The Butcher of Smithfield: Chaloner's Third Exploit in Restoration London
by Susanna Gregory
Published by Sphere
Thomas Chaloner, just returned from a clandestine excursion to Spain and Portugal on behalf of the Queen, finds London dank and grey under leaden skies. He finds many things changed, including the Government slapping a tax on printed newspapers. Handwritten news reports escape the duty, and the rivalry between the producers of the two conduits of news is the talk of the coffee houses with the battle to be first with any sort of intelligence escalating into violent rivalry. And it seems that a number of citizens who have eaten cucumbers have come to untimely deaths. It is such a death which Chaloner is despatched to investigate; that of a lawyer with links to 'the Butcher of Smithfield', a shady trader surrounded by a fearsome gang of thugs who terrorise the streets well beyond the confines of Smithfield market. Chaloner doesn't believe that either this death or the others are caused by a simple vegetable, but to prove his theory he has to untangle the devious means of how news is gathered and he has to put his personal safety aside as he tries to penetrate the rumour mill surrounding the Butcher of Smithfield and discover his real identity.
Chaloner is as snarky as ever, and he hasn't been paid in months. Not to mention that his living accomodation isn't up to standard and he can't complain until he's paid the rent. Plus his latest investigation, while potentially solving his money problems looks likely to land him in even more trouble than usual.
A fun romp as ever.
Along Came a Duke: Rhymes with Love (Rhymes With Love)
by Elizabeth Boyle
Published by AVON BOOKS
The young ladies from the town of Kempton never marry - not unless they want to bring down the Curse of Kempton on their poor unsuspecting husbands. But Tabitha Timmons soon learns she is to inherit a fortune - if and only if - she gets married to her deceased uncle's god-nephew. Never having given marriage an ounce of consideration, this reluctant bride (and test case) is soon off to London to meet her unknown intended. The rakish Duke of Preston has taken refuge on a stormy night in the same inn as Tabitha, and the two of them share an impetuous kiss. But when they reunite in London, he is shocked to discover that, for all her protests against marriage, this red-haired minx is engaged. She is just as furious to discover the man she thought might be a by-blow is actually a duke. But they cannot deny their attraction for each other, and it is up to Preston to convince Tabitha that he is the perfect bridegroom to end the Kempton curse.
First in a new series, and a new-to-me author. I liked this one a lot. Tabitha is an engaging heroine, although nearly overshadowed in my affections by her dog Mr Muggin's huge personality. Preston is a serious rake and his conflict is fun to watch. Others have commented on some threads relating to his past not being tied up, but I have high hopes for more on them showing up later in the series. I love the rest of his family too: his aunt and uncle who are not much older than him, but possibly more sensible. Henry gets his book next, and I have an idea who he's going to be paired with. I'm looking forward to finding out whether I'm right.
by Sally Quilford
Previously published by Bridges & Knight 'Easy Reads'
Midchester has reached the swinging sixties and it’s close to Bonfire Night. Cara Baker, who works at the local pub, has dreams of being a journalist. With this in mind she interviews handsome Australian star, Guy Sullivan, who is in Midchester on a private visit. When Cara finds a man stabbed to death, she is thrown into what is probably the darkest mystery of Midchester so far. In this novel, we also get a glimpse at the psyche of a murderer.
One of the short-lived Easy Reads series that were going to replace My Weekly pocket novels, although that decision has now been reversed. An excellent premise for this one with events moving backwards and forwards between the 1940s and the 1960s and giving us a flavour of rural life in each decade. Some excellent twists, and I'd like to read more stories set in the same village (of which there are several).
by Kelly Jamieson
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Abandoned or betrayed by everyone she ever loved, Sera Manning’s life spiraled out of control until a near-death experience left her with a mission. Now a DEA agent, her sole focus—and her first undercover assignment—is to take down a drug cartel that’s manufacturing seductive, deadly angel sugar.
To do it, she needs access to Operation Black Abyss to establish a connection between the cartel and the Death Angels outlaw motorcycle gang. Which means she must pose as a couple with another agent who’s already deep undercover.
ATF agent Ryan Thomas desperately needs a female agent to maintain his cover in the gang, but the last thing he wants is a rookie agent jeopardizing his op. Especially one who is a sexy reminder why it’s a bad idea to get involved while on a case.
Living together, surrounded by crime, pretending their sizzling sexual tension is just for show is getting harder by the day. But as the mission comes to a head, the two fiercely independent warriors must decide which fear is worse. Losing their quarry…or losing each other.
There were a lot of aspects of this I liked. Both main characters had pasts that impinged on the romance and the action plots and their work environments and management hassles were very believable, as were the structural heirachy and social heirarchy of the bike gang. There were just two slips, one made by each protagonist, that I really hoped would get picked up on by someone in the gang, but that never happened, nor did the characters allude to getting away with making mistakes, so I can only assume they were both plot-holes rather than deliberate attempts to ramp up the tension.
Cracking the Dating Code
by Kelly Hunter
Published by Mills & Boon
A Crash Course in Flirtation...Poppy West - genius and legendary code-cracker - needs a hideaway. Her borrowed desert island seems perfect - until she discovers the owner is the most dangerously sexy man she has ever laid eyes on...Now she's out of her depth! Sebastian Reyne never intended to teach Poppy all the delightful, enticing mysteries of flirtation. Poppy needs a nice man, not a rogue. A patient man, not one who can't be controlled. But her clueless attempts at cracking the dating code bring out the rescuer in him, the teacher in him, even the gentleman in him. For a while. Until Poppy's skills start to exceed his own...
A sweet and fluffy little story, memorable mainly for having a geek heroine. The subplots didn't really grab me, but it was a fun enough diversion.
Passions of War
by Hilary Green
Published by Severn House Paperbacks Ltd
1914. When Leonora Malham Brown's brother and fiance head to the front, she must remain behind, unable to make use of her nursing experience in the Balkans. She is deeply frustrated, but there is another reason for her disappointment: despite her fondness for her fiance, her heart belongs to dashing Colonel Sasha Malkovic. Their love can never be, for his family have promised him to another, but even while Leonora joins the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, and bravely confronts typhoid outbreaks and Zeppelin bombs, she never gives up hope that they will be reunited.
This suffered slightly for being the middle book of a trilogy, but it was still gripping. The story opens with Leo, Victoria and Tom back in England and Ralph still in Serbia. Tom heads out to rejoin Ralph and the pair get mixed up in the outbreak of war. Escaping in the nick of time they sign up with the same British Army battalion: Ralph as an officer, and Tom initially as a war artist. Meanwhile Leo and Vicky wait anxiously to be sent across the Channel to nurse and hear that their old friend Luke has joined the army in New Zealand and so will also be heading back. Leo's former love Sasha has gone through with his arranged marriage to a sickly young woman and is also at the front.
So, many plot threads, and they all intertwine at various points. A couple of issues get resolved a little too easily, but I have high hopes of their being mirrored by similar trickier situations in book three, or by unexpected consequences cropping up to shock the characters.
I also spent much of the time Ralph and Tom were in the same room wanting to bang their heads together, but they've got a whole final book to actually talk to each other about their feelings. A highly recommended series.