What We Are Reading!

Christina here with this month's summary of what the Wenches have been reading — and we have read a lot! As always, it's an eclectic selection and hopefully some great suggestions for everyone, but we appreciate your input so please let us know what you'd like to add. We can never have enough book recommendations!

Murder at the Serpentine BridgePatriciaMURDER AT THE SERPENTINE BRIDGE by Andrea Penrose

Another brilliant historical mystery in the Wrexford and Sloane series … Conducted against the pageantry of the 1814 Peace Celebrations in London, the intrepid earl and his artist countess unwind a treasonous plot involving the plans for a revolving pistol every nation wants to lay hands on. So much for celebrating peace! In the process of investigating the murder of the pistol’s inventor, the pair acquire the inventor’s brilliant nephew, Peregrine, as a companion for their own wards Hawk and Raven. I love the ongoing family sagas that continue despite the murder and mayhem in the world beyond their safe walls. The history is impeccable and one can truly imagine the scheming that probably did take place with so many powerful men in one place. Highly recommended!

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Andrea Penrose on Murder at the Serpentine Bridge

Murder at the Serpentine Bridge-smallNicola here, and today I have the huge pleasure of interviewing the Wenches’ own Andrea Penrose about her latest historical mystery. Murder at the Serpentine Bridge is book six in the Wrexford and Sloane series, featuring the irresistible combination of the Earl of Wrexford and Charlotte Sloane aka A J Quill (and now of course Countess of Wrexford.) The book been garnering rave reviews and rightly so – I’ve enjoyed all of the series very much but this one could be my favourite so far! It’s a clever and compulsive mystery, the historical backdrop is fascinating and the cast of characters is as nuanced and interesting as ever – it was great to meet old friends again!

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and find out more!

Gent 4aWhat particularly draws you to writing mysteries set in the Regency period?
I love the era because it was a fabulously interesting time and place. Radical new ideas were clashing with the conventional thinking of the past. People were questioning the fundamentals of society, and as a result they were fomenting changes in every aspect of life. Romanticism was taking hold, bringing a new wave of individual expression. New technology was disrupting everyday life as the Industrial Revolution began cranking into high gear. In so many ways, it was the birth of the modern world, and for me, its challenges, its characters and its conflicts have such relevance to our own times.

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Triggering An Idea for a Mystery!

Duel from English Spy by B Blackmantle ill R Cruikshank1825Andrea here, musing today about the little ah-ha moments that trigger the ideas for my books. "Trigger" is the key word here, for my upcoming release, MURDER AT THE SERPENTINE BRIDGE, (which hits the shelves on Murder at the Serpentine Bridge-smallSeptember 27th) revolves around the missing prototype and technical drawings for a revolutionary new pistol that would give the country who possesses it an overwhelming military advantage. Now, I'm often asked where I get the inspirations for my mysteries. The answer is—from real-life history!

I'm a total history nerd and love exploring esoteric museums, exhibits, libraries, etc for those sudden inspirations which ignite a plot concept. The seed of of my new book was planted several years ago when I saw an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum on the leading gunmakers of Regency London. Joseph Manton, Robert Wogdon—and Durs Egg (you have to love that name!) were the leaders and made a number of striking innovations in designing their firearms.

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June What We’re Reading!

Blood of a GladiatorMary Jo here…

…with the Wenches' ever popular "What we're reading" blog.  Dig out your credit cards, we're going for a joy ride!

I've always known that Jennifer Ashley is a very talented, prolific author who writes historical romances, paranormals, and historical mysteries, but I hadn't found her Leonidas the Gladiator series, written under her Ashley Gardner pseudonym.  So far there are only two novels and a novella, but more are coming.  The first book is Blood of a Gladiator.

Leonidas is the premier gladiator in Rome, a rock star fighter who is recognized in the streets, but he has reached the point where he can't face any more killing.  That is the moment when he receives his freedom from slavery and can finally quit being a gladiator and make his own life–if he can figure out how.

He has no financial resources, but an unknown benefactor gives him a modest apartment and a slave of his own: Cassia, who is a scribe.  Illiterate Leonidas doesn't know what to do with  a slave who does doesn't cook or do housework, but she can help him find jobs and is very good at negotiating contracts and making sure they get paid. 

Initially Cassia is afraid of him, but he's a good guy and doesn't ravish her and gradually they develop a bond of trust.  And have to deal with unexpected murders.  Ashley Gardner creates a wonderful sense of place and what it would be like to live in Rome during the reign of Nero.  But the best part is the characters and their slowing developing relationship. 


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Lady Arianna is back in a Swirl of Shadows

A Swirl of ShadowsAndrea here, welcoming a guest interviewer to the Word Wenches today! C. P. Lesley, a historian, is the author of The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel and two series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible. She also hosts New Books in Historical Fiction, a podcast channel on the New Books Network and interviews historical fiction authors on her website. (You can hear her podcast with me on my latest Wrexford & Sloane mystery, Murder at the Royal Botanic gardens, here. And she has also interviewed Nicola.)

C.P. was kind enough to interview me recently on my new Lady Arianna Regency mystery, A Swirl of Shadows, which released last week, and graciously offered to let me share it here. (As luck would have it, the setting aligns very well with her historical expertise, as you shall soon discover!) So without further ado, here’s some tidbits on Lady Arianna and Saybrook—and their latest adventure!

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