WWW Wednesday at coffee and ink #5

Sam at Taking on a World of Words is the host of WWW Wednesday.  To participate, all you have to do is answer the three W questions and post in the comments section at Sam’s blog:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

From Net Galley, a nonfiction book about the Amazon.  I read a bunch of books related to some research for a novel about the history of South America and the Amazon–gruesome and gorgeous reading, so when I saw this, I picked it up to continue my queries, as the novel hit a snag and sits in a drawer at this moment. My research made me curious for more.

I’m really hoping it’s more like Wade Davis and less like Lynn V. Andrews…update:  Nothing at all like Lynn V Andrews (Medicine Woman, et al), thank goodness, and a fascinating memoir so far…not like Wade Davis, either, though I love Wade Davis’s work.

 

The next in the Regency Mystery series by Tracy Grant…update: just got back to this…

What did you recently finish reading?

From the UK publisher Cheyne Walk, which published “The Way Back to Florence.” Review to come on this. I loved this book!

From Amazon: Set in the 1960s, the story of Jody, her little daughter Anna, and Zé, veers between an unhappy marriage in the North of England and a journey to find love amid the vivid landscapes of Portugal, while exposing the darkest shadows of Europe’s longest-running dictatorship. A Sea of Straw is a haunting debut that will linger in the memory.

From Net Galley, and it’s release isn’t until October 3, so watch this space for a release day review.  I love KJ Charles’ gay historical romances–she is the queen of the genre, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve read every story she’s written (Except for Last Stop Tokyo, which I really must get to!) This series, Sins of the City, revolves around an inheritance, secret births, and more than one murder.  The first novel is An Unseen Attraction and the second An Unnatural Vice.

What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I’ve got to finish the Tracy Grant in order to move on in the series.  I’ve got a list longer than I-don’t-know-what to check out.  From Net Galley, I’ve got this to look forward to:

Description

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Book Review–or not….

How can I not have finished a single book this week? I’m halfway through…everything. Maybe I’m overtired and a little overwrought about work issues and my brain just won’t settle. I’m enjoying everything, especially Julia Sutton’s Sea of Straw. I think I’ll finish that one first, anyway, so look for the review next Sunday 😀

 

 

Book Review: The Address by Fiona Davis

Title:  The Address

Author: Fiona Davis

Publisher: Dutton

Release Date: 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: The Dakota, NYC, 1880s and 1980s 

Her debut novel is The Dollhouse.

 The concept of this novel is fantastic. The famous NYC Dakota luxury apartment building in two different eras—1880s and 1980s.  The story revolves around a mystery woman, Sara, who in the past had worked her way up to head housekeeper at an upscale London Hotel. When the opportunity to emigrate to America emerges, she takes it though not without some trepidation.  

In the present, Bailey has just got out of rehab and is also looking for a second chance.  She’s renovating an apartment in the Dakota for an extravagant cousin with bad taste, and thus she’s able to investigate some old trunks left in the basement. In these, she meets a woman from the previous century who was imprisoned in the madhouse for the murder of her lover.

What I liked about the story is the similarities and contrasts between these two women as the narrative plays out.  Bailey meets Sara between the pages and in pictures from the trunk and all these things not only make her curious, but affect her own future at the Dakota. The alternating histories work really well here, as both women dig deeper to the truth about themselves.

 

WWW Wednesday at coffee and ink #4

Since yesterday was Net Neutrality Day, I moved my posts this week forward by one day.

Sam at Taking on a World of Words is the host of WWW Wednesday.  To participate, all you have to do is answer the three W questions and post in the comments section at Sam’s blog:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

This is a re-read and a comfort read–I love Lord John, and he’s one of the reasons I started writing gay romance.  I’m also a member of the FB group Lord John Grey Society. He’s a side character who became very important to the Outlander series and got his own series of historical mysteries. DG started with a short story for him for an anthology and now the producers are talking about a spinoff series from television Outlander. Yay!

The next in the Regency Mystery series by Tracy Grant…

What did you recently finish reading?

Comfort re-read. In the FB group, members frequently post excerpts about Lord John, and it whet my appetite to go back to them…

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m still working on this:

From Net Galley, a nonfiction book about the Amazon.  I read a bunch of books related to some research for a novel about the history of South America and the Amazon–gruesome and gorgeous reading, so when I saw this, I picked it up to continue my queries, as the novel hit a snag and sits in a drawer at this moment. My research made me curious for more.

I’m really hoping it’s more like Wade Davis and less like Lynn V. Andrews…

I’m really looking forward to this one–from the publisher Cheyne Walk, which published “The Way Back to Florence.” Review to come on this.

From Amazon: Set in the 1960s, the story of Jody, her little daughter Anna, and Zé, veers between an unhappy marriage in the North of England and a journey to find love amid the vivid landscapes of Portugal, while exposing the darkest shadows of Europe’s longest-running dictatorship. A Sea of Straw is a haunting debut that will linger in the memory.

 

 

 

The Angels Bridge

We (a couple of history geeks) went to Rome in the spring of 2016 and loved it!

by Alberto Manodori Sagredo

http://www.italianways.com/the-angels-bridge-in-rome/

“The Aelian Bridge – known as Ponte Sant’Angelo since the Middle Ages for its connection to the history of the nearby Castel Sant’Angelo – was built between 133 and 134 AD by Emperor Hadrian, to link the left bank of the Tiber with his mausoleum, the monumental and majestic tomb he had built, emulating the mausoleum Augustus had erected along the Via Flaminia (now Via del Corso). It was a bridge fit for an imperial funeral!

During the Middle Ages the bridge became particularly important because it was the only controlled passageway for pilgrims going to Saint Peter’s Basilica – first the one built by Constantine I, and then the current, 16th-century one – to visit the apostle’s grave.

Dante mentions the bridge in his “Inferno” (Canto 18, 25-33), describing the two flows of pilgrims who, on the occasion of the first Jubilee convoked by Pope Boniface VIII in the year 1300, walked in parallel queues, coming and going.

Ponte Sant’Angelo is to this day the most beautiful bridge in the world. Its regularity, symmetry, openness to light, and perfect distance between arches and water surface make it unique… not to mention the precious materials it is made of, and the monumental impact it has altogether. Last but not least, it is the bridge that connects the Eternal City to Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where the mortal remains of the first Vicar of Christ were laid to rest, and where the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church resides.

The highlight of the structure are the statues of the angels flanking the marble parapets, which seem to frame the river as it flows, visible through the elegant wrought iron grating.

There are ten statues, full of movement and lightness, both in their position and gestures and in the way their clothes are animated by the wind, symbolizing their participation in the Passion of Christ. The ten angels stand on tall bases, which originally supported the wooden columns of the bridge’s roofing.

Some of them look serene, in their certainty that Christ will resurrect; others seem to hardly contain the compassion and pity for his suffering.

Each of the ten, candid white, marble angels holds an instrument of the Passion: they present them to passersby, as if along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, or a Via Crucis like the one on the Sacred Mountain of Varallo.

This was one of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s most insightful ideas: to create a Via Crucis where the instruments of the Passion could be contemplated, to repent, to prepare for the Confession as one walked towards the Vatican Basilica, towards the first of Christ’s disciples, the Holy See, Corpus Domini, and salvation.

In 1667, Clement IX entrusted Bernini with the task of sculpting the angels for Ponte Sant’Angelo, for which the Pope had already purchased ten blocks of marble.

By 1668, Bernini had decided that the angels would forma a “living” Via Crucis – with spectators participating in the suspension of disbelief that makes art become a real part of life, like in theater. He then ordered that eight of the large marble blocks be delivered to some of the sculptors who shared his style and vision. He kept two of them for himself, which he would transform into the angel holding the INRI superscription and the one holding the crown of thorns.

In 1669, before dying in December, Clement IX saw the statues by Bernini and decided they were too magnificent for the bridge: he had them replaced by copies by the master’s collaborators, and the originals were eventually placed in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, a stone’s throw from Piazza di Spagna.

By 1670, all the sculptures were completed and placed on the bridge, where to this day the angels with the instruments of the Passion of Christ accompany those directed to Saint Peter’s Basilica along the ancient jubilar road.

At the end of the bridge on the bank opposite the Castle, the statues of Saint Peter holding the keys of heaven (by Il Lorenzetto, 1534) and Saint Paul holding the sward (by Paolo Romano, 1464) stand on bases inscribed with the words “Hinc humilibus venia” and “Hinc retributio superbis”, making the bridge a symbolic passageway where the humble and the proud are reminded of what they respectively deserve.

The bases on which the angels were erected are also inscribed with verses from the Bible, transforming the instruments of the Passion into instances of Christ’s majesty, overturning their material function to the point they become symbols of divine glory. At the same time, each quotation prompts the repentant to consider their sins, and to conform to the teachings of Jesus in the spirit of the famous De imitatione Christi.

The first angel, by Antonio Raggi, holds up the flogging column to which Jesus was tied. The inscription reads: “My throne is upon a column”.

The second angel, by Lazzaro Morelli, contemplates with obvious sadness the whips that wounded the Lord. The inscription reads: “I am ready for the scourge”.

The third angel, sculpted by Paolo Naldini and perfected by Bernini himself, presents the crown of thorns, a symbol of the vane blindness of the men who were unable to recognize Christ’s authority. The inscription reads: “The thorn is fastened upon me”.

The fourth angel, by Cosimo Fancelli, observes with pity the face of Christ impressed in blood on the Veil of Veronica. The inscription reads: “Look upon the face of your Christ”.

The fifth angel, by Paolo Naldini, carries the garment and dice. The inscription reads: “For my clothing they cast lots”.

The sixth angel, by Girolamo Lucenti, holds the nails that pierced the hands and feet of Jesus. The inscription reads: “They will look upon me whom they have pierced”.

The seventh angel, by Ercole Ferrata, holds the cross, as the strongest symbol of the Passion as well as an icon of faith in Him. The inscription reads: “Dominion rests on his shoulders”.

The eight angel – which was officially entrusted to Giulio Cartari, but has recently been established was the work of Bernini himself, replicating the work he had done for the original in Sant’Andrea delle Fratte – uncurls the INRI superscription, casting his gaze to the skies, the Kingdom of Christ. The inscription reads: “God has reigned from the tree” (referencing the wood of the cross).

The ninth angel, by Antonio Giorgetti, observes with an expression of deep sorrow the sponge attached to the end of his stick, so real you expect sour wine to drip from it. The inscription reads: “They gave me vinegar to drink”.

The tenth and last angel, by Domenico Guidi, stares in misery at the point of the lance he carries, lifting it as if to mimic the moment when the spear wounded the heart of Jesus. The inscription reads: “You have ravished my heart”, reminding pilgrims of the pain men’s sins caused Jesus.

All the angels stand, faithful to tradition, on marble clouds of varying degrees of fullness. Let’s not forget that, since the statues are set on high pedestals, passersby see them from below, against the Roman sky.

Thus the devotional, painful journey along the Via Crucis respects and evokes, through the symbology of these instruments, the chronological and narrative succession of the moments in the Passion of Christ.”

Sunday Book Review: Watch the Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge

 

Publisher: Bloomsbury Reader

Release Date: Original 1966, re-release January 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Setting:  Regency England, Sussex

Our heroine, Christina, is an American come back to England, after her father’s violent death, to the family pile. Her father had left the stifling life under his father’s brutal thumb, with his French wife before the war with Napoleon, and she in turn left him with their eldest daughter, Christina.  She has no one else to turn to, no other family, and so she sends a letter to her grandfather telling them that she is on her way back to them, her only flesh and blood.

The locals in Rye, of course, warn her about the “Dark House” and traveling there by night because “they” don’t like it (see the poem below).  They could be anyone, as far as she knows, from bandits, smugglers, or the soldiers guarding the coast.

The story plays out beautifully against an interesting period in history when invasion of England by Napoleon appeared imminent. Hodge reverses some of the die-hard Gothic Romance tropes—the old butler is nothing but kind to Christina and the domineering-type mother is pretty ineffectual, though even that appears to leave a mark on her son, Ross. There’s an inheritance involved, and a competition for it, while meanwhile a French privateer hovers just off the coast, upsetting everyone.  There’s a very harrowing and haunting scene towards the end when Christina finds out what happens if one doesn’t watch the wall as advised, and sees more than they should.  

I loved Christina, again not a usual heroine one expects from the genre that typically had women in negligees running from dark houses in bad weather on their covers.  She’s an American, tall, speaks her mind, and spends much of her time mediating. When a wounded man needs her help, she doesn’t hesitate to help out, though this puts her in danger. She gets afraid, angry, but keeps it contained. Plus, she’s got a secret, too.

Ross, the broody hero/antihero, is a typical, on the outside, Regency rake.  He’s keeping a lot of secrets bottled up, and the family doesn’t want to trust him, so every time he disappears they backstab him and make plans around him. No wonder his uncle left for the states, it was saner! 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story— the writing, the setting and characters, the twists in the plot.

In order to help me form my thoughts about this review, I had to do a little homework to reacquaint myself and found some great sites reviewing vintage and contemporary gothic romance. I’ve included them here:

http://gothicromancereviews.blogspot.com/

https://whiskeywithmybook.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/the-sweet-spot-gothic-romance-guest-post-by-kathryn-troy/

 

A Smuggler’s Song  from http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_smuggler.htm
IF you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,

Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,

Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.

Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.

Five and twenty ponies,

Trotting through the dark –

Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.

Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,

Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find

Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,

Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.

Put the brishwood back again – and they’ll be gone next day !

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;

If you see a tired horse lying down inside;

If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;

If the lining’s wet and warm – don’t you ask no more !

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,

You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.

If they call you ” pretty maid,” and chuck you ‘neath the chin,

Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been !

Knocks and footsteps round the house – whistles after dark –

You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.

Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie

They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by !

‘If You do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,

You’ll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,

With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood –

A present from the Gentlemen, along ‘o being good !

Five and twenty ponies,

Trotting through the dark –

Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.

Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –

Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by !

WWW Wednesday at coffee and ink #3

Sam at Taking on a World of Words is the host of WWW Wednesday.  To participate, all you have to do is answer the three W questions and post in the comments section at Sam’s blog:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Beneath A Silent Moon by Tracy Grant, which is the second or first? in the Malcom/Suzanne Rannoch series, Regency Mystery.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED Secrets of a Lady, the first one published. I’m confused about why the first book became the 11th or 7th book, depending on whether you’re at Good Reads or Amazon, but if you go by the writing timeline, Secrets of a Lady was written first and Beneath A Silent Moon takes place two years earlier. I’m looking forward to the lush detail, the immersion into the Regency era again, the two main characters and all their secrets, and the twisty-twisty plot. Why the change in the characters’ names? I guess I’ll find out.

I’ve stalled on the Devil’s Grin, not sure why.

What did you recently finish reading?

Secrets of a Lady, from above. Blew me away, like Julian Kestral and Seb St. Cyr.  I confess I was almost afraid to start it, because I didn’t want to be disappointed, and I wasn’t! 🙂

Also, my comfort read, Captain Lacey and A Murder in Grosvenor  Square.  The writing just isn’t as sophisticated and lush as the Regencies above, but I still like them for the well-plotted murder investigation when Marianne isn’t being a pain. I really like Donata and her cool.

What do you think you’ll read next?

From Net Galley, a nonfiction book about the Amazon.  I read a bunch of books related to some research for a novel about the history of South America and the Amazon–gruesome and gorgeous reading, so when I saw this, I picked it up to continue my queries, as the novel hit a snag and sits in a drawer at this moment. My research made me curious for more.

I’m really hoping it’s more like Wade Davis and less like Lynn V. Andrews…

Reviews for these two are coming up soon!

 

 

Happy Fourth of July…

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

WWW Wednesday at coffee and ink

Sam at Taking on a World of Words is the host of WWW Wednesday.  To participate, all you have to do is answer the three W questions and post in the comments section at Sam’s blog:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I’m in the midst of doing research for a novel set in the mid 1870s in NYC, whose characters, for the most part, are veterans of the Civil War. So, True Crime in the Civil War by Tobin Buhk, Nineteenth Century American Women Theatre Mangers by Jane Kathleen Curry, and the best of all three City of Women by Christine Stansell.

For fiction, I’m reading The Devil’s Grin by A. Wendeberg, a novel about a female doctor in Victorian London masquerading as male and who meets up with Sherlock Holmes to solve murders. Very well done, a self-pubber who’s done their due diligence with editing and research.

I’m also reading the ninth in the Captain Gabriel Lacey Regency mystery series. Obviously I like them and will keep reading, but they have becoming something of a comfort read more than anything else. I find myself now a little impatient with his family and marriage issues and wish he’d get on with the story–but that’s what I get for reading them too close together, I think. I also wish they’d put Lacey on the cover and not these ladies…

 

What did you recently finish reading?

These two, which were both very good, especially the Hodge’s novel.  Reviews to come on both of these. From Net Galley.

Description

Only a deathbed promise to her dying father could force Christina Tretton to travel to Tretteign Grange, the ‘Dark House’, and meet her estranged family for the first time. Having to fast-talk her way out of an encounter with smugglers on the way is only the beginning. Waiting for her is flighty aunt Verity, her two very different cousins – the stoic Ross and fawning Richard – and her formidable grandfather, who changes his Will every few days.
Taking the neglectful servants in hand, Christina is soon managing the house, proving herself invaluable in her grandfather’s eyes. This backfires when he decides he wants her as his heir, and only on the condition that she marries Ross or Richard. Outraged, she swears she will marry neither, but her cousins have different ideas. Should she marry the cousin she is drawn to, even if he appears to have no true feelings for her?
Hanging over them is the constant threat of invasion, as Dark House looks over the sea to France, and Napoleon. When cousin Ross disappears, it is up to Christina to stand in his stead and take on the running of the estate — amongst some of his more disreputable duties. For as soldiers work to fortify the coast, Christina finds herself in the twisted intrigues of smugglers and spies.

Watch the Wall, My Darling first published in 1966, is another great historical romance from the master of the genre – Jane Aiken Hodge.

 

Description

Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, New York City’s most famous residence.

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives —and lies—of the beating hearts within.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Hmm, good question. There’s another interlibrary loan book waiting for me down the hill–it’s Secrets of a Lady by Tracy Grant, and likely that’s next just because of the due date.

In the glittering world of Regency London, where gossip is exchanged—and reputations ruined—with the tilt of a fan, Mélanie Fraser is the perfect wife. Devoted to her husband, Charles, the grandson of a duke, she is acknowledged as society’s most charming hostess. But just as the elegant façade of Regency London hides a dark side, Mélanie is not what she seems. She has a secret: one that could destroy her perfect jewel-box life forever . . . and the cost to keep it is an exquisite heirloom ring surrounded by legend and power. The search for it will pull Mélanie and Charles into a gritty underworld of gin-soaked brothels, elegant gaming hells, and debtors’ prisons. In this maze of intrigue, deception is second nature and betrayal can come far too easily . . .(from Amazon)