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Recipe for Treason: A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery (Lady Arianna Hadley Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – December 4, 2012
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"A heroine feisty enough to give the most rakish Regency cad a run for his money."--Tasha Alexander, author of Dangerous to Know
"Andrea Penrose is an expert at combining conspiracy and chocolate."--Genre Go Round Reviews
About the Author
Andrea Penrose is the author of the Lady Arianna Hadley Mysteries. She created her first book at age five—a neatly penciled story lavishly illustrated with drawings of horses and cowboys. She has since moved on from the wild and woolly Old West to the grit and glamour of Regency England.
A graduate of Yale University, Penrose loves exploring London, where the myriad offbeat museums and funky antique markets offer a wealth of inspiration for her stories.
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In this tale, Lord Grentham has arm-twisted Lord and Lady Saybrook into following up on a lead from their last adventure, which takes them to Scotland to interview a scholar who's doing some disturbing scientific experiments. And then back to London to muck about in Society as well as in scientific circles. All to figure out who is trying to steal secrets from the British -- the identify of the elusive Renard! It's a bit of a murder mystery, a recipe book (every chapter begins with a chocolate recipe), a historical novel (lots of interesting information about the state of scientific research in the early 1800s), and nominally a romance.
Only some of these work. The historical novel part is cool, though with an annoying amount of "As You Know" exposition, in which characters unrealistically explain things to one another that they already know perfectly well. The recipes are actively good; there's a recipe for chocolate-cherry brownies (with a cup of port) that I am quite tempted to make.
From a storytelling point of view, though... this isn't awful, I absolutely kept reading, but based on the earlier novels, I expected better. I like the recurring characters, such as Saybrook's aunt, but they don't get much "screen time." The new characters are fine, but really how many unconventional women can I buy into? There are tensions between the couple that aren't resolved because they largely aren't even talked about. I don't think we even see a single kiss. And the sad sin: I figured out whodunnit well ahead of time, even if I didn't know the motivation.
If you liked the two earlier books in the series, you probably do want to read this. But don't be in a huge rush to do so. (Sigh. I SO wanted to love this book.)