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A man drained of blood.
A sartorial crisis.
The greatest challenge Rory and Longinus have ever faced.

Longinus is besides himself. Someone has bought all the black silk in Damsport, so he has to make do with grey. Unacceptable, given that an assassin in grey is as ridiculous as a bulldog in culottes.

Conspiracies don’t get more dire than this.

Of course, there’s also the fact that Rory’s oldest friend has been found drained of his blood. And that clues seem to indicate that Myran has returned just as an important diplomat visits Damsport.

Those clues take Rory and Longinus to a new brothel in town called the Black Orchid. That it’s decked in black silk proves that something nefarious is going on.
That its clientele tends to disappear is mere confirmation of that fact.

What is going on behind the brothel’s gilded doors? And more importantly, can Longinus get to their supply of silk?

344 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 9, 2016

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About the author

Celine Jeanjean

28 books157 followers
Celine Jeanjean is French, grew up in the UK and now she travels the world as a nomadic writer. That makes her a tad confused about where she is from. During her travels she's watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat, lost her shoes in Vietnam, and fallen off a bamboo raft in China.

Celine writes stories that feature quirky characters and misfits, set in wondrous worlds.

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5 stars
135 (42%)
4 stars
125 (39%)
3 stars
49 (15%)
2 stars
7 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
Profile Image for Jessie Stevens.
Author 2 books5 followers
April 27, 2016
Reviewing a sequel is always a little bit challenging. I’ve begun to think of it as advice on if it’s worth it to start reading the first book of the series.

In this case the answer is yes.

You’ve got to start with The Bloodless Assassin (previously title The Viper and the Urchin) where you will meet the assassin that reminds me of Eyore and the street urchin who teams up with him.

And then, for sure, you’ve got to continue on to The Black Orchid.

Hands down my favorite part of these books is the characters. In the first book it was the witty dialogue between the two. In this sequel the focus shifted away from the dialogue (don’t worry it was all still fun and fantastic) and onto some major character development. I won’t spoil anything with details but let’s just say things have changed quite a bit and watching the two main characters adjust to their new position in life is to watch some great writing at work!

Would I recommend it?
Yup. Yup. Yup! Just don’t forget you need to start with The Bloodless Assassin to make the story even more enjoyable! And then please keep reading because I think this one might be even better than the first!
Profile Image for Sara Snider.
Author 5 books35 followers
August 24, 2016
For some reason I’ve been finding it difficult to put my thoughts into words about this book beyond, “It’s awesome, go read it.” Maybe because it feels like I’ve already written pretty much everything I want to in my review for the first book in the series, The Bloodless Assassin (previously titled The Viper and the Urchin). All the wonderful things in that book definitely apply here. Honestly, I really didn’t have that many expectations for The Black Orchid other than more Rory and Longinus goodness. And this book delivered on that. It delivered big time.

I think one of the things I like most about this book is we get to know Rory a little better. I mean, I liked her in the first book and all, but Longinus pretty much stole the show for me on that one. In The Black Orchid, Longinus is still awesome, but Rory has more of a presence and we get to see how she’s beginning to grow as a person, and the struggles she faces because of it.

For me, this series of books is all about the characters. I care about them in a way that few books can get me to care about fictional creations. And it’s hard to pinpoint why, exactly. I think it’s a combination of unique believability—all the characters are very different from each other—and just the right blend of witty snarkiness to emotional vulnerability. Honestly, the plot (and it’s a good one) is just a glorious bonus that allows me to spend more time with these wonderfully quirky people and their misadventures. I can’t wait to see what trouble they get into next, and I can’t wait to go along for the ride.

**Many thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review**

Profile Image for Brit Andrews.
278 reviews17 followers
January 28, 2020
In the wake of the events of the first book Longinus and Rory are no longer assassins but now they are in the employ of the Marchioness. Mostly to keep an eye on them and so that they can be of use to her. Things are changing for the duo and they have been left under the care of Cruikshank. Loving in her workshop isn’t much fun for any of them but they have no choice. Until a problem a rises that requires their special set of skills...

People are disappearing and something odd is happening in Dampsport. And most pressing of all is that Longinus can’t get his hands on any black silk it’s and his wardrobe is in crisis.

Among those missing are friends of Rory’s from the rookery so she’s taking it personally. Far too often people think they can discard and use the poor as they see fit without any consequences. Not on Rory’s watch. She’s determined to get to the bottom of this. While this mystery is unfolding the arrival of a woman from the Marchioness’s past arrives.... Mizria Ajmad former consort you the Marchioness who was long believed dead after she went missing on a diplomatic trip years ago. She has returned with a story about losing her memory and only having recently found her way back to Dampsport. It becomes immediately obvious though that her presence is a bit of a distraction for the Marchioness which leads to a bit of an information tug of war between her and Lady Martha.

The people of the Rookery of course aren’t going to cooperate with an investigation but luckily Rory is one of their own so she gets more information than anyone the Marchioness sent ever could. The connection she finds between the missing men is a new establishment called The Black Orchid. A place as exclusive as it is mysterious. In her efforts to gain access and information Rory must do something she is very much against... dress up like a girl. The horror.

Enemies old and new lurk about in the shadows and a betrayal nearly proves fatal. Longinus and Rory have to overcome insecurities about their working relationship and come together using all their combined skills to save the day and prevent a huge catastrophe.

I love Rory and Longinus they are just two lonely souls that found each other but over the course of this book have to learn to trust each other. Both feel rather adrift forced into this new situation but they eventually get things together and resolve things with their usual dramatic flare. Which leads them to their next adventure/mission which takes both them, Cruikshank, Rafe and Adelma (Rory’s old friend who helped with their mission and was also a victim of it) out of Dampsport.
Profile Image for Sarah Zama.
Author 7 books45 followers
August 20, 2016
The second book in The Viper and the Urchin trilogy picks up where the first left off. At the beginning of the story, Rosy and Longinus are in the service of the Marchioness, in theory ready to help her against her enemies, but practically sitting around waiting for something to happen.
When something does happen, it doesn’t come from the Marchioness. Rory accidentally learns of people turning up exanguineted in the streets, and a few of them are her former friends. She needs to know what happened to them and Longinus also wants to know what happened, since the murder is using one of his potions.
It would look like they have the same purpose in mind. In fact, they progressively get far away from each other, especially because Rory, thrown in the shining life of the Marchioness’s palace, ends up fighting to remain herself in a moment when she, her body and her minds are deeply changing.

On the surface, The Black Orchid is a mystery with very definite political plots woven into it, but at its very heart it is the coming-of-age story of a girl that finds herself in a place that might not be hers, no matter how charming it looks.
I enjoyed both sides of the story very much, though Rory coming-of-age was particularly endearing. She’s a very human character, with a lot of flaws and a lot of qualities that get very mixed up during this story.

Damsport becomes even more vivid as a city in this novel. The places, the picturesque people, the history. And it’s quite clear that a plot is boiling in the shadows and I can’t wait to see what it is.

I have to confess I loved this book even more than I did the first. Can’t wait for the final one to come out.
Profile Image for Frank Bertino.
1,521 reviews9 followers
October 2, 2019
Secret Labs, Brothels, And Conspiracies, Oh My

Rory is getting better at sword fighting under Longinus's tutelage. She discovers that some of her friends have been killed in mysterious ways. Many other puzzling things are happening. Is what is going on a threat to the Marchioness and the city? I like the action, humor, and touch of romance. The characters are very well done. I feel like they are friends. I look forward to the next book.
Profile Image for Emily Wrayburn.
Author 5 books40 followers
January 24, 2019
Review originally posted on A Keyboard and an Open Mind April 8, 2016:

(Thank you to Celine Jeanjean for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).

After having such a bad experience with the last book I read, I was so glad that I had a copy of the Black Orchid on my Kindle that I could move straight onto. I knew that being back with Rory and Longinus would bring a smile to my face, and I was not disappointed.

This book picks up a couple of months after the first book. Rory and Longinus are now in the Marchioness’ employ, though so far, she hasn’t had them do anything. When she asks them to investigate the death of man in the Rookery, found exsanguinated, their digging leads them a new brothel, The Black Orchid, and a smuggling ring whose existence makes no sense. When they are framed for the death of an important diplomat’s bodyguard, the race is on to find out exactly who is behind the mysterious disappearances and deaths, before they both end up in prison.

Once again, I can’t decide whether it’s the characters or the world-building that are the highlight. Both are so well-drawn. . Longinus needs all the hugs; while is coping with his most recent confrontation with his sister, Myran, his issues aren’t entirely gone, and there are times in this book when Rory unintentionally exacerbates them (hence him needing the hugs). I really loved the little detail of him saying Myran’s name a few times every day, to ensure his stutter is kept in check. Rory is torn between wanting to make something of herself and leaving behind her urchin identity, which is the only identity she’s ever known. This is partially due to Rafe, who also makes some more appearances in this one, and is now firmly established as Rory’s love interest. We learned a few things about him in this book, too, and I look forward to that being explored further.

And I have to say, I love Damsport. We got to see a few more of the districts within this thriving city, and learned more about how it operates. Jeanjean’s descriptions are wonderful; I want to run along the rooftops with Rory or drink butterscotch coffee in Susie’s Coffeehouse with Longinus. Even though I’m a complete klutz who would slip on the first uneven tile and I generally don’t drink coffee at all, I still want to. The whole place is just cozy and comforting to read about, even with the rough around the edges aspects. In the next book, our favourite characters are going to be traveling out of Damsport, and I can’t wait to see what locations they visit and how those are brought to life.

Overall, I honestly can’t recommend this series enough! Get to it!
158 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2022
~Another grand adventure
~This is the second book in The Viper and the Urchin series. The book starts off on a rather silly premise…someone has bought up all the black silk in the city and no self-respecting master assassin would be caught dead in anything but black. Dark gray is barely an acceptable substitute. Thus, the search is on to discover what has happened to shiploads of black silk fabric. All of which leads to much more sinister doings in the city, even reaching throughout the entire county.
~Now working for the government has it benefits as well as restrictions…all of which Rory and Longinus take in stride.
~The author, Celine Jeanjean, does an excellent job of continuing to develop the main characters, filling in some details of their backstory, without turning the entire book into some sort of prequel.
~Several of the satellite characters in the original book are given a great role in this storyline and become important individuals.
~After having read the first book, “The Bloodless Assassin”, I’d recommend this one also.
Profile Image for Barb Taub.
Author 9 books62 followers
April 17, 2016
As I read The Black Orchid, Book 2 of Celine Jeanjean’s The Viper and the Urchin Series, I was thinking again about those three sliding variants of character development—competence, proactivity, and sympathy. In my review of her first book, The Bloodless Assassin (formerly titled The Viper and the Urchin), I talked about how those markers moved over the course of the book.

It was fascinating to see how they move again in the sequel. The motivating premise of the first book was, as its new title correctly proclaims, the anomaly of a master assassin who is reduced to physical incapacity by the sight of blood. But in this new book, would that be enough to continue moving the action forward? Not a problem! Working brilliantly within a mix of my favorite genres (steampunk/sword & sorcery fantasy), author Celine Jeanjean continues to move those sliders as both urchin Rory and assassin Longinus develop their relationship with each other and with others.

As The Black Orchid opens—to their mutual shock and not a little embarrassment— both Rory and Longinus find themselves in the position of being honestly employed in the service of Damsport’s ruler, the Old Girl. It’s devastating to both.

Longinus—"Damsport’s most elegant assassin", clotheshorse, and bad poet—is used to stalking his contracted victims to the accompaniment of an internal monologue extolling his brilliant (and brilliantly accessorized) successes. But with legal employment, he’s reduced to stalking incoming shipments to discover the reasons for the shortage of luxury goods such as his trademark black silk (so essential to the Viper’s image you know…). And the elegant lines he formerly composed in praise of his prowess as an assassin are now replaced with love poems sent (anonymously, of course) to the Lady Martha, daughter of the Old Girl. While our sympathy for this new Longinus might be high, his rapidly diminishing competence and proactivity make him seem like an over-age and slightly whiny Harry Potter.

Well-dressed and no longer a scrawny, smelly urchin, gainful employment and regular meals have hit Rory hard as well. For the first time, her life plan of becoming a master swordswoman is tainted by the realization that “the Scarred Woman” she wanted to emulate for years is actively determined to destroy both Longinus personally and her city of Damsport. But Rory slowly realizes that if she’s no longer an urchin—the one thing she was supremely competent at—then she has no idea who or what she is. Like Longinus, the Rory we meet at the beginning of The Black Orchid is hitting the trifecta of low sympathy, competence, and proactivity.

And the relationship between Rory and Longinus—the one area that could move those sliders up as they reinforce each other’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses—is crumbling under the weight of respectability.

Luckily for Rory and Longinus, the one person whose sliders are at 100% for competency and proactivity, and near-zero for sympathy—Longinus lifelong enemy and sister Myran—is subtly orchestrating a series of events designed to destroy them. With their enemies a step ahead at every turn, Rory and Longinus both have to step out of their comfortably respectable new life, become proactive, and resurrect the competencies of their old lives to survive.

One of the things I love about Celine Jeanjean’s writing is all the stuff she does NOT say. In keeping faith with Rory and Longinus as narrators, she keeps explanations to a minimum and pays readers the compliment of assuming we’ll get relationships and motivations from actions, instead of from paragraphs of exposition. Instead of congratulating Damsport on having people of color—and especially women—be strong, clever, and brave, the author lets the unfolding story speak for itself. The love of a woman’s life? It can be another woman, one of a different race at that, and that relationship can be publicly acknowledged. The strongest person in town? Again, that can be a woman. The villain? Ditto.

In a particular level of genius, Celine Jeanjean lets us into Rory and Longinus heads, uses their point of view to narrate actions, and lets readers put together the clues that the bemused characters still haven’t understood. In addition, The Black Orchid meets all my remaining criteria for a successful mid-series book:

1. Both the Black Moment when all goes to crap AND the turning point for the series overall? I don’t want to risk spoilers, but there is a moment when all truly seems lost, and when Rory and Longinus’ relationship is severed. Coming off that moment is, I believe, the real turning point for the series as a whole.
2. Both its own self-contained story arc AND the setup for the final confrontation. Yes, the story arc is nicely wrapped up within this book, and the villains dealt with. But Rory and Longinus’ nemesis, the Scarred Woman/Myran, is still out there plotting. The young noble Rafe is still interested Rory, as he told her in Book 1. “I could be your sidekick, you know. Or your love interest. There’s always a sidekick and a love interest in stories.”
3. Characters who grow and develop within this book AND also have arcs that span all the books? Rory and Longinus meet this requirement individually, but even more in the form of their evolving and developing relationship.
4. Villain/conflicts who suffer interim defeats in this book AND are still out there building to that climactic final book’s conclusion? And that brings us back to where we came in, with Longinus’ lifelong enemy/sister Myran pulling the strings that set the plot arcs dancing

Five stars? When a book has everything I like—diverse, well-developed and evolving characters, a steampunk setting, and entertaining dialog, what’s not to love?

*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
Profile Image for Riley.
868 reviews58 followers
May 1, 2016
I fell in love with Rory and Longinus and the city of Damsport when I read The Bloodless Assassin last fall. So, when I learned the book I read was only the first book of a steampunk series, book 2 (which did not yet have a name) became one of the most anticipated new books of 2016 for me. From the first word on page one to the last word on the final page, The Black Orchid met all of my expectations!

The continuing adventures of the assassin that cannot stand the sight of blood and the grammatically incorrect urchin who insists she is nobody’s assistant are highly entertaining. Like the first book, this sequel has engaging characters and an intriguing plot. It all happens in a city that is vividly detailed, Crayola-box-64-colorful and full of possibilities!

In The Black Orchid, urchin Rory becomes a little less urchin-like. Much to her insistence to the contrary. The question of her age was answered – sort of . She may pretend to be 16, but she is not that young. She suspects she is 18, but may be even older. Rory is no longer a child and in her position working for the Marchioness of Damsport, away from her childhood home in the Rookery, Rory is maturing faster than she would like. Rory’s struggle to hold on to her heritage and maintain her urchin life-style is poignant, commendable and entertaining. I love the scenes where, in the course of her grownup job working for the Marchioness, urchin Rory is tearing through Damsport either on the back of a powerful mechanical spider or on her feet. Running and jumping across rooftops and scampering up and down gutters, Rory needs no steam coaches or steam rickshaws to get herself from place to place.

Longinus is the assassin who cannot abide the sight or smell of blood. It would seem a serious handicap for an assassin, but he has other talents that aid him in his profession. In The Black Orchid, his ability with a sword, skill as an alchemist and his heightened sense of fashion are critical to Longinus’ work for The Old Girl (the Marchioness). Longinus’ quirks have endeared him to me despite the fact that he is vain, arrogant and often totally clueless when it comes to understanding Rory.

One of the things I admire about Longinus is his direct mode of conversation. In the Rookery, it turns out to be surprisingly effective. I love this example:
“Why’s he staring at me like that?” asked Adelma.

“Longinus,” hissed Rory, elbowing him.

“Forgive me,” replied Longinus with an apologetic incline of the head. “I was just absolutely mesmerised by the brutishness of your features.” At his side, Rory squeaked.

“Well, course you was,” said Adelma. “And normally I’d buy you a pint for that, but today I’m in no mood for compliments.”

Rory is scampering across rooftops and Longinus is hanging out in the Rookery because there is a mystery to solve. A mystery that started with the mysterious death of Rory’s friend and may have far reaching consequences. Because the Old Girl’s dear friend and former lover Mizria is visiting Damsport, the Marchioness wants the murder solved soon to keep everyone safe and the political situation status quo. Since the body was found in the Rookery, she calls on Rory to visit the old neighborhood and dig into the mystery. It is going to get a lot more complicated than the death of one Rookery citizen and Rory and Longinus will be in the thick of it. There are plots and there are plots within plots. The mystery is complex and dark with more than enough intrigue. The intrigue was doled out in small bites throughout the book, so don’t think you are going to figure this one out very fast. Just the way I like it!

Ms. Jeanjean’s imagination set to words has made her a favorite author for me. I love her descriptions of, well, everything. From Longinus apparel to the automated library book retrieval system, I am able to form very vivid pictures in my own mind about what the city of Damsport and her people look, feel, hear and smell like. In one passage in particular, I was mesmerized by the description of the Damsport docks, the people and all the activity occurring there.

The Black Orchid is steampunk with only the slightest bit of romance. Book one had only a hint. In book 2, the hint grew two a realization. My hope is that as the as the adventures continue, so will the romance.

That bit of romance is happening between Rory and Rafe. Rafe is one of the Varanguard – the Old Girl’s personal bodyguards – and he is often assigned to duties that involve Rory. He pretends that he is only doing his job. She pretends to detest him. It doesn’t help that Rafe is of the nobility. When Rory insists she is nobody, Rafe response is sweet and very romantic. “You’re somebody to me”. Witty banter between Rory and Rafe is as entertaining as it is enlightening. They have the same number of letters in their names – does that mean they are meant for each other? The Urchin and the Lord. Hmm, maybe that could be a future title. I can tell you that it looks like book 3 has them on a new assignment, leaving the city – together.

The Black Orchid is highly recommended! For truly magnificent steampunk adventures, The Viper and the Urchin series is difficult to top.

I an enamored of Ms. Jeanjean’s skill with words, so I’m going to end my post with a list of words or phrases that made me smile, say hmm, or look something up. Totally out of context, perhaps they will entice you to read The Black Orchid.
2.aggressive nutmeg
3.no patch on
4.alchemical enhancement
6.unsightly gasp

Ms. Jeanjean provided a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Originally posted at Smart Girls Love SciFi Romance.
Profile Image for Michelle Palmer.
409 reviews
June 24, 2022
Rory and Longinus are staying with Cruikshank in her warehouse while the Marchioness has them under her pay. Longinus is bored and can't stand the mess that Cruikshank keeps the working area.
Rory goes to the Rookery, her old hang out and finds out that a gentle giant that she had befriended when she was little has been found dead and has no blood left in his body. After talking to some others in the area, she finds out that a couple other large me have also gone missing.
Rory and Longinus start investigating and have found some things amiss in Damsport. One is the shortage of black silk that has Longinus very upset and on a mission to find out where it is. Two is and old flame of the Marchioness has returned while all this strange stuff has started. A brothel called The Black Orchid seems to be right in the middle of all the trouble coming down.
Profile Image for Jane Firebaugh.
Author 7 books101 followers
January 31, 2020
This series just keeps getting better and better! The Black Orchid is a wonderful second book in The Viper and the Urchin series.

When one of Rory's old friends turns up dead mysteriously, she vows to figure out who killed him. There are so many suspects and loads of suspicious activity to keep Rory and Longinus on their toes, not to mention Longinus' having to settle for off the rack clothes or Gods forbid, grey silk, since not being able to find his treasured black silk anywhere. What is a respectable assassin to do?

This book had me alternating between nail biting and laughter and I couldn't put it down for a minute! Absolutely Awesome!
Profile Image for Mandy Haggard.
16 reviews3 followers
December 31, 2017
Steampunk at its finest!

Rory and Longinus are two of my newest all-time favorite characters! I was ecstatic that a second book was available so their story could continue. The Black Orchid was an amazing story! The mystery, the story-line just all of it! I recommend this amazing adventure to anyone with a love of fine imaginative writing. I can't wait to read what adventure awaits Rory, Longinus, Cruikshank, Adelma, and Rafe(😍) in the next book! There is a next book, right, Celine?!😊
Profile Image for Maren.
414 reviews
January 26, 2023
For whatever reason, this one took me awhile to get into. It did manage to hook my interest, but it was a very stretched and higgely piggely hook that could easily be disengaged, so I was a lot less inclined to spend my evenings reading. Thus what would have been maybe a two day read if it really engrossed me ended up taking closer to a week an a half.

It was still a fun read, though, and the pace of the last few chapters kinda made up for my earlier disinterest.
196 reviews2 followers
November 23, 2019
Occasionally Annoying

Yep. Five stars and I’m annoyed. Rory annoys me regularly. Adelma once in a while. Everyone but Rafe.

Why? He’s the only one not bandying about his position and history to prove that he belongs to some caste.

Either way, I think the author is doing a great job with the characters and despite annoyance, I love the book.
123 reviews5 followers
January 31, 2019
Just reread this book having read the 3rd book of Slave City. I enjoyed it even more than when I first read it. Longinus and Rory work well as characters and I am completely emotionally invested in them as a result of the fantastic writing and world building. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Doug.
239 reviews17 followers
May 20, 2019

A romp. A gas. A guttersnipe beleaguered by do-gooders. A pompous assassin with severe social problems. A couple of ginormous women who are friends and polar opposites.
The story is one of twists and turns, hilarity and loss, and a story of hope. Well done.
Profile Image for Juneta Key.
Author 10 books37 followers
June 18, 2019
A Wonderfully fun read

Rory is older now and lands smack in the middle political plots and intrigues. The city description of Damsport is beautifully written. I could picture it. These characters make me smile. Can' wait to read the next one.
835 reviews
October 30, 2019
The Black Orchid

Good book! It is amazing how many misunderstandings Rory and Longenius can get into in a 400 page book. And it grows worse because they never talk things through. Their miss steps are so funny.
Profile Image for Marie Reed.
83 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2020
Another fun, quirky ride with a twist I wasn't expecting! I enjoy watching Rory and Longinus' grow both as individuals and as partners. The addition of a few new characters was great, too. I'm looking forward to their next adventure!
Profile Image for Jordan.
561 reviews9 followers
April 2, 2020
Took me a while to finish this book, not because of any drop in quality I just got distracted. Overall I'd say if you enjoyed the first volume in this series, you cant go far wrong with 'Black Orchid'.
Profile Image for C.J. Grant.
Author 1 book3 followers
September 7, 2020
Great follow up to the first book. I am enjoying the action and the growing friendship between Rory and Longinus. The author does a great job with world building and the development of the characters. I'll be reading the next in the series soon.
Profile Image for Becca.
143 reviews3 followers
July 7, 2020
Solid follow up in an engaging series

In their first case as spies to the Old Girl, Rory and crew must solve a tangled mystery that threatens the city and the Marchioness's life.
Profile Image for Crystin McDaniel.
Author 10 books13 followers
April 9, 2016
Men are vanishing and dying in the Rookery, and the Marchioness of Damsport finds herself suddenly (and astonishingly) in need of urchin Rory's connections to discover why and how her subjects are disappearing.

Meanwhile, an even more sinister plot awakens as far as Longinus is concerned. For someone is trying to eliminate black silk from Damsian markets ... and how can Longinus maintain his reputation as the most elegant assassin in Damsport if he can't dress the part?

A few of you may remember when I read The Viper and the Urchin last year. The title has since changed to The Bloodless Assassin (a fabulous title!), but the story remains the same ... and The Black Orchid once again brings us back to the world of Rory and Longinus.

At first glance, you'd think these two made an unlikely pair, but I absolutely love the dynamic duo. They are perfect foils for the other's personality, and I really enjoyed their growing friendship/alliance ... as well as the tumultuous moments introduced in this book. I simply adore Longinus, adore that he's equal parts pompous snob and brilliant assassin. I particularly enjoy how his intuition is almost always spot on ... but for all the wrong reasons. Not to give too much of a spoiler, but his missing black silk actually plays a huge part in solving the mystery. The author did a wonderful job of utilizing his unique personality to progress the plot and it never once felt forced or contrived.

And Rory ...? Who wouldn't love cheeky, confident, practical Rory? This book frequently highlights Rory's growth, not just as a character, but as a young girl trying to find her place in her newly expanded world. Her personality and the issues she faces were perfectly created: I could identify with her multiple times during the course of the novel. (Tears weren't shed, but I definitely had to pause a couple of times to battle the emotion. Especially when she runs away from the party ... ah! I wanted to hug her!)

Also, I'm dying - literally dying - to have more of the romance hinted at in this book. I'm not going to say who, because I don't believe in spoilers, but ooohhh how I loved the romance. (There better be more in book three, Ms. Jeanjean! You hear me?! More romance! I need my urchin love story!!!) Again, there's only hints of romance (so far) so don't be put off if you're not into that sort of thing. There's plenty of mystery and action and humor to appease everyone.

That brings me to my recommendation: read it. Everyone, just go pick up a copy and read it. The story stands quite well on its own, but you really should grab The Bloodless Assassin to go with it, so you can have an entire weekend of well-made sassy characters, sword-fighting action, blood-chilling assassinations, witty banter, and all the other amazing goodness to be found in this series.

I mean it. If you enjoy reading at all, you'll definitely find something to enjoy in this entertaining world. Personally, I think it's going to be the assassin terrified of blood ... but then again, that might just be me.
2 reviews
April 15, 2016
Our favorites are back again and things are not what they seem in Damsport. After suffering for months at the hands of boredom, Longinus and Rory find themselves thrust into a mystery that has something to do with missing men and lost black silk. With the life of a very important figure from the Marchioness' past are at stake, the Old Girl will do anything to make sure things are safe. Even if it puts Rory and Longinus in the crossfire.

Now I must say this, usually I find sequels to be lack luster. It's a hard thing to do really, especially if the first novel was spectacular (The Bloodless Assassin was spectacular btw). The Black Orchid is a good sequel. It has some things I found fault with but for the most part it was wonderful.

Rory and Longinus are back and in this novel everything gets a little bit more deeper and developed. The relationships, backstories and characters, all get a little more developed and a little more mature. Their actions and why they are the way they are, are explained a little more. Longinus acts more like an older brother of sorts and Rory does less to get under his skin. One of the great things about this book and its predecessor is that there's great characters and diverse characters and this novel really brings that to light. There's a ton of great and interesting female characters you wouldn't normally see in other novels and no two female characters are alike in anyway. This novel really does focus on having very cool and very prominent female characters which I love.

The writing of the novel is just as good as ever and it seems that there's this brilliant thing going on where Longinus and Rory's points of view are written in accordance to their personalities and mannerisms. Rory's point of very is written bluntly, with very accessible phrasings while Longinus's writing is more elegant, with large word choices.

With that being said there's still something missing from this book. It's kind of those things where everything is great but it could be better if just this one little thing was added in. I can't really pinpoint what it is, though. I'm thinking it's because we get less of the Viper the persona and the way Longinus would write his story as he talks, and for me that was a major highlight in the novel. Also there's not as much tension or buildup to the great reveal of whodunit that I thought there was going to be.

This is a shorter and spoiler free review, to see the full and non-spoiler free review you can click here
Profile Image for C.D. Gallant-King.
Author 13 books93 followers
April 21, 2016
"The Black Orchid" is fabulous for all the same reasons I raved about "The Bloodless Assassin" (previously "The Viper and the Urchin"). It's marketed as "Young Adult Steampunk" but that classification really doesn't do the book justice. It's a character-drive mystery/thriller that just happens to be set in a fantasy world and is rated PG-13. The background and world-building that bogs down so many other genre books are just set dressing here, plot devices that flesh out the story instead of propping it up. The YA tropes, while slightly more noticeable in this second book, are still minimal and not central to the story.

The strength of the tale lies in its two main protagonists; the spunky, rebellious Rory and the pompous, dashing Longinus. The pair are the heart and soul of story, not history lessons or codexes on magic or alchemy. Their characters are so large and over-the-top that I feared they may become cartoonish, but Jeanjean has somehow rounded them and added depth without losing the fun and uniqueness who they are. Longinus has grown respect for Rory's skills and recognizes his own faults while still believing the greatest crime in the city is that he can't get a decent bolt of black silk for a new cape. Rory is still fighting for her life and constantly getting into deadly situations but now has to figure out her feelings for boys at the same time. It's silly and wonderful, ridiculous and realistic at the same time, and you can't help but fall in love with both of them.

Though the characters and their interactions do the heavy-lifting, the main plot is a mystery about disappearing lowlifes from the city's underbelly, and the appearance of a new criminal organization that appears to be somehow involved. The mystery moves at a brisk pace and hits all the right notes to keep the reader guessing and turning pages. It also comes to a satisfying conclusion while setting up the next (final?) book in the series, no small feat. In short, Ms Jeanjean has penned another tight, sharp and fun book that can be enjoyed from a variety of angles. I strongly recommend checking out "The Black Orchid."
Profile Image for E.D. Martin.
Author 14 books206 followers
May 3, 2016
Last summer, I read the first book in this series, The Viper and the Urchin (now titled The Bloodless Assassin), about an assassin who teams up with a street urchin to solve a string of copycat murders. This book pairs the two of them again, although this time they’re now working for the city-state ruler, the Marchioness – and completely bored out of their minds. The action picks up when the team is pulled in to investigate a murder in a rough part of town. They stumble on a big conspiracy where no one can be trusted, as the body count mounts.

Like the first book, this one was great in that I didn’t really predict the ending. The author is great at misdirection; like the characters, you’re not sure who the good guys or bad guys are, as everyone has motives that aren’t completely revealed until the end.

Also like the first book, I loved the diverse cast of characters thrown in so nonchalantly. In addition to the rainbow of skin tones, the Marchioness has a female consort that no one bats an eye at. I’d love to see more books follow this path of mirroring the diversity found in the real world.

It also touches on class issues: are certain people expendable based on their role (or lack of) in society? What happens when classes mingle – is it okay socially? Will both sides be able to accept each other, or will there always be the urge to change one of them? How fluid is class, and what happens when you move into a new one?

The Black Orchid focused as well on relationships: the one between assassin Longinus and street urchin Rory, between Rory and a nobleman working in the Marchioness’s guard, and between the Marchioness and her longtime consort.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a good balance of fluffy escapism and social commentary. I’m looking to see what we get in book 3.
12 reviews20 followers
May 8, 2016

This is a sequel that I had been eagerly anticipating and I was definitely not disappointed! This is a suspenseful romp through the city of Damsport, which the author introduced in her first novel, "The Bloodless Assassin" (formerly "The Viper and the Urchin.") What to do if you are a bored assassin or rough-around-the-edges swordswoman-in-training? After their last adventure, Longinus and Rory find themselves "honestly employed" with nothing to occupy themselves...which could be dangerous in itself, but then they finally receive a call from the Marchioness. She needs their help to solve a series of mysterious murders and uncover a conspiracy involving her former consort, some smugglers, and a malevolent alchemist! No further ingredients are necessary for a good adventure!

I really enjoyed getting to know these characters better. I would say that the characters are my favorite part of the story and I'm glad to see a lot of my favorites back from the first book, as well as some new ones that I'm hoping to see more of in future installments!

Although both the main characters are uniquely self-confident, we get to see some of their inner struggles in this book. Rory is growing up, but has her own particularly "Rory-like" way of navigating the "typical" teen struggles. I was happy to get to know more about her childhood and the inhabitants of the Rookery. I really love that Ms. JeanJean has created some wonderfully atypical strong female characters, like Adelma.

Longinus, too, has his "growing pains" in this book, and I thought it was fascinating to be privy to his thoughts as he reveals some of his insecurities to the reader while showing quite a different facade to the world. The ending was a bit shocking, but satisfying, and left me wanting to go on another adventure with Rory, Longinus, and all the fascinating people they seem to meet in their adventures.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Lloyd.
580 reviews44 followers
April 25, 2016
The second adventure of the Viper and the Urchin finds these two disparate characters relocated to the warehouse of Cruikshank, engineer to the Marchioness, no longer an assassin and a pickpocket, but officially employed by the Old Girl, as the Marchioness is affectionately called. But their services have not been required and they are feeling aimless and redundant when at last they are summoned to investigate a mysterious death by exsanguination in the insalubrious Bayog district of the city of Damsport.

Rory’s knowledge of the criminal underworld of the Rookery make her indispensable but Longinus occupies his time investigating the unexplained shortage of the black silk he needs urgently for his new elegant suit. A link between these two events is discovered in The Black Orchid, a newly popular brothel. Rory and Longinus find themselves in great danger again, not just from their enemy but also from threats to their relationship. As they become estranged, the future looks grim.

Like the first book, The Black Orchid engages readers by the strong, vibrant women who never give up against all odds. An old relationship between the Marchioness and stunningly beautiful Mizria may be reawakened, Rory seems to becoming closer to Varanguard, Rafe and Longinus continues to send anonymous poems to Lady Martha, daughter of the Old Girl.

Celine Jeanjean has written another thrilling adventure which is hard to put down. The grubby streets of the city come alive in the fast moving plot and each character has substance and complication. Alchemy and steam driven vehicles play their part but heroism shines. In conclusion the scene is set for further adventure involving characters who have come to mean a great deal to their readers.
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