by Mary Saums
This month, in amongst the usual reading fare of detectives detecting and suspense sus-p-e-n-d-ing, I read two books outside strict "mystery" lines that I enjoyed very much.
THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER by Phaedra Patrick was a complete delight. Not a mystery, but the story line is full of surprise turns. We're introduced to Arthur Pepper, a sixty-nine-year-old Englishman of strict habits. As he goes about his morning routine, we learn it is the first anniversary of his beloved wife's death. Until now, he has been unable to give away any of her things, feeling it was somehow disrespectful. But he decides this is the time.
Miriam's clothes came mostly from second-hand stores but were of good quality. She never cared for fancy things. Which is why, when Arthur felt something odd in one of her shoes, he was astonished to pull out a gold charm bracelet. He'd never seen it before.
And so begins his quest to find out what these charms mean and why Miriam kept them a secret for so many years.
I really loved the way the author kept surprising me all through the book. Warm, delightful, touching ... this is one comfort book I'll read and re-read.
A CURIOUS BEGINNING by Deanna Rayburn is first in a new series by this much-loved author of romantic historical mysteries.
Veronica Speedwell, the young heroine of the series, has had an unusual childhood. She was an orphan taken in by two elderly maiden aunts who liked to move every year or so. The aunts, of an unusual progressive and feminist mindset for 1880s England, schooled her themselves while traveling about the country. Her love of science and nature lead her to a small business for herself, catching rare butterflies and selling them to collectors.
One aunt dies, and in a few years, the second one passes. After the funeral, Veronica returns home to find a burglar in the house. Why would anyone think she or her poor aunts would have something worth stealing?
A CURIOUS BEGINNING does have mystery elements and what might be the beginnings of a romantic aspect. It has lots of good action and interesting settings, just as in the author's other books.
But among all the rave reviews on Amazon were two or three with complaints about Veronica being unlikeable, snobbish or too free or progressive for the 1880's. I disagree. I'd attribute any snobbish behavior to her being very young and being raised outside or free of institutions, like schools and churches. One thing though - I did listen to the audiobook. It might be that the reader's voice made it all work for me. I loved it.
Looking forward to more in the series!
So .... I'm curious .... :) .... what books have you been reading and really enjoying?