My December Reading Log

Favours Exchanged (Clorinda Cathcart’s Circle Book 5) by L.A. Hall continues to add to the original series, but in a way that is more for continuing readers than for new ones. I loved getting more about Maurice, and more Clorinda.

An Unacceptable Offer by Mary Balogh is an early Regency by one of my favorite romance authors. What I found interesting was the initial scene, which involved two men discussing the Season and the Marriage Mart in a way that was clearly an infodump for readers who knew nothing of either; this is something that became far less necessary as Regencies became a Thing and vast swathes of the genre were set in that time period. So far as the romance between the characters went, the heroine was convinced her feelings were unrequited, and the hero had to realize that he actually did have feelings for her. They probably should have talked honestly with each other a bit earlier on. The secondary romance was brief but delightful.

Hid from Our Eyes: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming is ninth in a series of which I had previously read only the first book. A lot has happened, continuity-wise, since that first book, but I was able to follow very easily. The mystery involved three murders, or possible-murders, spaced out by decades, and involving some of the same police officers. The structure thus had numerous flashbacks, and I was impressed by how smoothly the author integrated them into the story, and how well it flowed among the different time periods. Recommended for that alone.

Good Man Friday by Barbara Hambly is number twelve in a series I’ve been following since its inception. I’ve been hoarding books in this series for quite a while and finally decided now was the time! So I’m be catching up a bit and it is glorious. This one takes place in the Washington, D.C. during Andrew Jackson’s administration, before the Capitol Building had its dome and when many of its streets went nowhere. Ostensibly a story of a missing person, there is of course a murder as well, one that I found upsetting, but also weirdly inevitable. Hambly builds a strong picture of the black community and the dangers they faced in this place and time, while also dropping in a few historical personage cameos (or slightly more than cameos). All historical mystery series, in my opinion, have to match up to this one.

The Countess Conspiracy (The Brothers Sinister Book 3) by Courtney Milan is my favorite of the series so far. I won’t reveal why, because I think it’s best unspoiled. Just know that the romance is absolutely beautiful and yes, they talk to each other about what stands in their way and how they can resolve it, and yes, they belong together.

Crimson Angel by Barbara Hambly is thirteenth in the Benjamin January series and, like several previous books, takes some of the characters out of New Orleans, this time to Cuba and Haiti. That doesn’t count as a spoiler, because the sections of the book are named for places. I did figure out the Big Secret ahead of the characters, but there was enough other stuff going on that my insight in no way spoiled the story. I especially enjoyed seeing how the differences between Rose’s and Ben’s upbringing affected their adult selves, and seeing more of Ben’s thoughts about his Catholic faith.

The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold is the sixth Penric and Desdemona novella, which mainly deals with how a potential romantic partner deals with the idea of Penric and Desdemona being a package deal.

A Death at the Dionysus Club by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold is the second and last Mathey and Lynes supernatural mystery, and I wish there were more; I haven’t heard that there will be. Mathey and Lynes deal with mundane new relationship issues while trying to solve two separate mysteries, which turn out to be linked.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss finishes off the trilogy, which is a good thing, I think, because it felt cluttered now that there are so many characters to keep track of. That said, I still love the conceit of female “monsters” joining together, and I love the meta-commentary of the characters sprinkled throughout the book. And I love all the female mentors.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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