MINI-REVIEW: Tasha Alexander’s THE ADVENTURESS

AdventuressMiss Bates is familiar with Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily mystery series. She read the first few, And Only To Deceive, A Poisoned Season, maybe A Fatal Waltz. The Adventuress is tenth (!) in the series and Alexander’s tried-and-true formula is evident. Reminiscent of Raybourn’s Lady Julia series, Alexander’s series introduces a widowed, precocious Victorian lady-sleuth who finds love and romance and displays her sharp sleuthing skills with each novel. Miss Bates abandoned both Victorian “Ladies” because of romance dearth, despite dashing heroes. This tenth novel finds Emily at the French Riviera with beloved agent-for-the-Crown husband and sleuthing partner, Colin Hargreaves, celebrating the engagement of best friend Jeremy Sheffield, Duke of Bainbridge, to American heiress, the eponymous “adventuress,” Amity Wells. Jeremy, Emily, and Colin are part of quite a party: Amity’s crass parents; peevish, unsavory brother Augustus; Margaret and Cécile, Emily’s friends; Jack, Jeremy’s brother; Cristabel, Amity’s friend; and, Misters Neville and Fairchild, Jeremy’s bosom pals. Amidst luxury hotels stays, celebratory dinners, and site-seeing, murder mystery arrives when Mr. Neville is found, an apparent suicide, in Jeremy’s room. Emily soon suspects more nefarious reasons for Mr. Neville’s death. Was Chauncey Neville the murderer’s target, or was the poisoned whiskey meant for Jeremy? 

Miss Bates took a whole week to slog through Alexander’s murder mystery. Picture her in a variety of desultory poses on her reading couch, frowning, scowling, sighing, or eye-rolling. She is done with Lady Emily and her stiff-for-the-proprieties Colin. Miss Bates is not a fan of first-person narration (though she forgives Charlotte Brontë, Mary Stewart, Susanna Kearsley, and Simone St. James for using it. Because LOVE). First-person narration is not The Adventuress‘s sin: it is garbled, however, by frequent mid-chapter forays into third-person narration that follow Amity’s POV and make for a disjointed narrative. Miss Bates couldn’t figure out hide nor hair for this, but it could also follow that Miss Bates is dense.

Even the peculiar dissonance of narrative perspectives could’ve been overlooked were it not, says Miss B., for odious characters. Amity Wells is a spoiled bitch and no one calls her on it. The English characters, such as Emily and Colin, treat her with a stiff, indulgent politeness, or slavishly trip over themselves to apologize to her for every perceived slight. Jeremy is a great big DOOB. Most of the time, Emily, Colin, BFs included, are rich people being catty together. Moreover, Miss Bates figured out the solution to the mystery by chapter five. On a suspense level, The Adventuress is meh. Miss Bates’ favourite moment came when Birdie, Amity’s mother, slapped her. The writing was clear, but uninspired; the dialogue, wooden. However, Miss Bates liked the setting quite a bit, so reading it wasn’t a total loss. Miss Bates has no doubt The Adventuress has its fans and Lady Emily her followers. Nevertheless, Miss Bates will say with Canadian politeness and in company with her alter ego, Jane Austen, “it had a high claim to forbearance,” Emma.

Tasha Alexander’s The Adventuress is published by Minotaur Books. It was released on October 13th, 2016, and fans of the series may find it at their preferred vendors. Miss Bates received an e-ARC from Minotaur Books, via Netgalley.

6 thoughts on “MINI-REVIEW: Tasha Alexander’s THE ADVENTURESS

  1. I am a long time fan of the series(have read all the books) and had exactly the same reaction to this book as you did. I do believe the format of the story–present scene alternating with flashback chapters featuring Amity–was a major flaw. There was no real flow to the story. It didn’t help matters that I didn’t find Amity even remotely interesting. I am also soooo tired of American heiresses out to nab a titled gentleman. Let’s give that trope a rest, shall we…It is a shame that you chose this book to reconnect with Lady Emily and Colin.
    I think what keeps me reading is the look at a marriage between two emotional mature adults and how they develop a real partnership in their investigations. Though this book failed for me, I already have her next on my ‘wish list’. It will take several duds in a row for me to abandon Lady Emily.

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    • I’m so heartened by your comment and I trust your opinion. So, I might, just might, give them another try. I was surprised; though I found the dearth of romance distancing in the previous books I read, I liked Emily and Colin, but in this case … I didn’t. :-/

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      • Miss Bates
        Thank you for the kind words. May I suggest that if you want to re-connect with Lady Emily and the hunky Colin, you should try the 5th in the series “Dangerous to Know” or #6 ‘A Crimson Warning’.

        This series is becoming a straight mystery series with a touch of romance–which is perfectly acceptable to me. My only requirement in reading this sort of series is that the author does NOT kill off the Significant Other of the main character. (I have dumped any number of authors over this–just saying,,,) I doubt that Ms Alexander would ever pull that stunt–she seems to be heading into Anne Perry territory (long running series featuring a married couple), but without the politics that Perry delights in.

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        • You’re welcome. I speak truth. 🙂

          I think I might have at least one of those two titles in the TBR. Yes, I know that Monk Perry series: I read quite a few of them in my only-mystery reading years. I don’t like the straight mystery: I like those romantic elements books the best. No, I agree: I don’t think Colin will go the way of the dodo. There’s some token canoodling between Colin and Emily, but really quite in passing canoodling.

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  2. I enjoyed the Lady Julia books for the most part, so last year I thought I’d give Lady Emily a try and listened to the audiobook of the first in the series. It didn’t do anything for me (even though it was excellently narrated). I didn’t like Emily, which didn’t help, and I found the story rather dull. The romance was too low key. I know these are predominantly mysteries with romance on the side, but this romance was so far on the side it fell off the plate!

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    • Yes! I enjoyed them too initially, the rom was so low-key, it was SILENT!! I think that Alexander actually “gets” the Victorian mores better than Raybourn, but Raybourn is a better writer (though initially overblown; her Veronica Speedwell rocked my last year). There’s something quite flat about the Alexander books and it’s not JUST the romance lack. The characters don’t come alive and … well, that’s it, they’re not terribly likable and I don’t get their motivations. Because I don’t have to like a character to be fascinated by them … but I DO have to find her compelling. So so so glad it’s not only moi. Thanks for the comment! 🙂 Phew.

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