Rebecca's Reviews > Maids of Misfortune

Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke
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Mar 16, 12

it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery
Read from February 23 to March 13, 2012

Recommended for lovers of mystery, suspense, and romance!

Late in life, I have become a convert to mysteries! I doubt I’ve read two mysteries in my lifetime but am so happy to have given Maids of Misfortune a chance. The author’s attention to detail brings the setting, 1800s San Francisco, to life. The story is unique and kept me engaged throughout. There were no boring interludes, no leaps of logic or holes in believability—every scene led swiftly into the next, and the writing is skillful and visual, with such lines as “She was offering him her hand, her warm brown eyes looking directly at his, her mouth flirting with a smile, her light brown curls capturing the sunlight with a hint of fire.” Suspense scenes (that I must not record here) left me wondering how the protagonist would escape, and kept me reading long into the night.

Then there’s Nate. At first I couldn’t stand him, and, apparently, neither could Annie, Maids of Misfortune’s female protagonist. Nate can arguably be called priggish, judgmental, and rude. Who wants to hear some man tell you that, “I don’t suppose it would do me any good to point out that your attendance at this affair is totally unnecessary and highly irregular?” Pompous. Yes, that is the Nate we are introduced to. Annie has quite a temper, as it turns out, and so does Nate, so they are beautifully at cross-purposes through much of the book.

Every now and then the author adds to the often dark authenticity of the setting when Annie or Nate view the world around them. I found some of this very moving, like, when Nate (in a mask) sparks an old memory of something Annie’s father said. They had witnessed a Mexican bandit being hauled in the back of a cart. Annie, a child, had asked her father what he had done wrong, and he replied, “He has had the misfortune of living past his time and trusting in the honor of Americans. He was trying to take back what we stole from him.”

Another detail I particularly loved and which contributed to the setting were scenes of “servant-hood.” The endless, filthy, demanding, exhausting work, day after day, starting early and ending late. These were vivid and colorful, and surprisingly humorous at times, eliciting full out laughter.

I have always loved reading about what people ate, and there is one memorable scene of a picnic by the sea, complete with buttered buttermilk biscuits, jams, thick slices of cold ham, apple cider, and chocolate cake. Yum!

In closing, I would say this book has nearly everything a reader could want. Interesting settings, intriguing, complex characters, romance, and suspense.
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03/09/2012 page 155
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message 1: by Kenci (new)

Kenci I'll look forward to hearing what you think about this one. I'm currently hooked on the Lady Julia mysteries by Deanna Raybourn, and Goodreads had recommended I try this one too.


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