Mini Book Reviews // January Library Reads

As I said in my first post of this month, I'm cutting the full book reviews down to two a month at least until the end of May, due to a particularly busy season coming up.  I also said in that post that I planned to do "mini" book reviews per month, so as to keep up with the Snagged @ the Library challenge.  And today, I am here to do just that.  Today I plan to talk about the books I read from the library last month.  My goal is to read at least 3 books from the library a month (to meet my goal for the challenge), but as I am reviewing one of those books this month in a normal book review, I'm talking about only two today.  Confused, much?
These are two books by the same author: Tasha Alexander.  I spoke about discovering her in my Books of 2014 post, and since then, I've picked up a couple more from her.  She has quickly become a favorite historical mystery writer.  The book on the right, And Only to Deceive was Alexander's debut and the first in the series about Lady Emily.  The one on the left is #5 in the series, and it takes place shortly after Emily's marriage to Colin Hargreaves (*spoiler alert*).

For these mini reviews, I'm not going to outline the plot or talk about the writing really; I'll just go over the things I loved or did not love about the book and whether or not I'd recommend it.

And Only To Deceive: This book was awesome.  I know that the debut of a new author tends to be pretty good, especially if they are writing a series, and that was definitely true in this case.  In a way unlike the other books from this series, And Only to Deceive was really hard to put down.  Lady Emily had just lost her first husband, whom she hadn't really known, and the book is her journey to finding out more about him and actually falling in love with the man he was, when there had been no love on her part prior to his death.  There is a mystery involved, too, and she eventually discovers that her husband had been murdered.  I loved that this book had some romance in it, albeit in a weird way, and it was fast-paced enough to keep me interested all the way to the end.  There were twists and turns, engaging characters, and it was an excellent introduction to Lady Emily.  I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for a historical mystery series set in Victorian England and, if like me, you appreciate your historical mysteries to have a pleasant, but not overwhelming amount of romance .  This one gets a thumbs up from me – it is definitely my favorite book in the Lady Emily series so far.

Dangerous To Know: I didn't like this one so much.  The story took place shortly after Emily's marriage to Colin Hargreaves, and in the book right before this one (#4), she had miscarried due to injuries she incurred while working on a case.  As a result, Colin is very protective of her in this story – to the point where he forbids her (or at least tries to forbid her) from taking part in his next case.  There is a lot of back and forth between them: she's angry with him for taking her independence, he's angry with her for going against his wishes...blah, blah, blah.  It got old real quick.  It did not help that Emily was a hormonal, emotional mess after losing her unborn child (I'm not saying she shouldn't have been – obviously she should be), but with the issues with Colin and complications with the case they were working on, it was just too much.  Too much emotional garbage and not enough mystery.  When I read a mystery, I absolutely want to learn about the character and his or her story/feelings, but I don't want that to overwhelm the mystery.  In this book, the character's emotions and feelings were so intertwined with the mystery itself that they just seemed to overwhelm the storyline.  When this happens, I feel like I have to keep reminding myself of the mystery they are trying to solve, and I don't think that should happen in a mystery.  I am not saying that I did not respect Lady Emily's emotions/situation – I do – but I didn't like that they were so prominent and overwhelmed the mystery.  Also, unlike And Only To Deceive, I felt like the book got a little long and seemed to drag.  There were many characters all doing their own thing, and playing their own parts in the story, and it all added up to a plot that was a little sluggish, and a that book I wasn't dying to finish.

And those were the two of the three books I read last month from the library!  One hit and one miss, but an author whose work I will definitely continue to read.  I will be back tomorrow to share some of my favorite nonfiction books.  Thanks for reading!  xo, Ella

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