Yay for Guest Posts! This post is from my best friend, Marisa, at the Bookish Mouse. Marisa gives the most enjoyable (and often smutty) book recommendations ever. We have also been known to giggle (and perhaps cackle) in the aisles of major bookstores. I also like to play a game in B&N (much to Marisa’s chagrin) called, “can we find a shelf full of books that Marisa hasn’t read?” As she is a voracious reader, it takes quite some time to find a shelf without at least one book she’s read. Enjoy… 😉
Originally, I was going to write about angsty heroes in romance novels. Because there are heroes with so much angst. The kind of angst that makes him feel all the feels. These are my catnip.
But! I recently found myself wanting something to read and not being able to decide on what (as I do). I settled on a book I downloaded during one of Barnes and Noble’s Free Friday giveaways: Still Life With Murder, by P.B. Ryan.
P.B Ryan, by the way, is her mystery books name. Guess what she writes as Patricia Ryan? Romance novels!
This is the first in a series of 6 books. It tells the story of Nell Sweeney, an Irish woman that works as a governess for a little girl that a wealthy family in post-Civil War Boston adopts. The family, the Hewitts, are one of the wealthiest and oldest families in the city. They had four sons, two of which died in the infamous Andersonville prison camp.
Or did they?
Well, one of them did. The other reappears after being accused of murdering a man outside of a gaming hell, which also happens to house an opium den. William Hewitt hid from his family for at least three years after the war, spending his time gambling and feeding an opium addiction.
William’s mother, Viola, has Nell investigate and try to clear Will of the murder charge. Will doesn’t make it easy for Nell to help him. He deals with demons from the war, but also with demons from a difficult childhood.
During one conversation with Nell, William explains that one of the reasons he’s kept away from his family is his guilt over failing to help one of his young brothers. He tells her: “And, too, I saw something of myself in him–those of us with an appetite for sin always recognize it in others–and I didn’t like what I saw.”
This is one tortured man. I love it.
Nell, too, has some angst, but in general she’s a badass. She has to hide her awesome badassery, however, in order to keep the life she’s worked so hard to acquire. Her background is less than genteel–which the whole being-Irish-in-19th-century-Boston tells you–but she’s intelligent and determined.
One of the things I liked most about this book is how it highlights the complexity of women’s lot in life during this time period. At one point, Nell muses about how much she knows that ladies shouldn’t know. Are these women really being protected or are they pretty much prisoners within their fancy homes?
I enjoyed this book immensely. I’ll be checking out her romance books when I’m done with this series.
P.S. As of this writing, the e-book is still available for free both from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.