Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens by Andrea Penrose
Narrator: James Cameron Stewart
Series: Wrexford & Sloane #5
Published by Tantor Audio on September 28, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Length: 11 hours, 59 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble
One advantage of being caught up in a whirl of dress fittings and decisions about flower arrangements and breakfast menus is that Charlotte Sloane has little time for any pre-wedding qualms. Her love for Wrexford isn't in question. But will being a wife--and a Countess--make it difficult for her to maintain her independence--not to mention, her secret identity as famed satirical artist A.J. Quill?
Despite those concerns, there are soon even more urgent matters to attend to during Charlotte and Wrexford's first public outing as an engaged couple. At a symposium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a visiting botanist suffers a fatal collapse. The traces of white powder near his mouth reveal the dark truth--he was murdered. Drawn into the investigation, Charlotte and the Earl learn of the victim's involvement in a momentous medical discovery. With fame and immense fortune at stake, there's no shortage of suspects, including some whose ruthlessness is already known. But neither Charlotte nor her husband-to-be can realize how close the danger is about to get--or to what lengths this villain is prepared to go...
I had purchased the first two books in the Wrexford & Sloane series on audio. I wanted to get started on reading them so I decided to read them all in September for my #ReadASeriesinaMonth for COYER. Then I saw the third book on sale as an ebook and bought it. Right after I decided, feeling good about four books to read, I discovered this fifth book, Murder at the Royal Botanical Garden would be released September 28th within the month. So I requested an ARC to review it too.
When I started the first book, I wasn’t sure but luckily I began to enjoy it pretty quickly. There are a few spoilerish bits here since this is the fifth book. Sloane is Lady Charlotte who has many secrets. She has returned from Italy in the past year and her husband died, leaving her a widow. To support herself, she continues her husband’s work of sketching satirical cartoons as AJ Quill, for the papers. Her targets are often the aristocracy and spotlight dishonesty and corruption, or even murder. If she is outed, she would lose her only income. Her current target is the Earl of Wrexford.
Wrexford is a man of science, very knowledgeable about chemistry and other aspects. He is known as an individualist, making his own choices rather than following the crowd. His valet, Tyler, often works with him on the scientific work. When he is suspected of murder, they discover who AJ Quill is and set about with her to solve who actually committed the murder. Thus begins a series of adventures where they build their allies, their trust and become very close.
The mysteries are the focus, but the story arcs are layered with some romance, and social justice type themes. The author also is including political and scientific events which happened during the time periods, so it has a realistic quality I enjoyed. I loved both the science and the various political and machinations of the aristocracy to have their way. The group of allies works hard and risks themselves to seek justice and fairness.
The band of misfits grows over the series. Sloane has two street boys she is sheltering, Raven and Hawk, who know everyone on the streets worth knowing. Wrexford has a friend who is a younger son, Sheffield. They develop some good friends in Henning who is a coroner, and a Bow Street Runner, Griffin, who can be trusted. We meet more of Sloane’s estranged family and other scientific friends of Wrexford.
I highly recommend this series. Murder at the Royal Botanical Gardens is terrific as so much comes together; it might be a series ender, but I hope not. I would love more investigations by this tight-knit made family and friends.
I don’t believe I had listened to this narrator before the series but I am thrilled with his performance. The characters are quite distinct, both males and females. I loved the emotional edge to the tones. I listened well at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to the clip: HERE
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