Rounding up the last few weeks of books…
Scandal Above Stairs, Jennifer Ashley == I’m totally in this series for the food, which remains glorious. It makes me want to go find a bad scan of a Mrs. Beeton and start mucking around with converting recipes. All the good/fun characters are back, and a few new ones introduced. There was a mystery and it was suitably convoluted. There was a little bit of peril and I think I approve of the slowly-blooming secondary romance/friendship. Maybe we found out a little too much about Daniel here? Or maybe not. Maybe I’m jumping the gun.
An Extraordinary Union, Alyssa Cole == Holy crap, that was the most nerve-wracking romance I’ve read in a long time. Most romance writers don’t tackle scenarios where their main characters can’t really even be seen speaking to each other without calling down horrible consequences from the society around them. Ms. Cole starts there and keeps right on escalating. She navigates one tricky situation after another, always making sure we, the readers, are crystal clear on just how high the personal stakes are to the characters and how much they were willing to gamble, not just for each other, but for their beliefs and morals. It makes the love Elle and Malcolm find that much deeper and richer, and the ending that much more satisfying. Also, note that this is not a fade-to-black romance and that characters are in mortal peril.
Why Kill the Innocent, C. S. Harris == Thirteen books is a long time to keep a series and its characters fresh, but I’m pretty sure I liked this one more than the first few. The glory here is in the historical details and I love how Ms. Harris weaves the notable figures of the Regency into the overall mysteries. She always works with the actual events of the time to set the stage, and this particular story has ties to Princess Charlotte, there are secrets, feuds (the Prince and Princess of Wales loathed each other), petty jealousies writ large (again with Prinny), and betrayals that could ruin the kingdom. At the same time, she makes everyone human and, especially in this book, lays out the less-than-even hand women had to deal with, in the arts, in politics, and in legal matters. (I also really love the Afterword for each book where there’s an extra dollop of the history surrounding Sebastian and his circle.