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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Review - Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens

I loved Andrea Penrose's Lady Arianna Regency mystery series and I jumped on board this series of hers with the first book.  It continues to be one on my go-to series.  

1)  Murder on Swan Lake (review here
2)  Murder at Halfmoon Gate (review here
3)  Murder at Kensington Palace (review here
4)  Murder at Queen's Landing (review here
Author interview (click here

A thrilling new mystery novel from the acclaimed author of Murder at Queen’s Landing, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anne Perry! The wedding of the Earl of Wrexford and Lady Charlotte Sloane is not-to-be-missed, but the murder of a brilliant American scientist threatens their plans—and their lives…

Andrea Penrose

Copyright: Sept 2021 (Kensington Books) 250 pgs

Series: 5th in Wrexford & Sloan Mystery series

Sensuality: mild

Mystery Sub-genre: historical Suspense, hsitorical amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Widowed Charlotte Sloane, a satirical cartoonist under the name A.J. Quill, estranged from her family

Setting: Regency Era, London England

Obtained Through: Netgalley

Book Blurb: "One advantage of being caught up in a whirl of dress fittings and decisions about flower arrangements and breakfast menus is that Charlotte Sloane has little time for any pre-wedding qualms. Her love for Wrexford isn’t in question. But will being a wife—and a Countess—make it difficult for her to maintain her independence—not to mention, her secret identity as famed satirical artist A.J. Quill?
Despite those concerns, there are soon even more urgent matters to attend to during Charlotte and Wrexford’s first public outing as an engaged couple. At a symposium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a visiting botanist suffers a fatal collapse. The traces of white powder near his mouth reveal the dark truth—he was murdered. Drawn into the investigation, Charlotte and the Earl learn of the victim’s involvement in a momentous medical discovery. With fame and immense fortune at stake, there’s no shortage of suspects, including some whose ruthlessness is already known. But neither Charlotte nor her husband-to-be can realize how close the danger is about to get—or to what lengths this villain is prepared to go."

Lady Charlotte is approaching her marriage to Wrex, which is a major change in her life: giving up her autonomy. She feels compelled to look into the murder for justice's sake.  She also has a reunion with her remaining sibling and is a ball of nerves over it. Great Aunt Alison is a stellar character and continues to be a stalwart supporter of Charlotte. Raven and Hawk, the two street orphans she had taken in years before are becoming shrewd young men who still have enough "hood" in them to help investigate. They seem to realize more and more how much Charlotte means to them as she tries to protect them in this book.  The Earl of Wrexford, Wrex for short, is determined to ensure the safety of Charlotte and the boys as they approach the wedding. I love how he accepts her independence and won't make dictates to her, just expresses his concerns. 

Kit Sheffield is Wrex's best friend who is trying to be more responsible and has invested in starting a shipping company. Kit is head-over-heels for his business partner but feels unworthy.  Lady Cordelia, is the boy's math tutor and Kit's business partner in the shipping business. 

The setting is partially the large and impressive Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens) and the rough and dangerous shipping docks.  Both the gardens and the docks are meticulously recreated on the page so you are immersed.

The plot is two-fold: Find the murderer and thereby hopefully save the medical discovery that the visiting botanist intended to be free to save lives.  The suspects bring about many twists in the story and keep the pacing moving along.
The killer confrontation/reveal is an exciting race with danger and a daring attempt to catch the killer.  The climax is well written and quite tense and lives up to the established high bar set by previous books in the series.  The wrapup is the wedding and is delightful.

There are so many aspects to this book that the pages fly by.  The mystery is an exciting race to bring justice as well as save lives with recovering the medical discovery. The killer was a surprise as there were many twists surrounding the suspects.  Wrex and Charlotte are realistic in their approaching joining their lives.  Their balanced relationship is touching and heartwarming.  Raven and Hawk being accepted by Wrex and his including them in his life is equally touching.    The wedding at the end isn't to be missed for fans.

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

Here is a video on the gardens and their importance.

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