A Spirited Manor – Kate Danley

2f313b1e8127b6859702b567141434f414f4141This is more of a novella – starting with a young widow purchasing a new house to get away from the memories of her dead husband. The house has been on the market for a while, because it’s supposedly haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Naturally, Clara sees the ghost. In trying to find out what happened to her, she visits the house’s former owner, and ends up at his creepy country estate for a séance.

This story has good bones, but it’s over way too fast, and not fleshing it out more is a problem. There’s a romance, which is way too rushed, and the paranormal aspects of the story are covered way too quickly, especially when a big reveal at the end makes your realize how important those details are. I can’t say I’m in a hurry to read more in this series if this is the quality I’m in for.

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The Curiosity Keeper – Sarah E. Ladd

0718011805.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_I picked this one up for free because it was labeled a regency romance, and the plot seemed promising – young man is trying to save his family’s fortune, and encounters a young woman tangled up in the mess that may be able to help him.

It’s not a bad book, but I can’t say I loved it. There is a fair amount of action, but not in a way that I associate with regency romance. And there are some interesting characters, but again, not in a way I associate with a regency romance. I think the label spoiled this book for me on a certain level – I had some expectations it simply couldn’t meet.

Jane and the Genius of the Place – Stephanie Barron

6d766dcc6677d645939536e5a77434f414f4141In this book, Jane is staying at her brother Edward’s estate in Kent (which he has because he was adopted by a wealthy, childless couple – this is real life detail). While there, they go to the races, where the wife of one of the other local landowners is found dead. Mrs. Grey had not been well liked in the neighborhood – she was French, and Napoleon was poised just across the Channel, making plans to invade. Still, Edward is the local magistrate, and is obligated to the investigate. And as we all know from the previous three books in this series, Jane is not a bad investigator herself, so naturally helps.

This ends up being a really interesting commentary on womens’ lives in Regency England, mixed up with the politics of the war, and with a bit of landscape gardening thrown in for good measure. How the murder ends up working into that ends up being very interesting – I will admit I hadn’t figured it out before the reveal.

These books are definitely anachronistic, but fun enough that I don’t mind.

The Rose Rent – Ellis Peters

2b9bf2c836e179e59746e366667434f414f4141The young widow Perle had donated the house where she had lived happily with her husband to the Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. She had no need of it – she was also the heiress to one of the foremost weaving families in Shrewsbury, and could live in her family home, away from her memories. She asked only for a single white rose from a bush in the yard as rent.

It’s been a late year for all plants, but the rose comes ready to bloom just in time for the rent payment, only the young monk in charge of paying the rent is found dead beside the rosebush. It’s no secret that several men would like to marry the young widow (and gain her substantial dowry), and it’s up to Brother Cadfael to figure out which one of these men is the murderer.

This is a surprisingly quick tale, perhaps because it plays out at a truly local level, unlike some of the other stories in this series. It’s a great ending – way more interesting than you would think from the initial set up.

Friday’s Child – Georgette Heyer

5bae9e4a0fb8bdc59672f756c41434f414f4141This books falls straight into the wild noble guy marries naive young woman, she’s totally unprepared for society life and hi-jinks ensue trope of Heyer’s. It’s not one of my favorites. When done well (when the heroine is not too naive), it can be amusing, but in this case, the heroine is a little too naive, and it gets to be a bit much.

Granted, I did like the circle of friends that the Sherringhams are surrounded by – they’re mostly male, and this case, they’re having the worst of the emotional struggles. That was a bit different, and amusing. Probably the reason I was able to finish the book.

Matilda Bone – Karen Cushman

f3cf55b3b4f2c1959707a486777434f414f4141Matilda has been brought up by the manor priest since her father, the lord’s clerk, died. But he’s been called to London, and she’s being left to stay with Peg, the bonesetter. It’s a completely different life than Matilda’s used to, and it takes some getting used to, but she learns to like the new world she’s been thrown into.

I really like Cushman’s historical stories- she’ll focus on the story of a young person, and layer in a lot of other interesting history around them. This book gives you an interesting overview of medieval medicine, as well as the contrast between the church and lay people. It’s a charming story – I read it in one night.

Jane and the Wandering Eye – Stephanie Barron

380c536451d9019597937685977434f414f4141Jane is back in Bath, absolutely not enjoying herself, and is more than happy to accept a commission from Lord Harold Trowbridge to keep an eye on his niece, the Lady Desdemona. At a party given by Mona’s grandmother, a shocking murder occurs, drawing Jane into the world of the Bath theatre.

Yes, this is Jane Austen solving mysteries. And it’s completely anachronistic. (At least in this book, her family starts commenting that she’s spending a bit too much time in some rather unladylike pursuits.) But it’s all good fun, and other than Jane not really being Jane, the author layers in a lot of other interesting historical flavor.