20 November 2020

#Cozy Mystery Book Review: #A Lady Compromised by #Darcie Wilde


Summary: A Lady Compromised (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #4) by Darcie Wild

Rosalind is pleased when she's invited to Cassel House to help her friend, Louisa, prepare for her upcoming wedding. But that's not the only event on her agenda. The trip will also afford Rosalind the chance to see Devon Winterbourne, the newly minted Duke of Casselmaine. Devon and Rosalind were on the verge of betrothal before the infamous Thorne family scandal derailed their courtship. Now Rosalind wonders if there's a chance their love might reignite.

Devon is as handsome as Rosalind remembers and it's clear the attraction they once shared hasn't waned. But their time together is interrupted by one crisis after another--not the least of which is an awkwardly timed request for help from Louisa's friend, Helen Corbyn.

Not long ago, the untimely death of Helen's brother, William, was ruled a suicide, but few people truly believe he took his own life. Helen needs to know what really happened--especially since she's engaged to the man some suspect of secretly killing William.

While Rosalind desperately wants to help, she fears her efforts might cast a pall over Louisa's nuptials, not to mention her reunion with Devon. But when another untimely death rocks the ton, Rosalind has no choice but to uncover the truth before more people die...even if her actions threaten her future with Devon (from Amazon).

My thoughts about this cozy murder mystery

When Baronet’s daughter and amateur sleuth Rosalind Thorne is asked to investigate what appears to be a suicide, she finds nothing is as it seems. Among the upper crust of society she discovers motives for bad deeds fueled by financial greed and social ambition.

A Lady Compromised is book 4 in Rosalind Thorne Mysteries by Darcie Wild, published by Kensington Books. This is the very entertaining and intriguing story about amateur sleuth Rosalind Thorne as she is invited to help solve a mysterious case. The authorities have decided it was suicide, but the victim’s sister thinks he was shot as he was getting ready to duel. Rosalind’s investigation reveals a string of hidden secrets and cover-ups among upper class families. They consider themselves beyond reproach, which the investigation totally contradicts.

Main character is Baronet’s daughter and amateur sleuth Rosalind Thorne. Her family has fallen on hard times following her father’s forger activity. She tries to hide this while assisting friends in need using her investigation skills and connections. She travels to opulent English country estates not unlike Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Dowager Lady Casselmaine is a well developed and interesting supporting character who seems to have chosen a reclusive life. Her character goes through a development process from rather standoffish into a more amiable person who tries to open herself up to the world and live a better life. For this reason she is my favorite of this story.

The fly-on-the-wall perspective of the upper class lifestyle I found thoroughly amusing. I can’t remember having read anything with similar detailed descriptions of how dinner parties might feel for guests. The characters came alive and felt both relatable and realistic in this setting. My favorite part was descriptions of the Dowager Countess’ journey and development through the story. I also loved following Rosalind’s somewhat complicated and interesting past with her host.
I didn’t know much beforehand about duels, which played an important role in the plot. I very much enjoyed the descriptions of the secrecy surrounding it. Bad attitudes against foreigners and a notion that some people have “superior genes” made the plot stand out, and added drama. I found this a unique, surprising element I have not read about before.

I read this as a standalone, which worked perfectly. The ending left me curious and opens up for the next book. While this is the first cozy mystery I have read by Darcie Wilde, I would very much like to start from the beginning and read the whole series.

Anyone who enjoys the affluent country environments reminiscent of Agatha Christie and Jane Austin would love this. Fans familiar with Darcie Wilde’s works would too.
Similar authors to explore might be Andrea Penrose and Rosemary Simpson.

Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for this opportunity to share my honest review. All opinions are completely my own.

Conclusion: A Lady Compromised is the entertaining and intriguing new installment in Rosalind Thorne Mysteries series. Amateur sleuth Rosalind Thorne solves crimes in Jane Austin-like opulent English country environments. Somebody ends up dead in what appears to be a duel gone horribly wrong. Bad attitude against foreigners was a unique and surprising element adding drama to the story. 

Rating: 5 stars / 5

Where to get your copy

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Hardcover

Barnes & Noble Hardcover

Barnes & Noble e book

Book Details

Hardcover : 352 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-1496720870
ISBN-10 : 1496720873
Publisher : Kensington (November 24, 2020)

About The Author

Darcie Wilde is a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel, author of mysteries, science fiction, romance and Young Adult fiction, including the New York Times Notable Book Fool’s War and the bestselling Rosalind Thorne mysteries A Useful Woman. She also writes under the names Delia James, Sarah Zettel, Jennifer Hawkins C. L. Anderson and Marissa Day.
Darcie writes her classically styled (not to mention stylish) mysteries as well as adventurous romances from a university town in a certain northern-midwestern state that has been known to bear some passing resemblance to a mitten. When not writing, she’s reading, cooking, hiking, swimming, climbing things, embroidering other things, raising her rapidly growing son and trying to convince her cat — Buffy the Vermin Slayer — not to do any further damage to the furniture (from Amazon).

13 November 2020

#Historical Romance Spotlight: #The Gentleman and the Thief by #Sarah M. Eden

Book Facts

Title: The Gentleman and the Thief: Proper Romance Victorian
Author: Sarah M. Eden
Series: Book 2 in The Dread Penny Society
Genre: Historical Mystery/Suspense, Victorian Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (November 3, 2020)
Length: (368) pages
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1629727905
Audiobook ASIN: B0872F3399
Tour Dates: November 2 – 29, 2020

Book Description:

A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance.
From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he's smitten. Even though he's from a wealthy, established family and she isn't, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father's successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the "Phantom Fox." She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis's brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

Advance Praise  

·"The real joy in Eden's follow-up to The Lady and the Highwayman (2019) is the furthering of the overarching crime story and the work of the Dread Penny Society as Hollis and Ana pursue a chaste romance. Eden excels at exploring the realities of Victorian life and class differences. Once again, chapters of penny dreadfuls written by the characters are interspersed throughout, with Hollis' story about a school for ghosts offering particular delight. Fans of Eden's smart series will be thrilled and impatient for the next installment."— Booklist, starred review

· “Every time I thought my racing heart just couldn’t take the suspense anymore, I'd turn the page and smile.”— Bookconfessions

· “Eden writes it well, so thoroughly researched that you’re transported and in Victoria England. Great suspense and romance.”— Leslie, Books and Socks Rock

· “Undeniably clever, suspenseful, well-researched, and deftly written…”— Katie Jackson, RegencyProofreading.com

· "Charming, suggestive, and featuring rich historical details, The Gentleman and the Thief has the elements of a gritty, juicy penny dreadful."— Foreword Reviews

Author Bio

Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances, including 2019’s Foreword Reviews INDIE Awards Gold Winner for Romance, The Lady and the Highwayman, and 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, Healing Hearts. She is a two-time “Best of State” Gold Medal winner for fiction and a three-time Whitney Award winner. Combining her obsession with history and her affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting deep characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Connect with the author via

6 November 2020

#Historical Romance Book Review: #A Castaway in Cornwall by #Julie Klassen

Summary: A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

Set adrift on the tides of fate by the deaths of her parents and left wanting answers, Laura Callaway now lives with her uncle and his disapproving wife in North Cornwall. There she feels like a castaway, always viewed as an outsider even as she yearns to belong.

While wreckers search for valuables along the windswept Cornwall coast--known for its many shipwrecks but few survivors--Laura searches for clues to the lives lost so she can write letters to next of kin and return keepsakes to rightful owners. When a man is washed ashore after a wreck, Laura acts quickly to protect him from a local smuggler determined to destroy him.

As Laura and a neighbor care for the survivor, they discover he has curious wounds and, although he speaks in careful, educated English, his accent seems odd. Other clues wash ashore, and Laura soon realizes he is not who he seems to be. Despite the evidence against him, the mysterious man might provide her only chance to discover the truth about her parents' fate. With danger pursuing them from every side, and an unexpected attraction growing between them, will Laura ever find the answers she seeks? (from Amazon).

My review

On a stormy night Physician’s daughter Laura Callaway is alerted that there’s a shipwreck on the local shore with only one survivor. Alexander Lucas hides his secrets well, but danger seems to follow him to Cornwall.

A Castaway in Cornwall is written by @Julie Klassen, published by Bethany House Publishers. The story is set in North Cornwall 1813 and we follow Laura Callaway as she works on her admirable project to salvage trinkets from wrecks and inform next of kin of their loved ones lost at sea. When another ship wrecks, a man is washed ashore and ends up in Laura’s care to be nursed back to life. He presents himself as Alexander Lucas, has a foreign accent and reveals very little about who he is and where he is from.

While this is the second book I have read recently with similar setting, this plot stands out in the way it describes people’s struggles to survive in rather modest circumstances. With a backdrop of the Napoleonic War, the story deals with the need to belong to a family and a community. As an orphan, Laura struggles with both.

Main character physician’s daughter Laura Callaway lost her parents and lives with non-blood relatives. For a woman who struggles so much, I quite admire how she is able to make such a difference in other people’s lives and that’s why she is my favorite of this story.

Supporting character naval sea Captain Alexander Lucas struggles with consequences of war, and goes through a process of learning how to trust again. I felt he seemed human and likable as we got to follow his thoughts and perspectives. Danger seemed to follow him ashore in Cornwall.

I loved the vivid descriptions of daily life and occasional celebrations at the Cornish coast. I could easily see how story could easily be adapted to a movie reminiscent of Poldark. I found the characters relatable and many of them sympathetic. A few really unlikable ones wired me up and added great drama. The mystery element was my favorite part, which related to Alexander Lucas previous life and family background gradually told via his perspective of the story.  

The romance part of the story seemed to be on the backburner until the last part of the plot. As danger was at the forefront, that made perfect sense to me. I enjoyed the dramatic parts of the story and the slightly surprising elements at the end.  I felt it was all expertly tied up into a satisfying conclusion to this standalone novel.

Anyone who enjoys a historical romance set in Cornwall will love this story. As will fans of Julie Klassen. Similar authors to explore while eagerly awaiting next release from Julie Klassen might be Kristi Ann Hunter or Jody Hedlund. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for this eARC which gave me the opportunity to share my honest review. All opinions are completely my own.

Conclusion: A Castaway in Cornwall is the entertaining and enjoyable story about a woman who struggles to belong and a man marked by war who both long for a place to call home.

Rating: 4 stars / 5

Where to by your copy

Book Details

Paperback : 400 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-0764234224
Publisher : Bethany House Publishers (December 1, 2020)

About The Author

A little about me…

I love all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, I worked in publishing for sixteen years and now write full time. Three of my books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park won the Minnesota Book Award, and The Silent Governess was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards. I have also been honored with the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. I enjoy travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. My husband and I have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. For more, visit author's website https://julieklassen.com/

30 October 2020

#Historical Cozy Mystery book review: #Death, Diamonds and Deception by #Rosemary Simpson


Summary: Death, Diamonds and Deception (A Gilded Age Mystery Book 5) by Rosemary Simpson 

The pursuit of stolen diamonds once belonging to Marie Antionette leads heiress Prudence MacKenzie and ex-Pinkerton Geoffrey Hunter down a twisted maze through Gilded Age New York City from Fifth Avenue to Five Points . . .
Fall 1889: Lady Rotherton has arrived from London intent on chaperoning her niece Prudence through a New York social season to find a suitable husband. It's certainly not her niece's devilishly handsome partner in Hunter and MacKenzie Investigative Law. Aunt Gillian's eye for eligible suitors is surpassed only by her ability to discern genuine gems from nearly flawless fakes. At the Assembly Ball at Delmonico's, she effortlessly determines that the stones in the spectacular diamond waterfall necklace adorning the neck of the wife of banker William De Vries are fake.
Insisting on absolute discretion to avoid scandal, the banker employs Prudence and Geoffrey to recover the stolen diamonds pried out of their settings—priceless stones acquired by Tiffany, originally purchased for Marie Antoinette. Their search for a possible fence rapidly leads to a dead end: a jeweler brutally killed in his shop during an apparent theft.
The jeweler's murder is only the first in a string of mysterious deaths, as Prudence and Geoffrey pursue their elusive quarry. But the clues keep leading back to duplicity on the part of the De Vries family, who, it turns out, have a great deal to hide . . .(from Amazon).

My review of this Cozy Mystery

When priceless diamonds are stolen socialite Prudence MacKenzie and colleague ex-Pinkerton investigator Geoffrey Hunter takes on the case. A series of mysterious deaths take place, which seem connected to the diamond theft.

Death, Diamonds and Deception is book 5 in A Gilded Age Mystery series by Rosemary Simpson, published by Kensington Publishing Corporation. The story is set in New York 1889 as famous and priceless diamonds are stolen and heiress Prudence MacKenzie and her colleague ex-Pinkerton investigator Geoffrey Hunter investigate the case.

Main character is late judge’s daughter Prudence MacKenzie. She is fiercely independent and not interested in the limitations of marriage. I enjoyed that, and hope such a woman existed in the Gilded Age.
Supporting character ex-Pinkerton investigator, Geoffrey Hunter has the nice guy role. I find it amusing how he pretends not to be romantically interested in Prudence. There is a sweet element of romance between Prudence and Geoffrey in the more quiet parts of the story, which adds interest to the story and what the ending might be.

This plot felt reminiscent of others I have read set in gilded age New York, but it stood out as it offered fascinating extra insight into the lives of the richest of Gilded Age New York. Historical facts were weaved into the expertly written story. It felt like I was a fly on the wall while learning more about diamonds. The story had an amusing, light vibe. I particularly enjoyed the parts describing the relationship between Prudence and her larger-than-life Aunt Gillian. Her character added a slightly surprising and unique element to the story as she did more than chaperone Prudence. Her title, wealth and formidable presence offered Prudence admission to establishments women would normally be unwelcome. Aunt Gillian was my favorite character and I thoroughly enjoyed when she interfered with Prudence’s questioning methods and generally meddled in her attempt at creating a professional life.

The characters felt real and relatable, particularly the hansom cab driver Danny Dennis who had insight into living conditions around Five Points. Descriptions of how life might have been in this part of the city were my least favorite of this story, but added an excellent dramatic effect.

I loved how loose ends were expertly tied together into a dramatic ending fit for a movie. This is the first I have read in this series and it worked perfectly as a standalone. The main characters and the hints to previous plots made me want to start from the beginning of the series and read up on the whole thing.

Anyone who enjoys stories set in Gilded Age and historical fiction is sure to love this one. As will fans of Rosemary Simpson. Similar authors to explore might be Kate Belli or Alyssa Maxwell.

Thank you to Kensington Publishing Corporation and NetGalley for this eARC which gave me the opportunity to share my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

Conclusion:  This is the entertaining story about a diamond theft in Gilded Age New York and a series of murders which seems to connect to it, and secrecy and cover ups within a prominent banker family are revealed. The perfect companion for an afternoon in front of the fire.

Rating: 5 stars / 5

Main reasons: well crafted plot, great writing and relatable characters, fabulous ending.

Where to by your copy

Amazon Hardcover

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Audio CD

Barnes & Noble Hardcover

Barnes & Noble e-book

Barnes & Noble Audio CD

Book Details

Publication Date : November 24, 2020
Print Length : 336 pages
Publisher : Kensington Books (November 24, 2020)

About The Author

Rosemary Simpson’s What the Dead Leave Behind is set in Gilded Age New York where the Great Blizzard of 1888 brings both disaster and independence to her wealthy and unconventional heroine. Lies that Comfort and Betray is the second in the Gilded Age Mystery series, to be followed by Final Portraits. Rosemary is also the author of two stand-alone historical novels, The Seven Hills of Paradise and Dreams and Shadows. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. Educated in France and the United States, she now lives near Tucson, Arizona. Author's website: http://rosemarysimpsonbooks.com/

23 October 2020

#Historical Romance Book Review: #Joy to the World by #Carolyn Miller, #Amanda Barratt and #Erica Vetsch


Summary: Joy to the World by Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt and Erica Vetsch

In Joy to the World, three popular romance authors come together to offer a heartwarming collection of holiday Regency romance. Based on lines from a beloved Christmas carol, these three novellas have depth, faith, and satisfying stories all packed into the perfect length for readers to curl up and take a brief break from their holiday busyness.

"Heaven and Nature Sing" by Carolyn Miller
Two music lovers, deeply devoted to each other, were on the brink of engagement when family circumstances drove them apart. How can they ever overcome both their obligations and their fears to find their way back into each other's arms?

"Far as the Curse Is Found" by Amanda Barratt
One winter night, a woman struggling to provide for her illegitimate child encounters a scarred veteran of the Napoleonic Wars on the streets of London. Can love conquer the darkness of two broken pasts?

"The Wonders of His Love" by Erica Vetsch
A Scots portrait painter finds work at a noble manor house over the holidays. He never imagined he'd fall in love with the emotionally frozen widow there. Now he wants nothing more than to thaw her heart (from Amazon).

My thoughts of Joy to the World

"Heaven and Nature Sing" by Carolyn Miller

The story is set in Wycombe, England, December 1813 and begins when gentleman’s daughter Edith Mansfield joins a Christmas gathering where she is shocked to meet estate owner George Bannerman. Edith rejected George’s proposal a year ago and neither of them has recovered. I enjoyed how the plot centers on the entertaining process when they try to get room to deal with their feelings while also take part in the Christmas cheer. My favorite part was the Christmas vibe I got from descriptions of activities reminiscent of modern day Christmas workshops and a walk in the estate woods to fetch greenery for decorations. The Christmas songs also naturally added to the Christmas cheer. Carolyn Miller writes beautifully and I loved the lighthearted and bantery dialogue between Edith and George. Edith frustrated me as I felt she lacked back bone, while George was the “nice guy” character who tried to win Edith back. The good natured, energetic and slightly meddling godmother, who hosted the gathering was my favorite character. A familiar character from The Elusive Miss Ellison (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace Book 1) was a welcome reminder, as I read the book some time ago. 

"Far as the Curse Is Found" by Amanda Barratt

The story is set in London, 1816 when war veteran Dwight Inglewood, Earl of Amberly happens upon seriously ill barmaid Jenny Grey on her way to give her baby up. He decides to offer her work at his estate.  The setting of the plot seems slightly less affluent and different from others I have read and I felt it had a Dickensian vibe in the beginning as Jenny was in desperate circumstances. Later it goes on to feel reminiscent of beauty and the beast. Dwight isolates himself and neglects the estate, while Jenny prays to God for guidance how to help him. I loved how Jenny and Dwight tried to be positive forces in each other’s lives without asking for anything in return and that their feelings for each other grew from a base of friendship. I particularly enjoyed the parts describing how Jenny introduced Dwight to reading the Bible, which had a positive effect on his mental health. His attitude towards life seemed to shift and he grew conscious of people around him, including Jenny and her baby.

"The Wonders of His Love" by Erica Vetsch

The story is set in Oxfordshire, 1814 when Lady Pricilla, Cilla, Haverly meets portrait painter Scottish artist Hamish Sincclair, who has come to paint Cilla’s brother and sister-in-law as a Christmas present. This plot feels unusual as it deals with a privileged female character who is set to become a duchess when her husband dies and she becomes more of a servant to the dowager duchess. I loved that she wants to change her life, feeling uncomfortable in her present role in the family. The characters of this story were very entertaining and felt likable and realistic, save for a couple of seriously unpleasant ones. I loved that Cilla seemed to have a loving and close relationship with her brother and sister-in-law made clear to all on Christmas. That a relationship could develop between Cilla and Hamish as they were of such different classes felt an enjoyable and slightly surprising element. The story mentioned familiar characters from the Serendipity & Secret series, interesting for new readers.

Recommendations: Anyone who enjoys light hearted historical Christmas read will love this. As will fans of Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt and Erica Vetsch. All opinions in this review are completely my own. Similar authors to explore might be Kristi Ann Hunter or Leah Garriott.

Conclusion: Three entertaining stories about Christmas activities and celebrations beginning of the 1800s. While settings differ in grandeur, all enjoy similar celebrations and singing of Christmas carols. The writing is beautiful and the characters relatable. It adds up to very nice entertainment in front of the fire with a cup of tea.

Rating: 4 stars / 5

Main reasons: beautiful writing, entertaining plots and characters 

Where to buy your copy

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Paperback

Book Details

Print Length : 336 pages
Publication Date : October 13, 2020
Publisher : Kregel Publications (October 13, 2020)

About The Authors

Carolyn Miller

I'm an Inspirational romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia with my husband and four children. Together with my husband I pastored a church for ten years, and I've worked as a high school English and Learning and Support teacher. I love reading (especially Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer), music, films, gardens, art, travel and food. I really enjoy creating worlds where flawed people can grow in faith, hope and love. I am represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube agency. Author's website: https://www.carolynmillerauthor.com/

Amanda Barratt

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story--a spin-off of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical fiction, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. She's the author of over a dozen novels and novellas including The White Rose Resists: A Novel of the German Students Who Defied Hitler and My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Lost Love.
Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.
Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at https://amandabarratt.net/

Erica Vetsch

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She's a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she's not writing fiction, she's planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time! 

16 October 2020

#Cozy Murder Mystery #The Killings at Kingfisher Hill: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by #Sophie Hannah

Summary: The Killings at Kingfisher Hill: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah

Hercule Poirot is traveling by luxury passenger coach from London to the exclusive Kingfisher Hill estate. Richard Devonport has summoned the renowned detective to prove that his fiancĂ©e, Helen, is innocent of the murder of his brother, Frank. Poirot will have only days to investigate before Helen is hanged, but there is one strange condition attached: he must conceal his true reason for being there from the rest of the Devonport family.

The coach is forced to stop when a distressed woman demands to get off, insisting that if she stays in her seat, she will be murdered. Although the rest of the journey passes without anyone being harmed, Poirot’s curiosity is aroused, and his fears are later confirmed when a body is discovered with a macabre note attached . . .

Could this new murder and the peculiar incident on the coach be clues to solving the mystery of who killed Frank Devonport? And if Helen is innocent, can Poirot find the true culprit in time to save her from the gallows?(from Amazon).

My review of this cozy murder mystery

When Poirot is summoned to Kingfisher Hill, he has to promise to keep the investigation secret. Travelling there, he realizes he is dealing with two complex murders including plenty of distractions.

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill is the New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah, published by William Morrow. The story is set in fictional Kingfisher Hill country estate in Surrey 1922. We follow Hercule Poirot and new colleague Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool as they are summoned to Kingfisher Hill to solve the murder of Frank Devonport. They travel by luxury motor coach where a seemingly disturbed woman is adamant she will be killed if she sits in a certain seat. Poirot agrees to switch seats and takes her place next to another woman who confesses to a murder. Nothing happens to him and Poirot is both shocked and curious to see if these two occurrences on the coach are linked to the murder he is assigned to solve.

Main character Hercule Poirot seems his recognizable self. I enjoy how new details makes him even more interesting while the most important original traits are still in place; maybe with some new twists. I find it charming that he uses more French language.

Second main character and narrator is Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpole. I love how he conducts independent questionings of some witnesses. Perhaps a slightly modern way of dealing with investigations,

I love how the writing style is so excellently in keeping with the original Agatha Christie novels. An amusing vibe, in parts, does not get in the way of the seriousness of the murder investigation. In the centre of the story is the Devonport family who has an extreme capacity for denial. This might have been customary in the 1920s, so it adds an old fashioned feel to the story. Poirot allows Inspector Catchpool an independent, trusted position which might be a modern touch, but he still has to work with Poirot’s detailed lists. I feel this element adds information, clarifies and drives the plot forward in an amazing way.

My absolute favorite part of the story is Poirot’s interaction with amusing character Hester Semley. She is a feisty old lady who is insulted by Poirot’s tendency to interrupt her to dig out more details for the investigation.

I am not able to reveal my least favorite part of the story to avoid spoiler. Lets just say it relates to the second murder. 

Fans of Agatha Christie will love this new mystery. As will readers of cozy mysteries.

Similar author to explore might be Agatha Christie.

Thank you to Kristiansand Public Library @krsbib for lending me this book. It gave me the opportunity to share my honest review and all opinions are completely my own. 

Conclusion: This is the exiting new story where Hercule Poirot solves two complex murders helped by his interesting colleague, Scotland Yard Inspector, Edward Catchpool.  They have to deal with a family with extraordinary capacity for denial living in an enclosed country estate. This is the perfect addition to the library of Agatha Christie books for fans old and new. I will be eagerly awaiting Sophie Hannah’s next release. 

Rating: 5 stars / 5

Main reasons: interesting and complex plot, fabulous writing,  great character building.

Where to buy your copy

Amazon Hardcover

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Hardcover

Barnes & Nobe Large Print

Book details

Hardcover : 288 pages
ISBN-10 : 0062792377
ISBN-13 : 978-0062792372
Publisher : William Morrow (September 15, 2020)

About The Author

Sophie Hannah is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling writer of crime fiction, published in forty-nine languages and fifty-one territories. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. In 2014, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate, Sophie published a new Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, which was a bestseller in more than fifteen countries. She has since published two more Poirot novels, Closed Casket and The Mystery of Three Quarters, both of which were instant Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers.

In 2013, Sophie’s novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards.  She has also published two short story collections and five collections of poetry – the fifth of which, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A Level and degree level across the UK. Most recently, she has published a self-help book called How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment – The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life.

Sophie has recently helped to create a Master’s Degree in Crime and Thriller Writing at the University of Cambridge, for which she is the main teacher and Course Director. She is also the founder of the DREAM AUTHOR coaching programme for writers. She lives with her husband, children and dog in Cambridge, where she is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College.

9 October 2020

#Historical Romance Book Review #An Ivy Hill Christmas by #Julie Klassen

Summary: An Ivy Hill Christmas: A Tales from Ivy Hill Novella by Julie Klassen

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill's most prominent family, hasn't been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life--unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

But Christmas in the country presents unforeseen surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled . . . and determined to have nothing to do with him.

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, joyous songs, and divine hope, work its magic in his heart . . . and hers as well?  (from Goodreads).

My review of the historical romance An Ivy Hill Christmas

When Richard Brockwell arrives in Ivy Hill for a Christmas visit, he is unprepared to meet childhood friend Arabella Awdry . She is familiar with his reputation as a rake and a libertine and she avoids him like the plague, while he keeps staying away from all eligible ladies.

An Ivy Hill Christmas is the Christmas historical romance novella by Julie Klassen, published by Bethany House Publishers. The story is set in fictional village Ivy Hill 1822 and we follow younger son Richard Brockwell as he comes to spend Christmas with his family. His mother wants to cut him off financially if he doesn’t make an effort to find a suitable lady to marry. Richard tries to scare off every eligible lady and continue his care-free life in London. His childhood friend Arabella Awdry also has no plans to marry and wants to spend her time doing charity work in London. They come to have a nice and relaxing time together, but Arabella is convinced Richard cannot be trusted.

Main character is budding, yet unpublished author, Richard Brockwell who seems a seriously shallow and uncharitable man with a bad reputation in London. I loved to follow his journey as he stayed with family and friends in Ivy Hill.

Supporting character is bluestocking philanthropist, Arabella Awdry. She is a strong and independent lady who is seriously unimpressed by Richard’s behavior around women; but has a secret wish for love and happiness. I liked her multilayered character a lot and she is my favorite of this story.

This sweet story was such a pleasure to read. It gave me all the Christmassy feels with the decorating, carol singing and church going. Even the rare occasion of snow. I loved how the beautiful book cover also set the tone of what to expect.

As always I loved Julie Klassen’s signature writing and the light and amusing dialogue. I particularly enjoyed the mystery element to do with a secret from Richard’ past.
My favorite part of the story was descriptions of church on Christmas Day. The part I found less enjoyable was descriptions of how a printer’s apprentice was treated.  But I felt it made an excellent dramatic element.

When Richard scared Arabella off and she made her lack of interest in him blathantly clear, they both relaxed more which made room for feelings to grow. Richard seemed to go through a substantial change from his self serving life and become more aware of people around him.

This story is recommended for anyone who enjoys historical romance fiction and for fans of Julie Klassen. Similar authors to explore might be Kristi Ann Hunter or Erica Vetsch. 

Thank you to publisher House Publishers and NetGalley for this eARC, which gave me the opportunity to share my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own. 

Conclusion: This is the entertaining Christmas novella about confirmed bachelor Richard Brockwell who pretends to be a rake and Arabella Awdry who pretends to be a spinster. A satisfying Christmas add-on to the Tales from Ivy Hill series and the perfect read on a quiet afternoon in front of the fire or while on a break from Christmas preparations. 

Rating: 5 stars / 5

Main reasons: entertaining Christmassy plot, great characters old and new, signature writing, enjoyable mystery element.

Where to get your copy

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Book details

Publication Date : September 1, 2020
Print Length : 212 pages
Publisher : Bethany House Publishers (September 1, 2020)


Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Minnesota Book Award, the Midwest Book Award, and Christian Retailing's BEST Award. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota (from Amazon). Visit   https://julieklassen.com/ and talesfromivyhill.com for more information.