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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review - The Counterfeit Lady

I reviewed the debut novel in this new series, The Vanishing Thief (click here), and was so fortunate to get an author interview (click here) as well.   But, in this book Georgia must break out of her comfort zone for an undercover assignment with the Duke of Blackford.  

Author: Kate Parker

Copyright: August 2014 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 2nd in Victorian Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: Kissing

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Mystery

Main Characters: Georgia Fenchurch, antiquarian bookseller and member of the Archivist Society

Setting: Victorian era - after 1851, London

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Georgia has a good friend, Lady Phyllida Monthalf, whose cousin

A cousin of Georgia’s dear friend, Lady Phyllida Monthalf, is murdered in her home.  It is suspected the murder occured during the theft of blueprints of a new battleship designed by her husband.  Kenneth Gattenger, the husband is now accused of her murder…and treason. The Duke of Blackford helps the government in this situation and he in turn enlists Georgia and the Archivist Society to assist in the investigation. But the twist, Georgia gets to go under-cover as the Duke's new Society lady conquest.  

Georgia moves among the upper echelons of London’s elite to uncover a master spy and recover the stolen ship plans.  The other society ladies make sure that Georgia knows she isn't titled and thus the Duke could never actually marry her.  Sadly, in the course of the clandestine investigation, the Duke and Georgia grow closer, but Georgia always has the cloud of the difference in their societal positions hanging over her.  Besides Lady Phyllida's cousin being killed, there is another murder as well.  Additionally, at one point in the investigation, Georgia spots the man who murder her parents over a decade ago and she is torn between staying the course with the undercover investigation or following the man.  She also frets over leaving her bookstore without her guidance, afraid that her business is in jeopardy.

Georgia, a middle-class trades-person who is bright, brave, determined, loves her mundane bookstore is endowed with a methodical mind.  Emma, her best friend, whose former life made her very street-wise and good with a knife, plays her lady's maid in the investigation.  Lady Phyllida Monthalf must leave the bookstore and face her troubled past to provide Georgia her society cover story.  The Duke of Blackford is dangerous and perhaps a touch conniving.  Naturally, there is a cast of suspects and a few twists to keep things interesting.

I love Victorian England in this series, not too grimy nor romanticized. The sense of propriety in public is shown as a thin veneer over affairs and indiscretions.  I feel this plot was even better than the first book, and pacing that kept me turning the pages.  The climax was well concieved and executed.  The wrap-up was heart wrenching and definitely left me wanting the next book immediately. 

This second novel in the series is gripping and sweeps the reader into a heady mix of intrigue, murder, high society manipulation and game playing, with just enough romance to tantalize.  Well played Ms. Parker.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

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Mystica said...

Do so like the setting of this book.

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