lean on but her maid, she does what women did; find a way to make things work.  Not only did the writing hold my interest but also my admiration for a convincing honesty weaving a wonderful historically gothic tale.  I am already squeezing my budget for more of Ms. Howarth’s books! 





Regency/Victorian





Reviewed by Francine: 


Having ventured to the Far East as an East India Company man, Reinhart Maycott is essentially a reluctant aristocrat. His life in India encapsulates the intrepid and adventurous spirit of the young Reinhart, until the sudden and unexpected elevation to a marquisate forces him back to his homeland. And no matter his shady existence in the nether wilds of India and scandalous rumours that abound, every mama in England has taken note of his return to home shores, not least that of Lady Parbury, who immediately sets out to present her eldest and most ravishing daughter for his delectation.

Of course, Reinhart (Ren) is far from conventional, any more than young Mariah Parbury, who indeed recognises Ren’s extreme handsomeness as does her elder sister Rorie (Aurora), but it is his travels and former lifestyle that prove as captivating as his golden eyes to Mariah, whilst her mother sees only wealth and status for her eldest darling. And so the fun begins as Lady Parbury sets forth to create a match made in heaven, but the best laid plans ‘n’ all are thwarted as Ren’s past begins to encroach and threaten those close to him. As happened whilst in India, life becomes fraught with ever increasing dangers, and if love should blossom betwixt him and a Parbury miss the death knell may ring out as it had when he was far away in India.

The great mystery of who is plaguing Ren’s life comes to light at the very end of the story, as would be expected of a good suspense novel. I applaud the author for the story’s unusual theme of a man and his big cat, a man who harbours a secret longing for love but dare not embrace it. As for the delightful heroine with an inquisitive mind and foolish daring, she set the tone nicely for touches of farce, fear, and she was indeed deserving of a happy ever after. Nice one Ms Eastwood.