Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I Read in July Part III

What I Read in July Part III . . .

Snobbery With Violence  (An Edwardian Murder Mystery #1)Snobbery With Violence by Marion Chesney-- Historical cozy mystery

Captain Harry Cathcart returned from the Boer War cynical and brooding. He's not socially acceptable to his peers, except for when they need him to do a little snooping for them. Lady Rose Summer is the daughter of an Earl but her sympathies are all middle class. She's notorious for consorting with suffargettes!! Her parents want her married ASAP and Rose seems to have settled on Sir Geoffrey Blandon. Geoffrey seems to be taking too long to come up to scratch so the Earl of Haadshire hires Harry to determine Geoffrey's intentions. With Rose's reputation in tatters, the Earl and Countess must do what they can to find Rose a suitable husband. She is packed off to a country house party at the home of the Marquess of Hadley accompanied by her unconventional maid. When one of the guests dies unexpectedly and Scotland Yard wants to investigate a suspected murder, the Marquess hires Harry to cover up the scandal. Harry's conscience can not allow him to hide a murder and neither can Rose's. She takes it upon herself to investigate on her own, clashing with Harry at every turn. Was it murder or simply an accident? Will the mystery be solved before someone else gets hurt?

This is a cute cozy mystery set in a very Downton Abbey world. If Lady Sybil is your favorite Crawley sister, you will love Lady Rose. She's less real than Sybil though, being rebellious more for the sake of having something to do than because she's a good person. She's very naive and comes across as immature at times. She's also quite spoiled and never truly becomes a sympathetic character, but I liked her anyway. Harry is a brooding sort. He's rude to Rose and doesn't understand her. He's not very likeable but I think he will unbend as time goes on. The other characters are largely flat but represent the Edwardian types very well.

The plot is really good. It kept me guessing. I did figure out whodunnit though. The writing style is pretty simple. The reading level is YA but the story is for adults only! The Edwardians were as crazy as their grandparents in the Regeency era. The story isn't as funny as Chesney's Regencies and drags on a little too long. I enjoyed this story quite a lot though and stayed up late reading it. I plan to read the rest of the series.

Content spoilers:
talk of seduction
Husbands not sleeping with their wives
bed hopping during a house party (sleeping around)
other mentions of the seedier side of Edwardian life

Hasty Death (An Edwardian Murder Mystery #2)Hasty Death by Marion Chesney-- Historical cozy mystery

Lady Rose is bored with her society life. Her parents want to pack her off to India but luckily for Rose, Henry Cathcart suggests she be allowed to go out to work as she wishes. He arranges everything for Rose and Daisy to become typists for a merchant baker. Rose dislikes the make work she's given and Daisy misses the camaraderie and freedom of the theater. The gloominess of winter and difficulty of living on a working woman's wages get to them. One mistake leads to a return to Lord Hadshire's home and the same old society life. Then Rose learns of Freddy Pomfret's death and suspects murder. She's excited to investigate with Harry and Kerridge. Daisy tags along to keep Rose out of trouble and in hopes of seeing Becket again. If only my lady and the Captain would get married. She could be with her Becket and the Captain would be responsible for Rose.

This book wasn't as good as the first. The mystery doesn't start until 2/3 way through and it didn't grip me like the first mystery did. It was difficult to solve but I had a hunch who did it and what it had to do with. I was close. As in the first book Ms. Chesney doesn't shy away from the gritty details of Edwardian life. I learned something new about how working girls lived and what kinds of work they did in the early 1900s. It also contains some information on the Boer War and the atrocities committed by the British. The book also contains a lot about fashion but not an excessive amount.

My big problem with this story is Rose. Unlike her namesake from Titanic, she just wants to be a rebel because she's bored and feels her parents don't love her. The more scrapes she gets in the more attention they pay to her. This Rose is slightly more realistic than Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey. She is very much a product of her environment and upbringing, which means she's snobby, haughty and a spoiled brat. She does know how to speak to people to get information, unlike Harry who is too blunt. I liked Daisy much better. She's had a hard life and is wise to the ways of the world. I don't see why she insists on following Rose except she doesn't really have a lot of choice but I am sure Harry and/or Becket would find her a new job.

Harry isn't very likable either. He's gruff and constantly getting on Rose's bad side. He's rude to her at times yet misses her when she's not around. I don't get why Rose's parents are always asking him for help and why he wants to help. He fixes things in ways I wouldn't at times. I didn't like how he dealt with one big problem. He could have found a legal loophole.

The secondary characters are very colorful. I really liked the vegetarian society and the kooky character who heads it. The other suspects are a bit more stereotypical, especially the woman, but they added to the Edwardian feeling of the book. I disliked Harry's secretary and her mother. They were crazy and I expected that plot to go in a different direction. The direction it did go in was random and unnecessary. Becket is very mysterious and fun. I see why Daisy likes him. I like him better than his master, though they probably have more in common than they realized.

Sick of ShadowsSick of Shadows by Marion Chesney ---- Historical cozy mystery

Lady Rose Summer is engaged to Captain Harry Cathcart, or so she tells her parents and society. It's only a ruse to keep the Hadshires from sending Rose to India. Society is beginning to gossip because Harry spends most of his time working. Rose is humiliated and considers a marriage of convenience to Sir Peter Percey, her frequent escort. She is bored with her life and longs to help someone. She befriends Dolly Tremaine, a country rector's daughter who is new in town. Poor Dolly is having a difficult season: she's beautiful but not bright and doesn't know how to go on in society, then she ends up dead, floating in a boat like the Lady of Shalott. Rose is the one to find the body and instantly becomes a media darling and also the target of a crazed assassin. Harry will do anything to keep Rose safe but Rose chafes at the restrictions he places on her movements. She's determined to solve the mystery on her own.

This story is better than the last but not as good as the first. I guessed who murdered Dolly right away. I was pretty close to being right but second guessed myself as the plot moved on. I didn't like how the author stepped out of the story to explain historical background information. I also didn't like the relationship between Rose and Harry. There were too many stupid misunderstandings. There are some modern Americanisms that creep in - can we get a "What is a weekend?"

I liked Rose a bit better in this story. We get inside her head a bit more. She can still be a you know what at times, but she's getting better. Harry is still brooding but we get a bit more of his motivation. I like knowing characters' feelings. The character I liked best was Aisla. She provides the comic relief. I like her better than Rose because she's smart and capable. The villains are bumbling fools.

I look forward to the next book in the series.

Graphic/Objectionable Content :
violence (more graphic than the previous two books)
homosexuality (Homosexual love scene - no graphic content per se but one of the men suggests something kinky. It's handled with humor and is part of the plot).

Our Lady of PainOur Lady of Pain by Marion Chesney-- Historical cozy mystery

Lady Rose Summer's engagement to Captain Harry Cathcart is back on, but as usual he's too busy working to squire Rose around to various social events. His latest client is a French high-flyer, Dolores Duval, who has been receiving threatening notes. Harry likes Dolores' easy charm but Rose is jealous. How dare her fiance consort with that tart?! Their engagement is one of convenience but still... he's making Rose a laughingstock. Rose has the audacity to confront Dolores and threaten her in front of everyone. The next time Rose sees Dolores, she's lying dead and Rose is the chief suspect. Harry knows Rose didn't do it and he's determined to keep her out of the press and away from crazed murderers. Will she comply this time? Actually, she does want peace and quiet and she seems to find what she longs for in a most suitable suitor but he doesn't rouse her passions the way Harry does. Meanwhile, Daisy and Becket want to get married. They're making plans for their future but will things work out as planned if Rose doesn't marry Harry?

I really couldn't get into this story. The mystery starts and stops and starts again too often. It's too random and disjointed to really follow and I frankly didn't care. I was more interested in the romantic plots. I didn't like Daisy's story. It's too cliched and unrealistic. I wanted more of Rose and Harry. Their plot takes too long to wrap up and it's very hastily sketched out before the story draws to a close. It left me unsatisfied. I liked that Rose showed some character growth finally. She still doesn't know what she wants but she's getting there. Even Lord and Lady Hadshire had moments when they made me like them, but mainly they're as awful as ever. Daisy annoyed me a lot and I didn't like the way she acted. There are a few new characters to add comic relief but they also made me angry and sad for Rose.

I enjoyed this series even though it's not great literature. If you're looking for some good beach books this summer while you wait for the next season of Downton Abbey (if there was such a thing... as far as I am concerned, it all ended with a jolly cricket match!), I suggest picking up this series. If you like Marion Chesney's Regency and Edwardian romances you might like these too, though her Regencies are much better.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.