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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review - Cocoa Conspiracy

Thanks for all the participants in the Mid Winter's Blog Hop.  Here are the winners for the book giveaway:   Kara D, kswederski, Jenna C, SHartl, Mona, Michelle @ The True Book Addict.  You will be notified by email to supply me with your mailing address. 

Today I review one of the books in that was available in the giveaway.  I reviewed the first in the series (click here)  and I interviewed the author (click here).  This was the second book in the new series and often the second book is difficult to match or top the debut book.  Read on to find out how well this second venture in this new historical mystery series faired after my rave review of the first novel.

Author: Andrea Penrose

Copyright: December 2011 (Signet) 336 pgs

Series: 2nd Lady Arianna Regency Mysteries

Sensuality: mild period innuendo

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy Mystery

Main Character: Lady Arianna, newly married to Alessandro de Quincy, Earl Saybrook

Setting: 1814 London, English countryside and Vienna

Obtained Through: publisher for an honest review

Arianna is purchasing a special book on Chocolate for her husband Saybrook when she is accosted by a man insisting he must have the book. Arianna doesn't shrink from the man even when he pulls a knife, but manages to come away unscathed and with the book. When wrapping the present she finds papers have been secreted in the book that appear to involve treason. This discovery propels Arianna and Saybrook to the Congress of Vienna that brings together dignitaries from around the world. Their mission is to prevent an assassination attempt that could upset the power structure of Europe.

There is plenty of suspense and intrigue in this book as Arianna even goes undercover at one point. I literally could not put the book down. There is the political tension and suspense of spying added to the suspense of Saybrook and Arianna learning to really trust one another's motives which doesn't come easy to either. I love both of these characters. Saybrook is dark and dangerous, closed off and Arianna is used to living by her wits on her own.

Will they stop the assassination and learn to trust each other fully? Will the enemy they crossed paths with in the first book finally be identified and brought to justice? With their personal enemy in the government finally leave them alone? While this book stands on its own fine, there are some threads from the prior book that are woven into this one to allow a running subplot (think something along the lines of Sherlock's nemesis Moriarty.)

The final confrontation is exciting and the wrap-up sets up another adventure to tease the reader. I am already anxiously waiting for the next book in the series.

Again I say that this book is a higher caliber than is hinted at by the artwork and blurbs. The period detail is seamlessly woven to paint a vivid backdrop. The characters effortlessly draw the reader into their world and drama. The plots are nicely crafted for maximum effective.

I truly believe this series is one of those undiscovered gems that will steadily garner a large fan base with each new addition to the series.

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Ann Summerville said...

Thanks for posting. I'll look out for this.

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