An orphan in Victorian London. The possibilities are endless. In Y.S. Lee’s debut novel, we meet Mary Quinn. After being sentenced to hang, twelve-year-old Mary is whisked away by a prison guard, sparing her from the gallows. Her savior is really Anne Treleaven, mistress of Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. Mary is welcomed and given an education befitting a proper lady. Upon graduation, Anne reveals the school is really a front for The Agency, an all-female detective group. Now seventeen, Mary joins their ranks.
Her first assignment is to infiltrate the household of the Thorold family, rich merchants. While posing as paid companion to the daughter Angela, Mary attempts to discover what happened to Thorold’s missing cargo ships. While undercover she encounters James Easton, brother to Angela’s fiancé. He is also snooping around, trying to find cause for his brother not to marry. Mary discovers everyone has secrets. She even has some of her own.
I am happy to say I have a new favorite series. A lover of Victoriana and mysteries, The Agency is right up my alley. Mary Quinn is a charming character; smart and spunky. There is just the right amount of drama, mystery and romance to appeal to any reader. Fans of period fiction will love Lee’s descriptions of 1850’s London, “Great Stink” and all. I am pleased to announce the second and third books, The Body at the Tower and The Traitor in the Tunnel are already on the shelf and eagerly await reading.
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“What if Jane Eyre worked for a rock star?”
Jane Moore is orphaned by the death of her parents. Left with no alternative, she drops out of college and begins job hunting. Her travels take her to a nanny service that matches her with a client. Jane is probably the only person not thrown by the name Nico Rathburn. He is a world famous rock star who coincidentally needs a nanny for his daughter. So off to Thornfield Park in Connecticut she goes. Here Jane is introduced to a world unlike any she’s ever known. Rambling around a huge mansion and grounds, Jane tries to assimilate to her new life. Maddy, minus a famous French mom, immediately takes to Jane.
Just like her nineteenth century counterpart, our Jane doesn’t meet Rochester, I mean Rathburn, at first. He is mysterious and brooding, yet simple and kind. Jane is not thrilled by his rock star status, and this intrigues him. Nico insists on Jane’s presence during his parties and practices, but never fully exposing his true self.
Through Jane’s simplicity and honesty, Nico relies on her to assist him during precarious situations. If you remember the original, you’ll be waiting for the mysterious woman in the attic. Well, she’s here too. Grace Poole is now Brenda, keeping watch over a deep, dark secret. Just when Nico and Jane’s love blossoms, this secret from Nico’s past comes back to stand in their way.
Jane flees Rathburn and Maddy, reverting to a simplified existence in New Haven. Here she meets the St. John siblings. Just as in the original, this is my least favorite part but Lindner manages to make Jane’s sidetrack more palatable that Bronte’s. I was actually engaged with these characters rather than skipping over these chapters.
So same ending you ask? Will Jane and Rathburn live happily ever after at Thornfield Park? You’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Sure I’ll admit I had low expectations upon cracking the cover. Seriously, how can you improve on a classic? I stand corrected. Any doubts evaporated once I began reading. Bravo April Lindner! I was totally blown away by a fantastic update of the classic Jane Eyre. For those of you that are not familiar with the original by Charlotte Bronte, I urge you to pick that up first. For those of you, like me, that have loved Jane Eyre and pictured yourself walking the halls of Thornfield Manor, Jane is a welcomed companion. Look for Catherine, Lindner’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
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