Book Previews, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction

A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Down a Dark River: An Inspector Corravan Mystery (Book 1), by Karen Odden

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. Please help me welcome bestselling author Karen Odden to Austenprose today. Her new Victorian murder mystery, Down a Dark River, released yesterday.

I have been hearing wonderful things about this book for months. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? I am rather partial to detective mysteries. Since it is the first in the series, I will be starting at the beginning of the Scotland Yard detective’s journey.

Inspector Michael Corravan is an interesting character. As a former bare-knuckle boxer he is ready for anything that the streets of 1878 London can throw at him. This mystery has been accurately written to reveal fascinating details about the times. Readers who appreciate beautiful prose and twisty plots with enjoy it.

Karen has generously shared an exclusive excerpt with us. She is on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours this month, so be sure to check out the reviews, interviews, guest posts, and additional excerpts through the list of tour participants at the end of this post. Continue reading “A Preview & Exclusive Excerpt of Down a Dark River: An Inspector Corravan Mystery (Book 1), by Karen Odden”

Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Every Word Unsaid: A Novel, by Kimberly Duffy — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote that “not all those who wander are lost.” That is certainly true for some; for others, they have convinced themselves they are on a mission, all the while searching for a true purpose. It is this concept, as well as the topic of another of Tolkien’s classic lines— “Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens”—that is explored in Kimberly Duffy’s latest historical fiction novel, Every Word Unsaid.

In the America of the late 1890s, Augusta Travers is on a mission to prove to herself, her family, and society’s naysayers that a woman can be an adventurer. “Nothing brought [her] more joy than slipping away.” (Loc 37) With her Kodak camera, she travels around the country, documenting her escapades with photographs and whimsical depictions in the popular column she writes anonymously for a ladies’ magazine. Her readers “expected greater things from Gussie than her own family, who only wanted her to marry well.” (Loc 209) Her elite, social-climbing New York family not only Continue reading “Every Word Unsaid: A Novel, by Kimberly Duffy — A Review”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction

The Curse of Morton Abbey, by Clarissa Harwood — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

What would the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic, The Secret Garden, look like if all the main players were adults? That is what author Clarissa Harwood asked herself and a lush, atmospheric, and romantic historical suspense was born. A book from a new to me author and a set up I could not resist brought early tingles of excitement.

Vaughan Springthorpe finished settling her deceased solicitor father’s affairs and must now face an uncertain future. He trained her to copy and review legal documents and it is her dream to become a solicitor, herself. Facing resistance from her surviving family, because she is a woman and has a disability, she ignores this and takes the first step toward her dream by way of placing an advertisement for employment. A reply comes and she is hired by absentee estate owner, Sir Peter Spencer, to get the estate papers in order so he can sell. Continue reading “The Curse of Morton Abbey, by Clarissa Harwood — A Review”

Book Lists, Editor's Picks, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction, Holiday Reading, Regency Romance

7 Historic Romantic Suspense Novels with a Gothic Twist

As All Hallows Eve approaches on October 31st, tis the season to discover new and recent Gothic fiction in the historical suspense, romance, and mystery genres.

We can thank English writer, art historian, and politician Horace Walpole (1717-1797) for creating the Gothic fiction genre. After having a terrifying nightmare, Walpole was inspired to write The Castle of Otranto. Published in 1764, it combines many of the elements we see in Gothic novels today: an atmospheric isolated estate, a puzzling family mystery, and a heroine in peril from evil forces. Other classic authors of the genre include Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, the Bronte sisters, and Daphne du Maurier. Continue reading “7 Historic Romantic Suspense Novels with a Gothic Twist”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Romance

The Merchant and the Rogue: The Dread Penny Society (Book 3), by Sarah M. Eden—A Review  

From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Thanks to Charles Dickens’ vivid imagination and keen eye for the overlooked, Victorian England’s readers met paupers and rag-sellers, prostitutes, and orphans. Many other authors followed his example in showing the light, the darkness, and everything in between, that are a very real part of our world. John Thornton, Dorothea Brooks, Helen Huntingdon, and more came to life alongside Oliver Twist, each fighting for truth, justice, and hope in a hard world. Sarah M. Eden’s latest in “The Dread Penny Society” series, The Merchant and the Rogue, is set in the city of Dickens: the mad, bustling, glittering, foul, terrible, great streets of 19th century London. Like the Victorian classics, it shines a light on the individuals who are not wealthy or aristocratic, and like the dread-penny novels of the time, it does this with plenty of flair, humor, and mystery.

If laughter truly were the best medicine, Brogan Donnelly would have been the healthiest Irishman in all of England. Jests came as easy to him as breathing, and that was more-or-less all anyone knew about him. He preferred it that way. – Chapter 1, Location 59 

Continue reading “The Merchant and the Rogue: The Dread Penny Society (Book 3), by Sarah M. Eden—A Review  “

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Romance

Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In 1837, a sheltered yet determined 18-year-old became Queen Victoria and ushered in an era of immense transformation. Increased educational and employment opportunities for women and an overall increase in literacy cracked open the previously elite worlds of journalism and literature and scientific invention in exciting new ways. It was a time when a lady bluestocking might finally earn the chance to collaborate with other intellectuals as an admired and respected equal. Master storyteller Jennifer Moore has created a lovely and well-researched representation of this unique era in the latest tale from The Blue Orchid Society series, Inventing Vivian.

During a fateful meeting in a library sanctuary while escaping the unwelcome pressures of a ballroom, science-minded inventor Miss Vivian Kirby had made a pact with four other remarkable young ladies to form the Blue Orchid Society and to achieve their private ambitions with each other’s support and encouragement. Vivian was thrilled by the thought that her dream “was actually achievable. And the difference, she realized, was that she had the support of people like herself.” (237) Continue reading “Inventing Vivian, A Victorian Romance: The Blue Orchid Society (Book 2), by Jennifer Moore — A Review”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Fantasy, Paranormal & Gothic Fiction

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose

Reader, I must confess that I went into this book totally blind. No blurb, no captions, and a mere glance at the cover. This is because I spotted the title and the author, and it was all over. I needed a gender swapped Jane Eyre-Dracula mash up to quench my insatiable curiosity and wonder over such a combo. Some authors might have difficulty pulling off such a feat, but I did not have a doubt in the world that in Mimi Matthews’ capable hands that John Eyre would dazzle.

John Eyre arrives at his new place of employment on a cold, rainy, and foggy night. He barely catches a glimpse of the new Yorkshire countryside or Thornfield Hall. His mind is weighed down by the past and his head aches dreadfully.  He craves the laudanum that he has been using to dull his memories and pain. But it is not long before natural curiosity for his peculiar new charges, his absent employer, and his new surroundings rouse him. Thornfield Hall might be remote, creak with odd noises, and the Yorkshire environs bleak, but John Eyre starts to settle in and feel a modicum of peace. Then Mrs. Rochester arrives.

Mrs. Rochester is changeable, direct, capable, and very much in charge. He senses there is great mystery from this well-traveled world-weary woman. She challenges him and his notions of women, and the world he has barely experienced in his humble circumstances. His very stolidity and sureness Continue reading “John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow, by Mimi Matthews—A Review”

Book Reviews, Historical Romance

The Gentleman and the Thief: Proper Romance Victorian, by Sarah M. Eden—A Review

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M Eden 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

Readers, beware: The Dread Penny Society is back in town. Their mission this time? Justice.

In September 2019, acclaimed Regency author, Sarah M. Eden, published her first book in the “Dread Penny Society” series. Titled The Lady and the Highwayman, this novel is a tongue-in-cheek – albeit romantic – take on the classic highwayman legends. Her latest addition to the series, The Gentleman and the Thief, no longer features a dashing highwayman, yet these new heroes equally hide their true selves amongst the shadows.

“For the poor and infirm, the hopeless and voiceless, we do not relent. We do not forget. We are the Dread Penny Society.” (Location 1582) 

Hollis Darby: Gentleman, man about town, and member of a secret society. Now in his thirties, he is more than satisfied with his work as a writer of children’s fiction. He even finds fulfillment in his other passion — helping to give hope to those living on the streets in his city. What Hollis lacks is a partner in crime, or at least, his brand of it. When he meets the enchanting Miss Newport, he is dazzled by her confidence, music skills, and kindness. Above all, he feels as if they are kindred spirits. Little does he know just how similar they are. Continue reading “The Gentleman and the Thief: Proper Romance Victorian, by Sarah M. Eden—A Review”

Book Reviews, Editor's Picks, Historical Romance

A Rogue of One’s Own: A League of Extraordinary Women (Book 2), by Evie Dunmore — A Review

A Rogue of One's Own by Evie Dunmore 2020From the desk of Pamela Mingle:

From the age of twelve, Lucie Tedbury’s mission has been to improve the lives of women. Twenty years on, a rogue from her past, Tristan Ballentine, interferes with her plan. Opposites attract, after all. Evie Dunmore’s A Rogue of One’s Own, second in The League of Extraordinary Women series, is an exploration of love and the question still being asked today: “Can women have it all?”

In 1880, Lucie has become a leader of the British suffragist movement. Within her circle of Oxford women friends, the fight is against the Married Women’s Property Act, which at that time made women subordinate to their husbands in all matters. Lucie and a cadre of wealthy women investors have purchased a large share of a publishing company in order to advance the suffragist cause and encourage the repeal of the hated MWPA. One day, when Lucie is working in her drab rooms in Oxford (she’s been banished from her family home), she overhears a seduction beneath her window. Continue reading “A Rogue of One’s Own: A League of Extraordinary Women (Book 2), by Evie Dunmore — A Review”