Saturday, May 23, 2015

What I Read in January Part IV . . .

What I Read in January Part IV . . .
Maids of Misfortune (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery #1)Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke--Historical cozy mystery

Annie Fuller, widow, runs a boarding house and supplements her income by posing as a psychic medium providing financial, business and relationship advise from her San Francisco home. She's about to lose her home to the man who helped ruin her husband. When one of her favorite clients, Matthew Voss dies unexpectedly, leaving her $10 and shares in a mining company, Annie is stunned. The police claim suicide due to financial ruin but Annie knows that is far from true. She sets out to discover the truth, with the help of the Voss' lawyer, Nate Dawson. Nate is not thrilled with Annie's unconventional, unladylike behavior, but Annie is determined to do things her way. She has come too far since her husband's death to go back to being meek. She has a chance to save her home, her friends and help her client one last time. The course of her investigation leads her to pose as a maid in the Voss household where she goes up against a snooty ladies' maid Cartier, Mr. Voss' Bible-thumping sister Miss Voss. She finds an unexpected ally in Wong, Matthew's manservant but discovers that all is not right in the household and one of them must have murdered Matthew. Annie is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery with or without Nate's help.

This cozy mystery is quite good. Though there are a lot of standard plot points in this novel, I enjoyed it. I did figure out who the murderer was right away but there were enough red herrings to keep me interested. The period details are largely limited to the role of women but I don't know enough about San Francisco at that time to say much about the description. It's not so easy to tell the story is set in 1879 because the characters sound more modern and the descriptions of San Francisco are limited. It is a very 19th century story though, just not really specific to 1879.There was also a light romance that made the story more enjoyable. Annie and Nate enjoy a typical love/hate relationship common in period pieces. Annie is unconventional and ahead of her time and Nate was brought up with traditional values though his sister apparently isn't so traditional. I liked the banter between Annie and Nate and how she taught him to rethink his values. He did it willingly instead of being the alpha male and demanding Annie stay safe at home, which was a nice change from the typical Victorian novel. The romance has enough spark to satisfy those who enjoy love stories but it limited to kisses only.

I loved Annie. Her character growth seems to have happened already but I liked how she realized she needed to change and how far she's come. I loved how she stuck to her convictions and how she was a loyal friend to Matthew after his death. Her activities as Madame Sybil are really interesting and I admire how she was able to turn her passion into a business though women weren't allowed to be stock brokers or financial advisers.

I hope to read the rest of the series if I can get it. This was a freebie kindle download on Amazon and it did not disappoint.

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