Some Brief Folly

By Patricia Veryan

Although I prefer her two other series to the Sanguinet series, the latter has some excellent books in it, and this is one of them. This title is not technically part of the Sanguinet Saga proper, although it is certainly in the same universe. It does not have the two eponymous villains in it or nor are they even mentioned for that matter. The only conspiracy is a personal one against our hero, Garrett Hawkhurst. What it does have are some brief appearances and mentions of some important characters that float in and out of the 6 book Sanguinet series: Tristram Leith, Harry Redmond, Jeremy Bolster, and Diccon off the top of my head. Hawkhurst and Mia Buchanan are separately both close friends with the same set of players in the series though they themselves have never before met. It is set at the great estate, Dominer, that was the home of the Duke of Marbury 5o or 60 years ago and featured prominently in The Golden Chronicles and its prequel, The Mistress of Willowvale. In that book, The Duke (called Muffin), who is one of the most memorable characters in the series, decided to bequeath Dominer to Kit and Leonie Thorndyke, Lord and Lady Aynesworth, his neighbors and friends due to his love for them and because they do not have an estate of their own to pass on to their own descendants. It’s a long story and that’s enough background. All this history is barely mentioned in this book, although it does provide some interesting context for readers familiar with the doings in The Mistress of Willowvale and The Golden Chronicles.

Euphemia (Mia, thank God) Buchanan, her brother Simon, along with her page, Kent, a former chimney sweep whom Mia rescued, are on their way to their Aunt’s place in Bath for Christmas. They are caught by a landslide while sightseeing on Dominer land and almost killed. Their lives are saved by Garrett “Hawk”(of course) Hawkhurst in an incredible act of bravery and risk to his own life. Simon and Kent are badly injured necessitating staying at Dominer for an extended period of time along with Garrett and his entertaining and eccentric family. Garrett is rumored to have murdered his wife and child some years before and so is shunned and ostracized by London society. It doesn’t take long for Mia, and later, Simon, to realize that he has to have been falsely accused. Indeed, Garrett is the victim of one of the most dastardly plots one can imagine. It is pretty evil, even for Patricia Veryan.

Garrett is a typical Veryan hero: Honorable, devastatingly attractive, falsely accused of something, and too much physical courage for his own good. He’s also too honorable for his own good, for that matter. Mia is one of my favorite heroines. She is beautiful, intelligent, sensible, brave, irreverent, and hilarious. Everyone loves her. The residents of Dominer all have unique personalities that spur the action along and entertain the reader. Among others, there is a dotty accident-prone aunt, a seemingly weak and bullied nephew, a sweet and shy sister, and a cantankerous and intimidating grandfather. There is darkness in this book, indeed, but it is leavened with some of the most comic scenes Veryan has written. And she can really write a comic scene, as well as provide witty banter to spare. She is also a master of thrilling fights, tense chases through the countryside, and dangerous threats and escapades. In this book, instead of her trademark action-packed climax, she has two! And of course, a passionate love story, beautifully developed. Two actually.

The resolution is as joyous as the mental and physical sufferings are harrowing. Just when you think the hero has suffered more than he can bear, Veryan doubles down. This can be very hard on the reader, as by this time we are very invested and anxious for the fates of all concerned. The mind-boggling, if amply foreshadowed, a coincidence that is at the heart of the happy ending can be forgiven. To add to the chaos and tension there is a lovably out-of-control dog, who becomes an unlikely hero at the end and saves the day.**5 stars out of 5**

May 29, 2021

The Riddle of the Shipwrecked Spinster

By Patricia Veryan

I was a bit disappointed in this one. Piers Cranford didn’t have the charm or humor that his twin Perry did. He was very earnest and responsible. His love, Mary, was a little blah as well despite a promising beginning and a reveal that I didn’t see coming.

His estate has come under attack by means of sabotage and dirty tricks driving the Cranford family into severe financial straits. The main plot rests on the fact that his uncle, Sir Nugent, will not help him out with a loan until he rescues the family name by stepping into the breach left by a distant cousin who jilted his fiance. The whole thing is a lot more complicated, but it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense. A lot in this one did not make sense, including why our sensible heroine put herself into a hated enemy’s power necessitating a rescue near the end.

The one thing that I did like was that many of our friends from the previous two series, The Jewelled Man, and The Golden Chronicles, make appearances in this one or are at least mentioned. Some play important roles. It is the only reason why I would recommend it. **3 stars out 4**

This is the last, or should I say latest Patricia Veryan that I have re-read and reviewed. I Probably, at some point, will finish the Riddle series with Deplorable Dandy, but first, I intend to re-read some of the Sanguinet series. I say some because a few of them I did not enjoy at all, but read out of loyalty and to not be left out of some of the connections between her books. Life is too short. If her books were on Kindle, I would read them sooner. Although I treasure my paper books, they are inconvenient to read and I love the features that my paperwhite has. My intention is to start before summer begins.

September 5, 2020

The Riddle of the Reluctant Rake

By Patricia Veryan

“I believe I am innocent, Mama. I cannot prove it. At the moment. But … it would have been nice if one or two of you could have stood by me.”

“Your arm! Oh, mercy, I shall swoon! No – I haven’t the time!”

After reading the first two in her ‘Riddle” series, I was not anxious to read the last two books. I was very disappointed in Jack Vespa’s adventures and kind of thought Patricia had lost her magic. 20 years later, I decided to finish reading all of her books at last (after reading her earlier books several time each.) I am happy to report that #3 in the series largely restores Veryan’s magic in my eyes.

It’s not the best book she ever wrote but it is very good. It contains all of the ingredients Patricia is known for and does so well. A cracking good duel, an exciting ride ventre a terre across the English countryside on a mission of life or death, A maligned and humiliated hero searching to restore his good name, Loyal friends who alone support him, etc. etc. This book, like some of her best, features some good humor, a load of Interesting and amusing characters, a likable love interest, a good who-dun-it and why, and some truly hiss-worthy villains. As always her hero has to hit bottom before things start to look up. This occurs at about the 40% mark, and it is truly painful. Veryan is adept at raising her heroes from near dead in the water before they emerge triumphant. Once Hastings Adair gets some important allies, the book becomes very enjoyable. I can only endure so much pain and frustration!
This book has lots of action and adventure, a nice romance, Political machinations, and many characters that I’d love to meet again but probably won’t in the last two books in the series I have yet to read. Oh, and we have a nice shout out to Camille Damon the hero of one of her first novels, Love’s Duet His story will follow a year later, in 1815. I love the way she ties all of her books together and puts them in the same universe. I know the next book, The Riddle of the Shipwrecked Spinster features at least 2 old friends from the Golden Chronicles, The Cranford Twins. So cool. **4 out of 5 stars**

August 9, 2020

The Mandarin of Mayfair

by Patricia Veryan

***In this last volume of the series many mysteries are revealed. This review contains spoilers but I have included a warning when these parts come up***

The Tales of the Jeweled Man series comes to a rousing, fitting, and satisfying conclusion with the Mandarin of Mayfair. Patricia puts our hero through the usual unbearable torture and suffering and considerable violence before he has finally suffered enough to expiate past wrongs. In this case however, part of the dues he has to pay, at least in the guilty amends he makes to Jamie, is humorous and justified. Veryan ties everything together by reaching back to threads in her first books. 

**Spoiler** Patricia revisits her first book in The Golden ChroniclesPractice to Deceive, to provide the identity of one of the traitorous ruling council. I hope you were paying attention way back 12 books ago! We also have the reappearance of her first hero, Quentin Chandler, up to his usual foolish and reckless tricks. She also brings in happenings in the prequel, The Wagered Widow (one of my favorites), to explain the motivations of another one of traitors. **end spoiler**

This is should be a five star book, but I must take away half a star, because of the unwarranted and controlling (disguised as protective) behavior of August Falcon towards his sister Katrina. His opposition to the sweet relationship between she and Jamie Morris throughout the series is just absurd. Oh, he tells a sad story of his grandmother’s tragic marriage, but it’s not enough justification. His Grandmother’s tragedy has nothing to do with Katrina and Jamie. He refuses to listen to Gwen’s common sense, and it generated feelings of exasperation and even hostility towards him on my part. ”The Smallest Rossiter” says it best: “ Four lives ruined: four chances for happiness shattered, only for the sake of your selfish and foolish would-be nobility!” But he stubbornly insists on guaranteeing the ruination of four lives in order to prevent the dubious possibility of the ruination four lives. Totally nonsensical.

On the other hand, I do honor Patricia for introducing the difficult theme of racism in this series. I like how even in the final scene of triumph in front of King and the elite of England, she shows that the Falcons and their spouses will always have to deal with it. It doesn’t just fade into the background. It remains an issue. His fear of the Ton’s racism and it’s effect on their future happiness also prevents him from proposing to Gwen.

**Spoiler**For some reason, when Gwen finally proposes to him, all doubt and fear is magically wiped away and we have our completely happy ending. I was like, “Huh? Is that all she had to do?.” Should have done that 50 pages ago, Gwen.**end spoiler**

 Of course even if the satisfactory resolution of their romance is a foregone conclusion, I was delighted that Veryan did surprise me with a few happy and unforeseen twists and happenings. One thing for sure: In order to fully appreciate Patricia’s books, they simply must be read in order!

In conclusion, in the immortal words of Jamie Morris, “Tis’ a lazy dog that leans it’s head against the wall to bark.” Never forget that!
Final rating: ****4 1/2 stars****

October 2, 2018

Never Doubt I Love

by Patricia Veryan

I remember not being overly impressed with this one, although I apparently did give it 5 stars. But upon the re-read, it is now one of my favorites. I didn’t remember a whole lot about it so there were plenty of surprises and suspense along the way.

I loved Zoe. She was just such a normal girl. It made me both fear for her and like her all the more. Piers was very lovable as well: What a relief to have an uncomplicated hero. Most of the time for me, a little angst goes a long way. The romance between them was sweet and did have some tension. They went from hostility to friendship in a believable and delightful way. Of course, I knew where it was going but how would true love finally be revealed?
**bit of a spoiler**
The characterization of Clara Buttershaw was just a treat. She goes from comical (Veryan’s version of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and to me, just as brilliant a portrayal) to scary and sinister. The other villainess(s)are not scary or comical, but I viewed them with suspicion and unease from the beginning.

There were plenty of thrills and chills, Suspense, humor, and one of the better romances. Also, the setting stayed put. Sometimes parts of her road adventure novels get a bit tiresome. It barreled to a rousing climax that really paid off. In addition, it had a lot of participation by our beloved continuing heroes and heroines, though I wish Gwen Rossiter had played a role. I am relieved that people in high places are taking Rossiter’s group and their conspiracy theory seriously. It finishes with some loose ends getting tied up, a little tragedy, and an endearing and very romantic proposal. I will be going forward right away to the conclusion of our saga, The Mandarin of Mayfair. I can’t believe I don’t remember who the squire is!**5 out of 5 stars**

Rating: 5 out of 5.

September 27, 2018

A Shadow’s Bliss

by Patricia Veryan

Shadow’s Bliss was the first Patricia Veryan that I read and the one that got me hooked. In re-reading it, I can see why I was so enthralled, even though I came in in the middle of a series. To be honest, looking back, I was kind of mystified as to why I was so captivated when I did not understand the half of what was going on! But I get it now. I was not used to such heart pounding adventure and suspense. Such evil villains and such noble good heroes who suffered so terribly and were so redeemed. It was a revelation. It took me back to the days of my youth with The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Count of Monte Cristo. Of course now, I appreciate the book on a different level. Veryan always puts her heroes through the mill to atone for past sins or, it must be said, sometimes just for the drama. In the reread, which I am finally doing in chronological order, I now appreciate the slow building development of character and relationship of Gwen, August and Jamie and the rest of the crew. When I first read this, I was intrigued by their characters and couldn’t wait to read more, but from the beginning. Parts of the plot entailing the conspiracy which must have mystified me back then, now are adding up to a much anticipated solution and climax.

I also was enthralled with the sheer romance. Oh My Goodness. The tortured, unworthy, and misunderstood hero utterly worshiping the angelic lady of the manor. Her passionate response to his devotion despite the disparity of their stations in life. Such Love and romance. Yes, sometimes it was a bit over the top, But I enjoyed the ride. And the Villains! Could anyone be more evil and contemptible than Hibbard Green(first encountered in Love Alters Not)? Unless it is the good Jennifer’s craven and selfish father? He and her brother are partially redeemed at a the end, but are you kidding me? Could any hero be more strong, noble and heroic than “the village idiot,” our Jack? As I read more Veryans the answer turned out to be yes. As noble but not more noble.

Now that I read this with the whole story in perspective I can only wonder at Patricia Veryan’s command of all of the threads in her extended story from the Golden Chronicles to the Jeweled Man and even on to the Sanguinet series. She must have been a genius at outlining and organization. That’s all there is to it.

I wish I could end it at that, but to be frank, one aspect that really did jar me was how Jack did not remember his own twin sons until the last bit. He was all about his father, and had glimpses of memory of the shipwreck, but did not even remember that he was a father until the last of the fog had finally cleared? In my opinion, especially considering the large part the boys played in Ask Me No Questions, Veryan should have had some memories peek through of his boys. **5 out of 5 stars**

Rating: 5 out of 5.

September 27, 2018

Ask Me No Questions

by Patricia Veryan

I bumped this up a star since my first read. Reading these in order has really added to my appreciation the all of the novels, for the most part. I save my 3 star ratings for Veryans that really were not up to snuff. And this was quite good. I remember thinking Gordon was a bit of a stick in the mud, but this was not my impression this time around. Ruth was still a little mild and fairly unremarkable despite the fact that she had an unusual background and an actual profession. She has had to make her own way in the world after the death of her father and the disappearance of her widowed sea captain brother whose two sons she is caring for. But I liked her. I liked the progression of the Jeweled Man mystery and the appearances of our continuing characters: August Falcon, Jamie, Gwen, and Katrina. This was not as humorous as some of the entries, and the adventure and danger didn’t seem quite as urgent or threatening. But frankly this was a relief. Veryan can really put her characters (and her readers) through the mill. Gordon’s entanglement with the evil Nadia was fairly short lived, thanks to August Falcon setting her up to show her true colors. After she snared him again, she let him go again with scarcely a fight.  Although this might be counted as a flaw by some, after some of the nail-bitingly painful relationship problems some of our previous heroes had to go through, this was a plus for me. The set up to the next in the series, my personal sentimental favorite and the first Veryan I ever read, A Shadow’s Bliss, has me strongly anticipating it. I am pretty sure it will live up to my memories. **4 stars out of 5**

Rating: 4 out of 5.

August 7, 2018

Had We Never Loved

by Patricia Veryan

This was never one of my favorites and had I not been on a mission to read all of the Veryans in Chronological order, I probably would not have re-read it. I was never that enthralled with Tio Glendenning or Amy Consett and I pretty much skipped through the parts with them together. I did enjoy the parts with Falcon and Jamie. The ride to the coast was nail-biting. Veryan really knows how to write exciting action scenes whether it is a duel, or a chase, or a showdown between the forces of good and evil. One of the things I remembered about this one was the tense scene at the Bowers-Malden estate when they thought they could not produce the Comyn pin which would prove the family innocent of treason. It just was not as good as I remembered! Nothing as good as the confrontation scene in Practice to Deceive and the courtroom scene in Love Alters not. I thought Amy running away at the end and then returning was dumb pointless other than to torture poor Tio (as if he needed to go through anymore misery.) I really could not overlook the fact that Tio Glendenning fought for the Jacobite cause and became involved in the lists and treasure and then came home which put the lives and reputation of his family at great risk. Not to mention his good friends (see Love Alters Not). And then all he can do is feel terrible and say he is sorry he never meant it. He is far from the only Jacobite in Veryan’s series’ but it was different with them. They had the decency to be Scottish, or to run away to France to protect their families. Well, we’ll just draw a veil over this one. 3 stars for Tio’s Dad, his stepmother, the brief appearances of Falcon and Jamie, the ride to Dover, the appearance of Hilary Broadbent, Amy saving the day, and leading to the next one in this superb series. **3 stars out of 5**

June 3, 2018

Time’s Fool

by Patricia Veryan

***some spoilers if you’ve never read a romance***Time’s Fool, is an excellent beginning to Patricia Veryan’s second series of action/mystery/historical romances. Taking place 2 or 3 years after The Golden Chronicles, this series involves some of our old friends from the first series and introduces some intriguing new additions. We briefly catch up with Tio Glendenning, Dimity and Piers Cranford and her husband Tony, and Gordon Chandler, to name a few. We are introduced to some very promising new additions: Gwen Rossiter, The Falcons, and Jamie Morris.

Who could not love Gwen right at the outset? She tells her friend Naomi, our heroine, that she is so forthright and frank because she feels she doesn’t need to guard her tongue since no one would want to marry a cripple anyway. Then the gentle sweet girl proceeds to rattle and thwart the hot tempered and intimidating August Falcon. August is an intriguing piece of work. Veryan catches our interest right at the beginning by telling us that he is a half caste and not accepted by most of society due to his heritage. Yet he is rich, handsome and formidable. He is respected, and even feared. We are told he has the instincts of a scorpion. She then proceeds to put him in one comical situation after another which reveals that he is more than a one dimensional cardboard character. His nemesis, Jamie Morris, falls head over heels at first sight with August’s beautiful and reserved sister, Katrina, who is totally uninterested in this apparent “booberkin.” Quite simply, Jamie is a joy and a delight who amuses every time he opens his mouth. As does Tummett, Gideon’s “valet”. The slang and cant that comes out of these two characters mouths is hilarious. Patricia Veryan really amazes with her comical dialogue in this novel.

Gideon Rossiter and Naomi, the two principals in this novel are a little problematical and probably why I wasn’t all that fond of this one when I first read it. On this go round I liked them right away. Their antipathy towards each other at first set up the inevitable reconciliation to look forward to. They played off and fenced with each other very effectively. Some of their insults and wisecracks were pretty deadly. I loved the way Gideon found his pride and told off and stood up to Naomi. I loved Naomi’s bratty ripostes. When she somehow she found herself trapped awkwardly on a balcony and lost her shoe she really won me over. That scene, and several others in which she found herself in a pickle, as well as her friendship with Gwen and Katrina, and her treatment at the hands of her father, gained my sympathy and admiration, when otherwise I would have found her boring and two dimensional. I hated the way Gideon’s father, Sir Mark, treated him compared to his evil twin, Newby. He was so blind throughout, it was maddening. Gideon was so very long suffering and noble, it was a little over the top. But our author leavens his heroism with humor, some good confrontations with really despicable characters and legit derring do. Unfortunately, once Naomi and Gideon finally understood each other and reconciled, they were so besotted with each other, it was just a bit too much and verged on the cloying.

This first of the The Tales of the Jeweled Men sets up an intriguing mystery and conspiracy and starts to put the various players, both major and minor, in place for future appearances and their roles. All is far from resolved. We don’t understand what is going on at first, or the motivations. This will be revealed in the books to come.**4 out of 5 stars**

May 11, 2018

The Dedicated Villain

by Patricia Veryan

Upon finishing The Dedicated Villain, the last of the Golden Chronicles, I bumped my 3 star rating up to 4. I liked Fiona much better this go around and I now see her as a worthy match for Roly. Of all of the pairs throughout this series, I really believe that Fiona’s and Roly’s romance is the strongest. Their love and devotion for each other was the most fully realized. Patricia did right by Roly’s full reclamation.

I did find some parts to be too drawn out and tedious, but as soon as I started to consider speed-reading through, I would come to a good part that induced me to keep reading. This one did not have too many scenes of the rollicking humor that is in most of the previous books, but in fairness the stakes were too high. Although the action scenes were masterfully done, they were a bit long. Also I was very confused by the race across the Sands of Dee to take the treasure to the barge. Yet when they got back, the treasure was still on land in the caravans. I was like… Huh?! Apparently they only took half of it. I was not clear about this and I don’t think it was my fault. Some of the quieter scenes with Fiona and Roly did not hold my interest as much as some of the previous love stories. There was never any conflict between the two. Fiona worshipped the ground he walked on from the very beginning, and Roly was always respectful and fond of her. Conflict is a great source of humor, suspense, witty banter, and satisfying Ah Ha! Moments. One more quibble: During and after his recovery, Roly was a little too much of an angel. I could have done with a few signs of his former roguery. My goodness, he seemed to cry quite a bit! I am uncomfortable pitying my heroes.

Some Highlights:
Roly’s discovery and actions concerning William Bond and the list.
Thad Briley’s major role and his happy ending. Same with Robert MacTavish.
The scene at home in Wales with Rosamunde, Robert and company.
The referrals and reappearances of many, if not all, of our favorite characters from previous books.
Even Mariner Fotheringay! Kit and Leone Aynsworth!
The fact that Freemon Torrey mended his ways but did not turn into a hero. When I first started re-reading I thought I remembered him being an annoying jerk throughout and even involved in
Roland’s torture. Glad I was wrong.
I was moved to tears several times during Roly’s recovery at Dominer.
When and how Muffin learns the whole truth about his son. Although really, he should not have been so blind to evil Dudley’s treatment of his grandson.
The wedding scene and the descriptions of Roly’s white velvet suit trimmed in black and his diamond studded eyepatch. Ka-ching! One of the reasons I liked this description is that it showed Roly had regained some of his old dash and personality even though he was fully converted from villain to hero.

Regardless of some weak areas, as always, PV’s mastery of her characters, fights and action scenes, plotting, and how she weaves it all together throughout the series just fills me with awe. **4 out of 5 stars**

May 6, 2018