Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Am China by Xiaolu Guo

Iona is drifting through the world.  She left Scotland to get an education and then stayed in London after getting her degree in Chinese history.  She makes a living working at home translating Chinese documents, usually long and boring business works.  She sees no friends and her love life consists of momentary assignations with men she meets in bars and has no interest in the next day.

Into this lonely world is dropped an assignment that starts to wake Iona up.  She is given a mishmash of documents and asked to translate them by a publisher.  The documents are all mixed together.  There are journal entries, letters, song fragments.  There are two authors. 

As Iona starts to work her way through the documents she finds that they portray the lives and love of two Chinese young people.  Jian is a young man who was raised in a wealthy, influential family but with little love.  He directs his anger into his music and becomes a famous punk rocker in China, his concerts filled with other disillusioned youth.  Mu is raised in the rural countryside and her focus is her love of Jian and their young son.  She is fearful of Jian's involvement with politics and fears that he will throw away their lives by getting noticed by the government. 

Jian does just that, using his concerts to advance his political visions.  He is taken to prison then forced out of the country.  He is moved from place to place as he attempts to get political asylum.  He tries to write to Mu and keep their relationship but he doesn't know if she gets his letters.  Mu also changes and moves between school, back home, off to America as a poet who is part of a band, and then another reincarnation as a businesswoman in London. 

Iona becomes entranced with the pair's story, even though validating any of it is very difficult due to the Chinese government's attempts to write the pair out of history.  As she documents the couple's attempt to find themselves and make a difference, she starts to find herself also. 

Xiaolu Guo was named one of Granta's  Best Young British Novelists in 2013, after moving to London in 2002.  Her novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and 20 Fragments Of  Ravenous Youth was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.  Her work deals with the alienation and disconnects that modern life can deal its occupants, and their search for love as a way to connect to the world.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, August 28, 2014

With the Labor Day weekend approaching, it's time to say goodbye to summer, although here in NC it will be warm for at least another month or so.  Still, summer is waning and fall is approaching with its glorious colors and refreshing weather.  As I evaluate the summer, I've faced a truth that I need to get rid of some of the more than 7000 books currently sharing this house with me. While I've read 94 books so far this year, there is no physical way I'll ever be able to read all the books that are here, weighing down my shelves.   I've started weeding out books, taking them to donation centers, giving them to friends and saying goodbye.  Some are volumes I thought I might reread but realize I'll probably never get to.  Some, unfortunately, are review books I accepted years ago that have languished on my shelves.  Perhaps someone else will find them and love them as they are meant to be loved. 

I'm concentrating on the newer books here waiting on review and the books I've bought because I wanted to read them.  Here's what's come through the door lately:

1.  The Sharp Hook Of Love, Sherry Jones, historical fiction, sent for book tour
2.  The Mathematician's Shiva, Stuart Rojstaczer, literary fiction, sent by publisher
3.  Sister Eve, Private Eye, Lynne Hinton, mystery, sent by publisher
4.  The Flight Of Gemma Hardy, Margot Livesey, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
5.  Poisoned, Steve Shukis, true crime, sent by friend
6.  Bitter Greens, Kate Forsyth, fantasy, sent by friend
7.  We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8.  Certainty, Victor Bevine, literary fiction, sent for book tour
9.  The Prize, Daniel Yergin, nonfiction, sent by publisher
10.  Jaya Nepal!, Martin David Hughes, literary fiction, sent by publisher
11.  The Secret Place, Tana French, mystery, sent by publisher
12.  The Hidden Ones, Nancy Madore, fantasy, sent by author
13.  Power Of Gods, Nancy Madore, fantasy, sent by author
14.  Masquerade, Nancy Madore, fantasy, sent by author

Here's what I'm reading now:

1.  Advent Of A Mystery, mystery, Kindle
2.  I Am China, Xiaolu Guo, paperback
3.  The Steady Running Of The Hour, Justin Go, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  Red 1-2-3, John Katenback, hardback
8.  The Weight Of Blood, Laura McHugh,  paperback
9.  The Secret Place, Tana French, hardback

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh

Morgravia and it's ruler, Queen Florentyna, are in peril.  A demon, Cyricus, has been entrapped in the Void for many centuries.  But demons are cunning and one fueled by revenge can never be considered defeated while life remains.

Now Cyricus has broken free of the Void and he is planning to destroy all those who sent him there.  That includes all of the kingdom Morgravia, it's ruler, and all its allies.  Who can stand against such a powerful foe?

Those that sent Cyricus into the void have always known he might return and have made their plans.  A Triad of powerful individuals are the only hope the world has.  The Triad is made of three men who have never met each other, yet whose lives are entwined from their first breath.  Each has been created with skills will be necessary in the fight against the demon, although none have heard about the demon who threatens the entire world and their part in the fight.

Gabriel lives in Paris, a psychologist who can build worlds with his mind.  Cassien is a soldier above all else; an assassin raised by a Brotherhood dedicated to saving the land.  Hamelyn, the youngest, is in some ways the strongest.  He sees the connections and provides the links between the individuals who must work together to save the world.  Queen Florenyna and the neighboring monarch, King Tamas, join with the triad to combat the evil that seeks to destroy all it encounters.

Fiona McIntosh has written a stunning fantasy novel.  The world building and characterizations are superb, as is the plotting.  The pacing starts slowly, then rushes to a magnificent climax.  The characters and readers discover the secrets hidden in this world together as the story unfolds.  Those readers who have not encountered McIntosh before will turn the last page and then immediately look for more of her work.  This book is recommended for fantasy lovers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is Kathleen Flinn's memoir of growing up in a large family in Michigan.  There were five children and not much money but there was always love, fun and family.  And food.  When their parents didn't have money to buy the children presents, they devised a novel treat.  On your birthday, you got to pick the menu for breakfast, lunch and supper.  In a family that revered food as the Flinn family did, this was a big deal.

Family was always present.  In today's society, with families far-flung, many of us don't get to know the solace of having grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins near-by.  These close-knit families provided a support system that insured that a child left out of playgroups at school was always surrounded by someone who treasured them.   There was always room in crowded houses to take in a cousin that was orphaned or needed a place to live for a few months. 

Flinn knows the love stories of all the grandparents and of her parents.  She tells these lovingly, letting the reader see how strong marriages made burdens easier to bear.  There were less than stellar branches on the family tree also, and Flinn tells their stories and how they impacted others in the family such as children. 

Money was often short.  Hand-me-downs and thrift store purchases made up the children's wardrobes and they were teased at school.  There were no fancy toys to play with, but there was always love.  The children grew up knowing how to work and how to get what you wanted in life by working for it.

Above all, there was food.  The family had large gardens, and picked the fruits and berries surrounding them.  The men hunted and the family fished on vacations.  After each chapter, there is a family recipe with the story behind it and cooking tips.  No one went hungry, and the food was cooked from scratch.  One of the funniest stories was about the time the women picked out TV dinners as a treat, and their reaction when the dinners were complete and it was time to eat them.

Kathleen Flinn's writing has been featured in many venues, including Elle, People, Bon Appetit, The Wall Street Journal, PBS, The Christian Monitor and CBS Morning News.  Her book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, was a 2012 Book of the Year by the American Society of Journalists and Authors.  In this memoir, she lets the reader into a life enriched by family, fun and food.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs and those interested in cooking. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce

David Barwise is a college student on summer vacation in England in 1976.  He decides rather than going home and spending the summer with his parents, he will go to the small coastal town of Skegness and find a job. Money and independence are prime motivators, but there is also the fact that he has found a picture of his birth father in the town.  The topic of his father was always forbidden so he hopes to find out something about him. 

David manages to get hired as an employee at one of the resorts.  This isn't a resort with glitz and glamour; instead it is the kind of resort Americans used to find in the Catskills; a place where a family could go for a week with activities planned like Most Glamorous Grandmother, bingo and treasure hunts for the kids.  The kind of place with corny shows with second-rate magicians, dancers who aren't quite first-rate and singers who specialize in older songs.

David works hard and seems to be well-liked by the staff.  He enjoys the place at least at first before the strange events start to take place.  Wherever he goes, he occasionally sees two figures that strike a chill in his heart.  The figures are a man and small son, with the man wearing a blue suit.  They look at David with eyes of clear glass and disappear as he blinks.  Is he really seeing something or is he imagining it?

Adding to his stress are the situations he finds himself drawn into.  There are National Front devotees among the employees and they try to draw David into their political agenda of hate for refugees and anyone not 'real English'.  He gets drawn into the middle of an abusive marriage as he is attracted to the wife, Terri, and as the husband, Colin, takes an interest in him, perhaps because he suspects there is something going on between David and Terri.  When Terri disappears and the police arrive, the stress mounts until David realizes he must solve the mysteries that surround him.

Graham Joyce has quietly been making a name for himself for the past few years.  An English writer, his work is gaining fame and popularity elsewhere with authors such as Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Jonathan Lethem counted among his fans. He walks a line between the genres of fantasy and mystery, drawing the reader along on his path. This book is recommended for fantasy and horror readers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

Maggie has a good life.  She is a psychologist with a thriving practice and a happy marriage to her Indian husband, Sudhir, a mathematics professor at a small college.  She is distant from her birth family but has a wide circle of friends.

Lakshmi is an Indian immigrant, a woman who came to America with her Indian husband in an arranged marriage.  She expected love to slowly grow but six years have passed and they are still basically strangers.  When she can no longer bear the loneliness and solitude of her life, she tries to commit suicide and is hospitalized.  Her case is assigned to Maggie.

Maggie sees a spark in Lakshmi and flashes of intelligence and perseverance and she quickly feels a bond with her.  Both are married to Indian men and both lost their mothers as young women.  Maggie treats her for the short hospital stay and then exerts her medical authority to get Lakshmi into her private practice when her husband would ignore her issues.  Maggie offers to treat Lakshmi for free, which she knows is not standard practice but perhaps necessary to get past the husband's disapproval.

As the weeks and months go by, the women become friends.  Maggie and Sudhir help Lakshmi become independent and start a business on her own.  But each woman is hiding a secret and as they learn each other's most private thoughts and actions, the bond creates the opportunity for betrayal. 

Thrity Umrigar has written a novel that explores the themes of friendship, devotion and betrayal.  What do we need in a marriage or a friendship?  Are there actions that can't be forgiven, that cross the line of allowable mistakes?  Readers will end the novel with much to think about as they review their own lives in the light of Maggie and Lakshmi's relationships.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Bully Of Order by Brian Hart

Brian Hart has written a novel about life in the Pacific Northwest as it is settled by Americans moving ever westward.  But this is not the west of Bonanza.  This is the west of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, of the west shown on the popular TV show, Hell On Wheels.  This is a west where life is cheap and death comes at the drop of a hat.

The Ellstrom brothers have come to make their fortune.  The town where they settle is built on lumber and the mill that planes the boards.  They also try farming, logging and even a trip to Alaska.  Each of the two brothers has a son and Jacob has a wife willing to live under the primitive conditions found there.  Life is hard and brutality reigns.  Those who are strongest and willing to take what they want gain the riches to be found.

A sudden act of violence and a dark family secret tears the Ellstrom family apart.  One son falls in love with the daughter of the mill's owner, and he is not about to have his child link up with a poor man.  The struggle over the woman leads to disastrous consequences and fuels the novel's action.

Hart has written a searing indictment of what it really meant to settle uncivilized areas and how the Northwest was really created.  It is a tale of violence and random kindnesses, of men and women fighting against the environment and often failing to connect with each other as the battle wore them out.  It is a stunning work and readers won't soon forget it.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, August 17, 2014

It's hard to believe summer vacation is over.  My daughter has started back to school and somehow she is a junior this year, unbelievable.  I was feeling lonely and deserted when a big box of review books showed up on the doorstep and that always makes me feel better.  School time is back to schedules but it also frees up more reading time and that is always a good thing.  Here's the most recent books I've added:

1.  The First Mrs. Rochester And Her Husband, M.C. Smith, literary fiction, sent by author
2.  A Dancer In The Dust, Thomas H. Cook, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
3.  Night Film, Marisha Pessl, mystery, sent by Curled Up With a Good Book
4.  That Night, Chevy Stevens, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
5.  Seven For A Secret, Lyndsay Faye, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
6.  American Woman, Robert Pobi, mystery, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
7.  Strange Country, Deborah Coates, fantasy, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
8.  The Girls At The Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine, literary fiction sent by Curled Up
9.  That Summer, Lauren Willig, literary fiction, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
10.  We Are Called To Rise, Laura McBride, literary fiction, sent by Curled Up With A Good Book
11.  The Color Of Fire, Ann Rinaldi, historical fiction, sent by a friend
12.  This Is The Water, Yannick Murphy, mystery, sent by a friend
13.  The Map Thief, Michael Blanding, nonfiction, sent by a friend
14.  Island Of Wings, Karin Altenberg, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
15.  The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman, literary fiction, Paperbackswap
16.  The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty, literary fiction, picked up at bring one, leave one bookshelf
17.  One Of Us, Tawni O'Dell, literary fiction, sent by publisher

Here's what I'm currently reading:

1.  Advent Of A Mystery, mystery, Kindle
2.  The Story House, Thrity Umigar paperback
3.  Blind Eye, Stuart MacBride, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Ghost In The Electric Blue Suit, Graham Joyce, paperback
8.  The Weight Of Blood, Laura McHugh,  paperback
9.  The Scrivner's Tale, Fiona McIntosh, paperback

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver

Another serial killer is targeting New York City.  He kidnaps his victims, takes them underground into sub-basements and tunnels, then kills them by tattooing them not with ink but with various poisons. The tattoos, which are a series of numeric words,  seem to be sending a message to whomever is bright enough to decipher it.   Lincoln Rhyme, the quadriplegic forensic scientist who consults with the New York Police, knows as soon as he hears about the first victim that this is a case only he and his team can solve.

The team consists of Rhyme, Amelia Sachs who is a policewoman and Lincoln's lover, Ron Pulaski who is the newest member of the team, and various other individuals who are at the top of their fields.  One thing the team discovers early on is that the killer has stolen a copy of the chapter in a true crime book that outlines Lincoln's first famous case; that of The Bone Collector.  That was the case that pulled him out of the despair he felt after his accident left him disabled, and that brought him and Amelia together.  Is the killer studying that case in order to understand how Rhyme works and what makes him the best investigator in the city? 

As the incidents mount and the kill total climbs, the team races to stop the killer before he can finish his plan.  They are able to stop some of his attacks by figuring out where he will strike next.  The stakes are raised as the killer starts to target the individuals on the team.  Now they must watch their own backs as they try to move forward in the investigation.  As in most Deaver novels, there are plenty of twists and turns, enough to keep the reader off-balance.  The killer is a chilling individual and a look into his mind makes the most hardy reader shiver.  The book ends with a satisfactory conclusion and everything is explained in a way that makes it all seem obvious.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Flesh House by Stuart MacBride

Eight years ago, a serial killer made Aberdeen a terrified city.  He kidnapped couples from their houses, leaving behind copious amounts of blood, then took the couples to another location where he killed them and butchered the bodies.  'The Flesher' was captured and put in jail, only to be released eight years later on a legal technicality.

Now, butchered bodies are showing up again, and the human flesh has made it's way into the human food chain as human remains are found in a butcher shop.  The men who found The Flesher the first time aren't all available; some have retired or been taken off the force for illness.   This time, DS Logan McRae is put on the case along with DI Insch, who was one of the prime investigators last time around.  He is convinced the man they caught and put in jail eight years ago is the same killer this time around, and is determined to catch him and put him back in jail.  As the investigation veers into a personal vendetta against the police, they are given even more of a motive to catch the killer and end the mayhem.

This is the fourth DS Logan McRae novel and fans of Stuart MacBride will rejoice in another case that features him.  As always, the action is non-stop.  It is a great police procedural, showing the ins and outs of the investigation, the hardship of the police career, and the everyday trials and tribulations a policeman has.  McRae has that spark of investigative genius that allows him to see through the routine to the solution, and the ability to do the hard work that breaks crime mysteries.  This book is recommended for mystery lovers.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

Marcus Goldman is this year's celeb author.  His first book was a meteor, soaring to the top of the bestseller list and bringing him fame and fortune.  But now it's a year later and the words aren't flowing; in fact, he has a huge case of writer's block and his agent and publisher aren't happy.  He turns, as he as his entire adult life, to his mentor and best friend, the renowned author Harry Quebert.

Harry picked out Marcus in college when Marcus was his favorite author and mentored him through the writing of his novel.  Harry's first novel had propelled him to the heights of literary success where he stayed.  A kind, generous man, Marcus has always wondered why Harry didn't have a family, a lover, or many friends.  He finds out when a body is found buried in Harry's yard and Harry is accused of the murder thirty years before of his lover, Nola Kellergan.  Even worse, Nola was only fifteen years old when she was killed.

Harry admits to the affair but denies having killed her.  Marcus is repulsed, but determined to be there for his mentor, as Harry has always been there for him.  He decides to investigate the murder himself since he feels that the police have stopped looking once they decide that Harry has done it.  As Marcus starts to talk to people in town, it becomes obvious that his is not a popular move.  Everyone is sure that Harry did it, and he is now a pariah.  Marcus starts to find notes telling him to get out of town and they make him even more determined to find out the truth about what happened that night thirty years before.

Joel Dicker has written an engaging mystery that is a real page-turner.  The novel won several prestigious French literary awards and was a runaway best seller.  Readers will have to examine their own thoughts about love and fame, and whether a relationship can exist between two people divided by age.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

France On The Brink by Jonathan Fenby

Jonathan Fenby has covered France and its government and economy for fifty years.  When the first edition of this book was released in 2000, it was a New York Times Book Of The Year.  This second edition, written fourteen years later, updates the original book and looks at the current state of France.

Like many countries, France is struggling in the modern world with the globalization of economies.  The number of individuals making their living on farms has decreased dramatically, and with that comes the struggle of villages and small towns.  There are less manufacturing jobs, and one quarter of those employed work in government jobs.  Unemployment is high and seems intractable.  The government has given benefits such as the thirty-five hour workweek and then struggles to deal with the fallout of such policies as money to pay for them becomes scarcer.

The political landscape seems full of politicians who promise change and hope but then cannot deliver.  Power moves from the conservative to the liberal but neither seems able to make a difference that the population can embrace.  Fenby goes into great detail about the power struggles for the last fifteen years and the Presidents such as Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande.  Each is elected to great fanfare and then within months their approval ratings start to slip until they are defeated by the next politician to promise solutions.

Readers interested in France will find much of interest in this work.  Fenby talks about the rise of ultra-right which bases its platform on anti-immigration policies as well as the food France is known for and the scandals that seem to be everyday fare.  He covers the war years and France's treatment of the Jews in that time period.  He talks about how the national symbols of France seem to be disappearing as it tries to reinvent itself to remain viable in the modern economy.  In his long career covering France, Fenby worked as the bureau chief in France for the Economist and Reuters.  He is married to a Frenchwoman and was made a Chevalier of the French Order Of Merit in 1990.  This book is recommended for history readers and those interested in the world around them.

You can read more about the book and others' reactions here

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Booksie's Shelves, August 5, 2014

How is it August already?  One of my reading goals for the year is to reread the Game Of Thrones series and I haven't even started yet?  Then there was the reread/new read of Stephen Donaldson's epic series with thirteen books, catching up on all those weighty Elizabeth George mysteries, and....

Recently, I've been snowbound in the mountains at a prince's party to pick a bride, growing up in a planned neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, in Aberdeen, Scotland fighting crime and visiting the art world as an artist who can't get respect.  Currently, I'm reading about the cultural, economic and social aspects of France, in the midst of a literary scandal when a great author is accused of murdering his underage lover, in the forests of a Japanese prison camp in World War II and back in Aberdeen as I continue to devour anything Stuart MacBride has written. 

Here's the new books that have arrived:

1.  The Selection, Kiera Cass, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
2.  Snow And Shadow, Dorothy Tse, anthology, sent by publisher
3.  Black Ice, Susan Krinard, fantasy, sent by publisher
4.  The Other Typist, Suzanne Rindell, literary fiction, sent from Paperbackswap
5.  Death By Hitchcock, Elissa Grodin, mystery, sent by publisher
6.  The Story Hour, Thrity Umirigar literary fiction, sent for book tour
7.  Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, Kathleen Flinn, memoir, sent for book tour
8.  Solsbury Hill, Susan Wyler, literary fiction, sent by friend
9.  No Man's Nightingale, Ruth Rendell, mystery, sent from Paperbackswap
10.  The Objects Of Her Affection, Sonya Cobb, mystery, sent by publisher
11.  The Devil's Quota, Tom Avitabile, mystery, sent by publisher
12.  The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton, historical fiction, sent by publisher
13.  In The Shadow Of The Banyan, Vaddey Ratner, from bring one, take one shelf at gym
14.  The Darkest Hour, Tony Schumacher, mystery, sent by publisher
15.  The Death Of Santini, Pat Conroy, memoir, Goodwill store

Here's the list of what I'm currently reading:

1.  Advent Of A Mystery, mystery, Kindle
2.  France On The Brink, Jonathan Fenby, paperback
3.  Flesh House, Stuart MacBride, hardback
4.  The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner, Kindle Fire
5.  The Fever, Megan Abbott, hardback
6.  New York, Edward Rutherfurd, paperback
7.  The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker, paperback
8.  The Narrow Road To The Deep North, Richard Flanagan, paperback
9.  The Scrivner's Tale, Fiona McIntosh, paperback

Happy Reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Adored A Lord by Katharine Ashe

Ravenna Caulfield has had an unconventional life.  Living in an orphanage as a small child with her two sisters, all three were adopted by a rural pastor.  Although most women in 1800's England lead a structured, restrictive life, Ravenna could not do that.  She spent her time roaming out of doors, accompanied by her best friend, her dog.  Along the way, she learned how to take care of animals and then humans from those around her.  At seventeen, she hires herself out to a nobleman to take care of his dogs.

Things are fine in her life until one of her sisters married a duke.  The lord she worked for said he could not employ the sister of a duchess as a servant, and her sister wants her to start living in the new world she has attained.  When a young prince throws a house party in the mountains in Europe in order to find a wife, Ravenna is invited and accompanied by her employer.  She has no interest in living among royalty and does not fit in.

She escapes to the stables where she feels comfortable but even that refuge is denied her when she is followed by Lord Vitor Courtenay, brother to both the prince and an English Lord.  He gives Ravenna he first kiss; she responds by fighting him off and fleeing.  Thus begins a game of invitation and retreat, of drawing closer and springing apart.

The stakes are increased when one of the house party is found murdered.  Due to the party being snowbound, there is no competent law to investigate and Vitor and Ravenna are determined to solve the mystery.  Can they solve it before more victims are killed?  Will they resist the attraction between them or leap the bounds of class to be together?

Readers of romantic fiction will become fast fans of Katharine Caulfield.  Her characters are well-drawn and the pace is fast enough to draw the reader along.  The romantic scenes are compelling and the reader develops an interest in Ravenna and what will become of her.  This book is recommended for readers of historical romantic fiction.