Kristi Grimes

Fans of Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series enjoy tagging along (and snacking along—every book in the series includes a recipe) with heroine Lori Shepherd on all her adventures, from the Colorado mountains to the beaches of New Zealand. But this reader prefers any installment that finds Lori in her beloved English Costwolds. Just as the lanes turn and curve to reveal tranquil scenes such as docile grazing sheep and wildflower-laden meadows, every turn of the page reveals yet another charming glimpse into the sometimes not-so-tranquil lives of the good people of Finch. 

In this 16th installment of Atherton’s delightful series featuring the special relationship between the deceased Aunt Dimity and her niece, devoted amateur sleuth Lori, things are once again looking absolutely unmanageable in the village of Finch. Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree begins when Lori’s father-in-law, William, moves to the village with plans to purchase and raise sheep on a diamond-in-the-rough estate. Through the efforts of skilled restorers, builders and plumbers, the house and grounds begin to come spectacularly together as the life of a beloved villager, Sally Pyne, falls spectacularly apart. While on holiday, Mrs. Pyne had such a marvelous time in Mexico that she forgot herself . . . quite literally. She met a worldly, dashing gentleman and led him to believe she was Lady Pyne in her home country, complete with a sprawling country estate and staff of servants. Instead, Sally is the proprietor of the village tearoom with only her spirited granddaughter Rainey as “the help” —and this mysterious man in on his way to visit her “estate.”

Sally turns to Lori and William for help. Lori, as is ritual, turns to the blue journal tucked neatly on a shelf in her study where she finds wisdom in the words of Aunt Dimity. A clever plan is soon hatched and all could be well again in the sleepy village . . . except for the odd behavior of the servants on William’s estate. Perhaps the original family members themselves have not yet moved out? Looks like Lori and Aunt Dimity have another mystery in Finch.

Cozy and charming as a cup of Earl Grey, Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree is a novel to be savored.

Fans of Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series enjoy tagging along (and snacking along—every book in the series includes a recipe) with heroine Lori Shepherd on all her adventures, from the Colorado mountains to the beaches of New Zealand. But this reader prefers any installment that finds Lori in her beloved English Costwolds. Just as the […]

As I read each of the delightful books in Tasha Alexander's series featuring Lady Emily Ashton, I can't decide which character I would most like to be: the spirited and intellectual Margaret, the regal and self-assured Cecile, or the gracious and lovely Ivy. However, I always go back to the leading lady, Emily.

In A Fatal Waltz, the third book featuring my favorite 19th-century English sleuth (sorry, Holmes, old chap), we find Emily right where we want her—with intrigue swirling around her. I dove into this book fully anticipating Lady Emily to be at the top of her game as a forward-thinking woman testing the boundaries of elite society, to the cheers of some and the horror of others. But a new character leaves Emily reduced to little more than stammers—a beautiful, worldly, sophisticated countess who is close to the affairs surrounding this new mystery . . . and perhaps too close to Emily's fiancé, Colin Hargreaves.

Thrown together with the countess at a house party hosted by the powerful but unpleasant Lord Fortescue, formerly verbose Emily suddenly finds herself searching for a snappy comeback, or any words at all. Then the sudden murder of Lord Fortescue pushes the household and its guests into chaos, and pushes Emily to gather her wits as she launches another controversial investigation. But her dedication to solving this crime has less to do with shocking her peers and more to do with a life-or-death vow to a friend: Ivy's husband, Robert, stands accused. The clues uncovered take Emily from the desolate moors of the English countryside, to London's Berkeley Square, to artists' studios in wintry Vienna. Alexander's descriptions of these places are spot-on, and readers will be equally drawn in by this mental time travel as by her superb storytelling.

Kristi Grimes writes from Birmingham, Alabama.

 

As I read each of the delightful books in Tasha Alexander's series featuring Lady Emily Ashton, I can't decide which character I would most like to be: the spirited and intellectual Margaret, the regal and self-assured Cecile, or the gracious and lovely Ivy. However, I always go back to the leading lady, Emily. In A […]

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