Recipe for Treason: A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery Mass Market Paperback – Dec 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 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.)
"Recipe for Treason" is an interesting combination of historical novel, cozy mystery, romance, and thriller. The historical background is interesting and obviously well-researched by the author. Lady Arianna and Lord Saybrook are both experts in using chocolate for exotic desserts, so it's fitting that each chapter begins with a different recipe using chocolate. Some, such as the Chocolate Nut Chews, even seem easy enough to make even if you are not a gourmet cook. There is a short author's note at the end to give perspective to some of the historical elements of the story. The search for a spy to prevent dangerous secrets from being leaked to France is interesting and for the most part, seemed realistic.
Lady Arianna and Lord Saybrook are a great match and wonderful lead characters. Both are unconventional, but have personalities that complement each other. Lord Grentham makes the perfect foil for them. He is sometimes cruel and manipulative, but this book shows another side to him, which makes his dealings with Arianna and Saybrook even more intriguing. Sophia Kirtland is a new character that plays a large role in this book. I really disliked her in the beginning of the book, but grew to care more about her by the end. I liked her bravery and willingness to put herself in danger to assist her country, but there isn't enough contrast between Sophia and Arianna to be really interesting. The two women have differences, mainly because Sophia is a well-educated scholar and Arianna had to learn everything she knows on her own or from her father. However, I think Sophia's outspoken and unconventional personality is too much like Arianna's to be a good partner for her in future adventures.
I usually prefer a book with an emphasis on the mystery, but with a little romance mixed in. However, in this series, more romance would greatly improve the books. Although this book and the prior book in the series are solid, well-written novels, neither have been able to recreate the magic and promise of the series debut, Sweet Revenge. Part of the reason is a shortage of romance. The relationship between Lady Arianna and Lord Saybrook is so crucial to the story, it needs to be turned up a notch. At one point in this book, Lady Arianna says, "And while the relationship had grown from regard and respect to something far deeper, there was much left unsaid between them." After three books and a year of marriage, it's well past time for the two to be honest and declare their love to one another. Then, near the end of the book, Lord Saybrook comments, "Love. That is a word which is rarely uttered aloud between us. Perhaps it should be said more often." I couldn't agree more!
This review was originally written for The Season EZine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Earl and Lady Saybrook and Henning, recently returned from Vienna in their search for Renard, are now traveling to Scotland to continue the search. Once they arrive in Scotland their first stop is the laboratory of Prof Girton, a noted scientist. But, they arrive just as he is taking his last breath. They gather some of his notes and reluctantly head back to London. Upon reading the notes and from other information that has been learned, they realize that Renard has plans to send the information for making a very destructive bomb to France.
What with Henning having been injured in Scotland, Saybrook, reluctantly ask Sophia, a long time friend is she would be willing to help them with their pursuit of Renard. Then, Lady Saybrook visits a café specializing in Chocolate and learns that hot air balloons are to be used to move the information for making the bomb to France.
This leads to a very exciting chase via hot air balloons to prevent the information from landing in France.
Can't wait to see where lady and Earl Saybrook will be off to next.