by Holly West
Published by: Carina Press
Isabel, Lady Wilde, mistress of King Charles II, has made a good living disguised as fortune teller Mistress Ruby, counseling London’s elite. But after the murder of one of her customers, business has taken a downturn, and Isabel is on the verge of accepting the king’s offer to move into the palace.
Isabel’s plans are interrupted when a beggar girl named Susanna shows up at her home, claiming to be her niece. Isabel always believed that her older brother, Adam, died alone during the plague. When Susanna reveals that Adam was actually murdered, Isabel is compelled to take up an impossible task: discover the truth about her brother’s death, twelve years after it happened.
Isabel’s investigation leads her through the gamut of London society, from bear-baiting matches and brothels to the realm of wealthy bankers. But as she uncovers her brother’s dark secrets, Isabel begins to wonder whether the past is better left buried, especially when uncovering the truth could lead to her own funeral.
My Rating: ★★★★★
Lady Isabel Wilde was infamous for being one of King Charles’ mistresses in London. What the people didn’t know about her, however, was that she had another identity that enabled her to know their deepest and darkest secrets. She disguised herself as Mistress Ruby, a soothsayer/psychic/fortune-teller at night. One day, a little girl named Susanna Barber stepped on her threshold and told her that she was her long-lost niece, the daughter of her dead brother Adam. Isabel learned from her niece that she came from America after her mother died, and declared that her father Adam did not die because of plague, but because he was murdered. This piece of information distraught Isabel, and so she began investigating her brother’s death. However, things turned nasty and complicated when Susanna escaped and was soon seen collaborating with a crook. Although Isabel had doubts about the authenticity of Susanna’s story, she soon unraveled a mystery that would eventually destroy the reputation of his own brother and the woman who bore his child.
This is the second book in the Mistress of Fortune series. This is a totally new experience for me, reading a Holly West story since I haven’t read any of her books, but I’m glad to say that I enjoyed Mistress of Lies immensely. Although I had no idea of Lady Isabel Wilde’s past, how she became one of the King’s mistresses and all that, the second book provided enough information about her so I didn’t feel I was deprived or I’ve missed out a lot. I was impressed by West’s writing as it was detailed and engaging.
Mistress of Lies is a really promising book, with a protagonist hell bent on taking the matters into her hands, just to be able to learn the whole truth. Not only did it tackle stories about the plague and consumption, love and family, the book also took on the subjects of whorehouse entities as well as goldsmithing. I also loved that this wasn’t a love story of sorts, but it’s more of a story full of intrigue and mystery, gritty and action-packed. This is the kind of genre many people enjoy including me. A highly recommended read!
NOTE: I was provided a a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Holly West is a crime fiction writer based in Los Angeles. She also writes hard-boiled historical mysteries set in 17th century London. She’s the author of the Mistress of Fortune series, set in late 17th London and featuring amateur sleuth Isabel Wilde, a mistress to King Charles II who secretly makes her living as a fortuneteller. The first in the series, Mistress of Fortune, was published by Harlequin’s Carina Press in February 2014 and its sequel, Mistress of Lies, is forthcoming in Fall 2014. Find her online at hollywest.com.