Winners Choice
ends 5.31

May 17, 2016

Liked It: A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: 
Publisher: Alibi
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

Karen Odden’s enthralling debut historical mystery transports readers to Victorian England, where a terrifying railway disaster plunges a headstrong young noblewoman into a conspiracy that reaches to the highest corridors of power.

Following a humiliating fourth Season in London, Lady Elizabeth Fraser is on her way back to her ancestral country estate when her train careens off the rails and bursts into flames. Though she is injured, she manages to drag herself and her unconscious mother out of the wreckage, and amid the chaos that ensues, a brilliant young railway surgeon saves her mother’s life. Elizabeth feels an immediate connection with Paul Wilcox—though society would never deem a medical man eligible for the daughter of an earl.

After Paul reveals that the train wreck was no accident, and the inspector who tried to prevent it dies under mysterious circumstances, Elizabeth undertakes a dangerous investigation of her own that leads back to her family’s buried secrets. The more she learns, the more she must risk. Not only are her dowry and her reputation at stake; Paul’s very life hangs in the balance when he is arrested for manslaughter. As the trial draws near, and Parliament prepares for a vote that will change the course of the nation, Elizabeth uncovers a conspiracy that has been years in the making. But time is running out for her to see justice done.

I love Victorian era novels be it fantasy, romance, or in this case, a mystery. A LADY IN THE SMOKE started with a tragic railroad accident which turned into a malpractice/murder lawsuit against Paul, the doctor who helped Lady Elizabeth Fraser and her mother survive that night. Out of gratitude and justice to the wrongly accused, Elizabeth pooled her resources to help Paul's defense. As the investigation progressed Elizabeth discovered that it was no accident and Paul's case is but a diversion in a bigger and more nefarious plot that involves Elizabeth's family directly. Elizabeth uncovered layers of betrayal, manipulation, and revenge that led to her father's death and now continues to threaten her future. 

The historical aspect of A LADY IN THE SMOKE is well done and very gritty. There's the usual affluence attached to the aristocracy that can be seen here and the class division is very stark. The setting focused more on the differences between the classes than on the landscape and other circumstance.

I didn't care much for the romance between Paul and Elizabeth as they didn't display a flaming attraction for each other. Also, their pairing is so downplayed I was a little surprised when they started showing signs of affection. I feel like this is a missed opportunity because it could've roused more emotions from me if only the author invested more page time building the romance between the two. Elizabeth is a Lady and Paul a surgeon, an improper relationship at this time, a perfect set up for a tense filled romance. And it doesn't have to be fiery, they just have to go through the "motions" for it to be convincing. 

The mystery suspense in A LADY IN SMOKE is its strongest suit. This is where all the plotting went to and its very well done. The author took her time in building the case, revealing clues here and there leading to some shocking revelations motivated by money, revenge, and decades-old grudges.

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  1. Too bad the romance wasn't better. Wonderful honest review!

  2. I don't usually read historical reads, but this one sounds like a great read! Thanks!

  3. I'm a sucker for Victorian novels, too. It's too bad about the romance falling flat, especially when the mystery part was well done.

  4. It sounds like we have a great mix there but it's difficult I understand when you can't connect to the romance

  5. I can do mystery of it is historical

  6. I'm glad the mystery was so well done, Braine, but I can see where a more developed romance would have enhanced the story by strengthening your connection with the characters.

  7. I feel like the romance should have not even been added, since it was so dry. I would have rather this been a full mystery novel without romantic ties. I love the era, but I don't think this is my type of read. Great review!

  8. This one looks right up my alley, love the blurb, the review and the cover!! Win win!

  9. Awww I'd want more romance too.

  10. This sounds like a fun read. Sucks that the romance kind of came out of no where. It almost sounds like it would have benefited from no romance. Especially since it seems like the story was focused on the mystery of it all. :\ Great review.

  11. The mystery suspense really appeals to me, and I love the cover.

  12. If the romance doesn't work it kinda throws the whole story off balance.

  13. Too bad about the romance, but the rest sounds good. I love a well researched book so that stands out for me.

  14. I got this one, too. It was a bit slow in the middle and I wanted more of a relationship build, but I overall loved it. Hope there are more.

  15. I feel like the romance in a book makes or breaks it. So it sucks that it didn't get fair attention during the writing.

  16. Well that's a different set up. I love the sounds of the historical aspect. Too bad on the romance side.

  17. I am so totally thrilled to see people talking about my book, you don't even know! As a first-time author, I am sincerely grateful to anyone who reads my book all the way through and actually cares enough to blog thoughtfully about it. So thank you, thank you! I hope some of the rest of you will give it a try, and let me know what you think--all comments welcome :). I'm working on my next, a mystery set in 1878, about a Scotland Yard Inspector who worked his way out of seedy Whitechapel and must figure out why a rich, beautiful girl was murdered and sent floating down the Thames in a boat.... Thanks again for all the support. Means the world :)


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