Tag Archives: Mystery

Reivew: I Adored a Lord by Katharine Ashe

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I adored a lord

Title: I Adored a Lord (The Prince Catchers #2)

Author: Katharine Ashe

Published: July 29, 2014 by Avon

Genre: Historical Romance

Rating: 4½ out of 5 stars

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Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Three very different sisters beguile society with their beauty and charm, but only one of them must fulfill a prophecy: marry a prince. Who is the mystery Prince Charming, and which sister will be his bride?

All that clever, passionate Ravenna Caulfield wants is to stay far away from high society’s mean girls.

All that handsome, heroic Lord Vitor Courtenay wants is to dash from dangerous adventure to adventure.

Now, snowbound in a castle with a bevy of the ton’s scheming maidens all competing for a prince’s hand in marriage, Ravenna’s worst nightmare has come true.

Now, playing babysitter to his spoiled prince of a half-brother and potential brides, Vitor is champing at the bit to be gone.

When a stolen kiss in a stable leads to a corpse in a suit of armor, a canine kidnapping, and any number of scandalous liaisons, Ravenna and Vitor find themselves wrapped in a mystery they’re perfectly paired to solve. But as for the mysteries of love and sex, Vitor’s not about to let Ravenna escape until he’s gotten what he desires . . .

I tend to avoid titles like this; “I Adored a Lord” just seems kinda cheesy, but I was reading some early reviews and it sounded too fun to pass up. I was right, this is just a light read, a wonderful combination of historical romance and mystery. Usually, I’m not a fan of romance clogging up my mysteries, but I do like it when a mystery helps along a romance, which it does here. I guess it comes down to how it’s being sold – as a mystery or a romance.  At heart, I Adored a Lord is a romance and an enjoyable one at that.

Ravenna is not a society charmer and it’s her sister’s fault she’s at this party. Ravenna is a gifted medic adores animals. She’s a bright woman and not afraid to be who she is. Well, I take that back, she prefers to be seen as less special than she is. Vitor has issues – he’s been celibate for a couple of years, was tortured at one point in time and has a reasonable distrust of his brother. But he’s not the pushy, alpha-male. He makes men puff their chests out and woman stare from under lowered eyelids, but he tries not to notice. Sparks are apparent at their first meeting in the stable, but the romance is a slow-simmering one. There’s plenty of heat, but it doesn’t build too quickly. The reason I really liked Vitor though is that he appreciates Ravenna’s intelligence, curiosity, tenacity. Yes, he finds her beautiful and tempting and enjoys teasing her, but he would not want her to act like the other society maidens with their fawning, their cattiness. That’s what makes them a great pair, both as potential lovers and as a pair of detectives.

The book does have a large cast of characters to keep track of, but eventually you get to know them all. They are (almost) all suspects and it’s interesting to try to guess whodunnit as the clues are revealed. So many suspects, none seemingly with much of a motive. I was kept guessing, but I usually am.

It is the second in the series, but works fine as a stand-alone. I may go back and read the first one, though, just because I enjoyed this one so much. Or not and I’ll just wait for the third. I do think Katherine Ashe is an author I’ll read more of.

I Adored a Lord is probably one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It’s just fun and made me smile.

Audiobook Review: Angelica’s Smile by Andrea Camilleri

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angelica's smile

Title: Angelica’s Smile (Inspector Montalbano #17)

Author: Andrea Camilleri

Translator: Stephen Sartarelli

Read by: Grover Gardner

Category: Mystery

Audio published: June 24, 2014 by Blackstone Audio

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Purchase: Audible | Amazon | Book Depository

A rash of burglaries has Inspector Salvo Montalbano stumped. The criminals are so brazen that their leader, the anonymous Mr. Z, starts sending the Sicilian inspector menacing letters. Among those burgled is the young and beautiful Angelica Cosulich, who reminds the inspector of the love-interest in Ludovico Ariosto’s chivalric romance, Orlando Furioso. Besotted by Angelica’s charms, Montalbano imagines himself back in the medieval world of jousts and battles. But when one of the burglars turns up dead, Montalbano must snap out of his fantasy and unmask his challenger.

I like this series more in theory than I do in fact. Angelica’s Smile was okay, but not outstanding. Of course, it probably didn’t help that I missed all the Orlando Furioso references, since I’d never heard of it, let alone read it. Apparently, it’s “one of the most influential works in the whole of European literature” and I’ve missed out on it. Once again, Montalbano falls in lust at first sight. Maybe it’s some kind of midlife crisis, he feeling old, she’s attractive, he decides cheating on his girlfriend is an option after all. Meh.

The burglaries themselves are rather interesting, although the criminal is contacting Montalbano directly, which happened in the last book I listened to in this series. Does that actually happen often in real life? I kinda doubt it.

The Sicily setting is fabulous and does often lead to some great food. And I like the general attitude, it’s amusing and clever. Montalbano’a a bit of a jerk, but in a good way. I don’t think I’d like him in real life, but he’s enjoyable to read about.

This one didn’t grab me though. There was nothing that really elevated it from your average mystery. The cast of secondary characters/suspects was a bit long and with all the Italian names they were hard for me to keep straight. The end was a bit confusing too, maybe because it was on audio and I wasn’t fully paying attention, but I was happy with at least part of the whodunnit.

Grover Gardner did a good job as the narrator, I thought. He has the right tone for Montalbano and he makes it sound foreign but not too much so, if that makes sense. The audio’s short, about 5½ hours, and has a lot going on, so it kept my attention. For a good quick read, it’s not bad, but the first few I read in the series I enjoyed more than the last couple. I don’t know if I’m being more picky now, or if they’re just not as good.

Edit: If you’re interested, here the link to the Wikipedia article on Orlando Furioso.

Review: Vintage Murder by Ngaio Marsh

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Vintage murder

Title: Vintage Murder (Inspector Alleyn #5)

Author: Ngaio Marsh

First published: 1937

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

Death served well-chilled

The leading lady of a theater company touring New Zealand was stunningly beautiful. No one-including her lover-understood why she married the company’s pudgy producer. But did she rig a huge jeroboam of champagne to kill her husband during a cast party?

Did her sweetheart? Or was another villain waiting in the wings? On a holiday down under, Inspector Roderick Alleyn must uncork this mystery and uncover a devious killer…

I was having trouble deciding what to read. I’m halfway through a couple of books and just kinda stuck. I was sitting in the chair and happened to see this on the bookshelf, so I pulled it off. Marsh rarely disappoints me.

Vintage Murder comes pretty early in the series. Alleyn is in New Zealand recovering from something or other, but none of these fictional detectives can actually have vacations. He happens to be travelling in the same train as a theater group. He ends up becoming friendly with them, goes to see the shoe and at the party afterwards someone is of course killed – by a giant bottle of champagne no less.

Marsh is one of the original Queens of Crime, but she also loved the theater, and her thorough knowledge of the theater people and the actual stage mechanics are on display here. Alleyn is her series character, an intelligent likeable man, but she also manages to give the secondary characters full personalities. They are a rather colorful cast, and of course all of them are potential suspects.

One thing I like about Marsh, besides knowing what to expect from her books, is her descriptions. She has an eye for detail, whether it be the landscape or suspects reactions during interrogations. I do wish Alleyn would fill us in on what he’s thinking along the way, but the explanation at the end pulls it all together.

The one negative probably comes from the era when it was written. A bit of Maori culture was included, but more as an interesting piece of the puzzle than a true interest. And the Maori people themselves are portrayed as barely civilized. But the 30s could be rather racist and sexist.

Even though this is the 5th in the series, it definitely works as a stand-alone or out of order, which is how I’ve been reading them.

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