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Monday, September 26, 2022

Review - A Fiances Guide to First Wives and Murder

 This is one of my favorite historical cozy mystery series.  The specific sub-genre is chock full of many good series, but this series is delightful and I'm a fan.  Check out what has won me over.

Previous reviews:

1) A Lady's Guide to Ettiquette and Murder 

3) the Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder 

Author: Dianne Freeman

Copyright: July 2011 (Kensington Books) 306 pgs

Series: 4th in Countess of Harleigh Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical cozy mystery, amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh

Setting: Victorian era, London and countryside, England

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "For Frances Wynn, widow to the late Earl of Harleigh, life has a cosmopolitan flavor of late. No sooner has she sent her mother and daughter off on a shopping trip to Paris than she and her fiancĂ©, George Hazelton, are socializing with visiting members of the Russian royal family. Amid this whirlwind, scandal also comes calling when Inspector Delaney turns up outside Frances’s house with a young French woman with a shocking claim: she is Mrs. George Hazelton.

 As the future Mrs. George Hazelton, Frances assumes the woman is either lying or demented. “Mrs. Hazelton,” aka Irena, makes other outrageous statements. Among them, she insists that she is the illegitimate daughter of Russian royalty, that she has been abducted many times, and that someone is sending her threatening letters. When George arrives, he clarifies that he is certainly not married to Irena—though he can confirm her royal parentage. But even as he agrees to investigate whether Irena’s life is in danger, her claim proves tragically true. Irena is found strangled in Frances’s garden.

 To uncover a killer—and clear their own names—Frances and George must determine which of Irena’s outlandish stories were based in fact. And as the search reaches a shocking conclusion, they may find that villainy lurks all too close to home . . ." 

My Thoughts:

Frances Wynn, one of my favorite heroines, loved her husband and has grieved his death. So many historical mysteries have the deceased husband as unpleasant and the woman is relieved, so this is a pleasant change.  She is newly engaged to George Hazelton who had become her best friend over the previous books, and was a good friend of her late husband. They both are tested by the surprise woman claiming to be George's wife, but also by societal norms around the situation.  

The setting of Victorian England is always well portrayed and creates an immersive backdrop.  The plot has several twists and turns along the way. The climax had some tense moments and was well done.  This is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery that fully incorporates the era and finely realized characters.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

Here is an interview with the author.

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Thursday, September 1, 2022

Review - Getaway with Murder

The author of Southern Homebrew, House Flipper, Paw Enforcement mysteries, and Tara Holloway novels brings us a new mystery series.  This series takes into the mountains to a rustic lodge where death checks in.

Author: Diane Kelly

Copyright: October 2021 (Berkley) 296 pgs

Series: 1st in Mountain Lodge Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery

Main Character: Misty Murphy, new owner of the Mountaintop Lodge

Setting: Modern day, Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "As if hitting the half-century mark wasn’t enough, Misty Murphy celebrated her landmark birthday by amicably ending her marriage and investing her settlement in a dilapidated mountain lodge at the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With the old inn teetering on both a bluff and bankruptcy, she must have lost her ever-loving mind.

Luckily, handyman Rocky Crowder has a knack for rehabbing virtual ruins and for doing it on a dime, and to Misty’s delight, the lodge is fully booked on opening night, every room filled with flexible folks who’d slipped into spandex and ascended the peak for a yoga retreat with plans to namastay for a full week. Misty and her guests are feeling zen—at least until the yoga instructor is found dead.

With a killer on the loose and the lodge’s reputation hanging in the balance, Misty must put her detective-skills to the test. Only one thing is as clear as a sunny mountain morning—she must solve the crime before the lodge ends up, once again, on the brink."

My Thoughts:  Features Misty Murphy as a newly divorced and just turned fifty amateur sleuth, a hunky handyman named Rocky, a new age housekeeper, and a diner owner as her new best friend. The characters were all fun and relatable. A dog named Molasses and cat called Yeti are delightful additions. This debut novel has a basic whodunit plot with a lodge full of suspects that each have motive or opportunity. The setting is stellar and adds to the storyline. I was engaged and read through it every chance I had. As the first book, Misty guesses everyone at the lodge at one point, but she learns as she goes. I enjoyed this book with its mountain setting and the characters rounded out the story.  I will be back for more.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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