Thursday, February 23, 2012
Book Review: When Maidens Mourn by C. S. Harris
I've just finished reading the latest installment in C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series.
This tasty little historical thriller, set in Georgian England, features a cast of deliciously wealthy, charismatic aristocrats tied up in a murder case unlike any other.
Gabrielle Tennyson, a progressive woman scholar from a preeminent family, is found dead. Her two young nephews have gone missing. French and English espionage, prisoners of war, forbidden love, unscrupulous academics and government conspiracy and cover-up all add to the excitement. Greed, self-interest and a few very well-kept secrets made this book enjoyably tumultuous until the end.
Intrigue and romance abound, but Harris impressed me with her scholarship. Delicately woven into her well-wrought story are lesser members of the Tennyson family, and the book radiates imagery from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's beautiful poem, The Lady of Shalott. Arthurian legends and English history also play a large part in this book's galloping plot made this book very fun to read!
I haven't had the opportunity to read other of the six (!) books from Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series, but I hope to do so soon. I came to this book with no former knowledge of St. Cyr or his independent new bride, Hero (nee Jarvis). Harris did a wonderful job of providing enough back story about their tumultuous relationship without overwhelming or confusing the reader.
This book was reminiscent of two other period mysteries I've very much enjoyed over the last few years, Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series and the India Black series by by the talented Carol K. Carr. Although When Maidens Mourn is similar to both of these series in many way, the well-crafted characters and bedeviled murder case truly set Harris apart from her talented peers. If you're a fan of Willig or Carr, snap up a copy of this latest by Harris. You won't be disappointed.
I also must congratulate the jacket artist, Adam Auerbach, for designing such an attractive book. It drips with decadence, and I am not ashamed to say that this book's cover successfully lured me.
As I am not a mystery reader by nature, I am very glad to have received a free, advance copy of this novel from the publisher, Obsidian (of Penguin). The release date for this book is March 6, 2012.