The Alchemist’s Daughter, (Bianca Goddard Mysteries 1), by Mary Lawrence
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Women’s literature, Historical fiction
I like the Tudor period in history, and this books brings it vividly to live. Not the richness of the Courts and moneyed classes, but the dark, grimy underbelly of those grubbing and scrabbling to survive daily in the poverty that most of the London lived in. I was disappointed that though Bianca is the daughter in the title, she abhorred the word alchemy, and thus there was little actual reference to it in the novel itself. I was expecting more, and its a subject that was very prevalent in “science” at the time and that fascinates me and was one of the draws to this novel. Still, it’s an interesting read, brings the time period to life vividly and is at times stomach churning ( the rats)….
I loved Bianca, a very strong, forthright character. John wants to marry her but she feels she can’t fit in to the Wife and Mother mould, without leaving her beloved experiments. That’s a part of who she is, though I feel John accepts that and wouldn’t expect her to drop everything. Never the less for now she’s still single, and poor John is still waiting – that’s about the extent of their romance in this book. Maybe later ones will take it further? There are some fabulous characters here, well drawn and who feel very true to the period. The story bases around the death of Bianca’s friend, and how Bianca needs to solve who killed her as she faces being hanged for the murder. It takes us on a winding tale, bringing in more murders and mysteries, blackmailing and bribery, smuggling and skulduggery– that seems to have been a way of life in this period, and takes us on a twisted journey before all is revealed.
Like other reviewers I wondered if I’d missed some kind of prequel featuring Bianca’s parents and the poisoning accusation, but there isn’t one even though this incident is referred to many times, and is one of the lynchpins of Bianca’s hate of the word Alchemy. Which brings us to that subject and how disappointed I was that there wasn’t more than simply that dislike of hers in the book. I’d have loved a bit more description about her remedies too – but that’s just a personal thing, I find mediaeval remedies fascinating, dead mice tied in a scarf for a sore throat, mercury to cure syphilis – that kind of weirdness! The mystery itself is fairly simple, but takes us on quite a twisting journey before we get to the true story. I’m still a bit puzzled even after finishing by the Rat Man who is at the beginning and the end….
Stars: Four, a fun read and a vivid portrayal of everyday life for the underclasses in this period of history.
ARC supplied by publishers
Truly, Madly, Greekly, Mandy Baggot
Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews.
I adore Mandy’s books, and by coincidence have just finished rereading the fabulous Excess All Areas. I was really looking forward to this one, back on the wonderful Greek Islands, sun, sand, sex – all the elements for a great read. Sadly though this one just didn’t work for me, the first of Mandy’s novels that I’ve read that I didn’t fall in love with.
So, what went wrong for me? Well Ellen, for a serious character who runs her life by a Plan she made a stupid mistake, and I didn’t feel that her character would have done that. I liked her as a person, its just the actions didn’t fit the character I saw. Lacey, her sister, was a real irritation, selfish, self absorbed and spoiled – you can tell I didn’t like her can’t you 😉 though right at the very end she did redeem herself. I liked the entertainment gang, especially Dasha, he was a treat! Yan seemed a nice guy, but not the hero type I’ve come to expect, kind of an understated man. He was solid at the end, but I didn’t feel that connection between him and Ellen, that magical sizzle that I need if I’m to believe they’re in love after a week….
The secrets too…just didn’t ring true for me, and I just felt they were a bit OTT. Still, as always that’s just me. This is a good read, a fun, well written romance, but it’s not the five star one I’ve come to expect from Mandy now – she’s set the bar high, and of course not every book will make it for every reader. Though this one doesn’t for me I’m sure it will for many others.
Stars: Three, an OK read only for me.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers