Some days it feels like I’m deliberately reading mediocre books, but then I have to remind myself that what I am doing is trying new authors and it will all turn out ok. I have been reading a lot of contemporaries lately and wanted to get back to my historical roots. This is a new-to-me author and the second book of a trilogy. I did not read the first book, and I don’t think I missed anything important. Our heroine, Ravenna, is the youngest of three sisters who were abandoned in childhood and raised by a country preacher. (Presumably in the first book) a fortune teller told them that when one of the sisters marries a prince they will learn their family’s history. My eyes are rolling here, but the plot point that sucked me in was that Ravenna heads to a house party in France that is being thrown by a lesser Portuguese prince. The house party becomes snowbound (excellent trope!) and then a murder must be solved. Ravenna teams up with Vitor, a second son of an English aristocrat who also happens to be the prince’s illegitimate brother, to solve the mystery while falling in love.
Have you read Deanna Raybourn’s Julia Grey novels? If you haven’t – you should! I would call them historical mysteries with strong romantic elements, not full on romance novels. I’ve only read the first three (because I have heard the rest of the series heads downhill and I want to keep the happy memories alive), but my favorite was the second, Silent in the Sanctuary. The plot of that one? Oh, a house party that gets snowbound and then there is a murder that our leads team up to solve while falling in love. You can see why I wanted to check this book out. Unfortunately, Ashe’s book lacked both the subtlety and historical accuracy of Raybourn’s.
I don’t even want to talk about the details of this book. I tried to write them up, but I just can’t. Ravenna was a pretty good character. She was a trained veterinarian (and commoner) and ultra feminist. Vitor was kind of a bore. He had a conflicted past and was some sort of monk and also could not express himself. You know, the romance usual. He was fine, just not interesting. Best thing about him was how he acknowledged Ravenna’s greatness. There were class differences that were overcome with nothing at all and no explanation for how they will live together later. I’m still not entirely sure who the murderer was. It was very convoluted. There was a big cast of characters (suspects), but a lot of them ran together for me and I couldn’t keep them straight.
TL:DR – If the idea of a snowbound house party murder mystery sounds good to you, go read Deanna Raybourn, not this book.