Clash of Eagles – Alan Smale

f701d2c49481550596d564f6d67434f414f4141This was an interesting concept – a Roman Empire that never fell to the northern tribes, who eventually subjugated the Vikings, and was therefore able to use their ships to go to the New World in the 13th century. They send an army, but once there, it’s obliterated by the native population, leaving only the Praetor alive. He eventually throws in with the native Cahokian people against their Iroqua enemies.

The Cahokians do have one piece of technology that’s really cool, pretty much instantly earning them Marcellinus’ respect. I think my quibble with the story is that the Romans should have had some better technology available to them – they don’t seem very far advanced beyond what they had in the time that they fell in our real world.

Still, it’s an enjoyable story, and I’m interested to see where he takes it from here.

In the Market for Murder – T. E. Kinsey

5e869c8ddc08e66596c78787377434f414f4141I had to go find my review for the first book in this series, and I find I have the same complaint about this book as I had in the last. Lady Hardcastle and her maid Flo have retired to the English countryside after a life of adventure, and I’m just not getting enough stories of the adventure.

After the previous book, the police have noted the pairs’ detective skills, so when a local farmer who everyone hated turns up dead, they’re enlisted to help. After all, it’s pretty hard to narrow down the suspects when absolutely no one liked the man, including his own family. I will admit, I admired how a theft at the local rugby club ended up being connected. And Flo did get to work a few of her connections from their prior life, but I want more. This is definitely a series I’ll only continue if I can read it for free.

The Heretic’s Apprentice – Ellis Peters

9ef31c048f16561596749706e77434f414f4141Our story begins when a young man named Elave returns from the Holy Land, bringing back the body of his master, William of Lythwood. They’d left on pilgrimage a number of years ago. Elave had been the clerk for the Lythwood family, and while they’re sad that William is gone, they’re happy to see Elave again.

The family has a foster daughter, Fortunata, who has grown up in the time that William and Elave has been gone. William has sent home a beautiful box to be her dowry.

It’s hard to go into more detail about the story – it’s very detail specific, and all the details are important. (Including why the word heretic is in the title – that’s a tldr in the making.) What I will say is that the reason for the murder is actually set up quite early, and though I noted it as a detail, its importance escaped me. So I had a really good aha moment about who the murder was, and exactly why, barely ahead of the action of the book, even though it had been there to see the whole time. That completely earns my respect – great mystery writing!

The Confession of Brother Haluin – Ellis Peters

057d75cfdc65b27597a72705a41434f414f4141It’s winter in Shrewsbury, and a particularly bad storm puts a hole in the roof of the Abbey. While the brothers are up fixing it, Brother Haluin falls from the roof. His injuries are grave, and they do not expect him to live. Because of this, he makes a confession that Brother Cadfael is there to hear. And then, he lives.

Though his legs were shattered, and he can only walk on crutches, Haluin pledges to make a pilgrimage to the grave of a girl that he wronged before he took his vows, and Cadfael goes with him, to help him along the way. You really need to read the book to get the full sense of the transgression that Haluin is trying to atone for, and exactly how many things on his pilgrimage go so incredibly right to help him do it. It’s a different book than many of the others in this series. There is a murder, but it’s almost a side action. It’s really a story of following your heart when it tells you must do something.

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.

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.