Sixteen-year-old Annis Whitworth just found out that her father is dead and all his money is missing. With the social season in London looming, Annis and her aunt are on the verge of the horror of all horrors: having to find jobs. When Annis finds out her father was a spy, she decides to follow in his footsteps. But the spymasters are not so sure.
After learning she can sew glamours, magical disguises, Annis moves to a small town and starts her double life as Madame Martine, seamstress extraordinaire. She must succeed in her new role if she is ever to find out who killed her father—and earn aplace as a spy herself.
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore is a fun Regency-era tale of a girl discovering who she truly is as she seeks her place in life. Annis finds out there is far more going on around her than she ever imagined, and she has talents she never suspected. This is a light, enjoyable read, with quirky characters and a fantastic setting.
Kelly Jones is the author of Murder, Magic, and What We Wore.
(Galley provided by Knopf via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
The Earl of Wrexford isn’t your average aristocrat: for starters, he has a keen scientific mind and an interest in chemistry. Secondly, he has no time for fools and doesn’t care what the rest of society thinks of him. When Reverend Holworthy publicly condemns him for his wickedness, he retaliates, and the war of words escalates, and cartoonist A.J. Quill uses the feud as fodder, drawing even more attention. Then the reverend is found dead, with chemical burns, and Wrexford finds himself the primary suspect.
Charlotte Sloane is a talented artist, but knows the public would never follow a female cartoonist, so she uses her late husband’s pen name to put food on the table…at the expense of the rich and famous she scathingly depicts. When the Earl of Wrexford figures out her identity, she’s afraid he’ll expose her. Instead, he seeks her help in solving the mystery of the reverend’s death before he swings for the crime. But the crime has roots in dark secrets, and the perpetrator will stop at nothing to see that they fail, even adding more victims to the list.
Murder on Black Swan Lane is a richly-detailed story set in Regency England. Charlotte is an engaging character, full of curiosity and a secretive past, but determined to make her own way in the world. Wrexford is fascinating, with his dry sense of humor, brilliant mind, and disdain for traditions. Together, the two of them enter a dark and twisted world full of secrets that takes them places they’d never imagined.
Andrea Penrose is a romance author who writes under several pen names. Murder on Black Swan Lane is her newest book, the first book in the Wrexford & Sloane Regency series.
(Galley provided by Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.)