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Killing Beauties

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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  52 reviews
England, 1655. Following the brutal civil wars the country swelters under a cloud of paranoia, suspicion and the burgeoning threat of rebellion. With the fragile peace being won by Cromwell’s ever-efficient Secretary of State John Thurloe, the exiled king Charles Stuart sends two spies on a dangerous mission to wrest back the initiative. These spies are different, however: ...more
Paperback, 375 pages
Published January 23rd 2020 by Unbound
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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  74 ratings  ·  52 reviews


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Finitha Jose
I am not going to tell that this is a literary masterpiece. But this review is a salute to Pete Langman for his efforts to preserve the bravery of two female spies forgotten by history. There are many loose threads and vagueness for sure, but the book has accomplished its intention of bringing into life the efforts of Susan Hyde and Diana Jennings.
As you must have garnered from the abstract, both Susan and Diana are part of a Sisterhood which work for the restoration of Charles Stuart to the th
...more
Frankie (Chicks, Rogues and Scandals)
I know the old saying says; ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ and usually I don’t jump onto a blog tour or take on a review by the cover alone, but I did instantly love it it’s so darkly gothic I was fascinated. Add an intriguing blurb, a historical tale all about unknown women from history then you have me hooked.
Set in 1655 during the English Civil War where the country is full of spies, danger, back-stabbing, death, and rebellion ready to tear the country apart even more then it is already. E
...more
Sherry Chiger
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
For a first draft, this would be pretty good. For a finished novel, though , it's disappointing. Plot lines are dropped like stitches in a knitter's first scarf, characters are inconsistent, and the tone of the books careens wildly from philosophical to arch. I didn't believe the relationships between the characters for a moment, and some of the story was simply difficult to follow. I'm giving it three stars rather than two because the setting was well evoked, it seems well researched, and the p ...more
Melisende
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Whilst predominately a work of fiction, there is a strong sense of in-depth research that has gone into the story, which only makes the reader want to discover more (which I did).

The two main characters of Susan and Diana were polar opposites. Susan is complex, serious and dedicated to the task ahead, even though she knows it could very well end in her death. Whilst Diana on the other hand, seems reckless, adventurous, daring, and willing to take a gamble and gain a reputa
...more
Sue
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
England, 1665: Tension simmers in a country that has been torn apart by the brutal civil wars and the execution of Charles I. His son, Charles Stuart lives in exile with his court, in France, hoping that one day he may return to the country of his birth.

The peace is fragile and Cromwell employs his Secretary of State, John Thurloe, as his spy-master, in order to keep ahead of any possible rebellion by Royalist sympathisers keen to restore the monarchy.

Two spies are sent by Charles Stuart to unde
...more
Lynne Smith
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a fascinating look into a period of 17th century English history about which I knew something but not much. I enjoyed the fact that some characters were real historical figures, for example, John Thurloe, Cromwell’s spymaster, Diana Gennings female spy, a London apothecary Anthony Hinton who under interrogation gave up names of spies linked to The Sealed Knot and Susan Hyde spy and sister to one of Charles II’s closest advisors.
The novel moves along at a good pace and ha
...more
Tim
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Killing Beauties is a finely crafted blend of a great story, a cast of well-shaped characters and a finely woven plot of bravery, suspicion and betrayal all infused with a rich and earthy period flavour that drew me into its landscape of Cromwellian skulduggery without screaming LOOK AT MY RESEARCH.

The two 'she-intelligencers' at the centre of the story are a wonderfully odd couple with an enjoyably spiky relationship (though I have to say I much preferred spending time in the company of the sha
...more
Veronika Jordan
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ten years from now if someone asks me if I have read this book I may not remember the characters or the plot or who did what but I'll be able to say, 'Oh that's the book where she-intelligencer Diana Jennings pees into an ale mug under her skirts in the inn.' I think it will live with me forever. Of course that was at the beginning. There are more references to urinating in public places, from very un-private privies to alleyways and buckets. For someone of my genteel sensitivities this shocked ...more
Dave
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Muddled plot and a complete lack of a sense of jeopardy for the protagonists.
Anne-Marie Goyette
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing from the first page to last. This book is written so well you transported into it like a movie in your mind
If any book should be made into the movies this one should
It has all treachery, villains and heroine. Step.into another world enjoy the read
Sam Wilkinson
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Protectorate isn't an era I have read much about previously, the civil war once or twice and Charles II a few times, but not the Protectorate itself.

Susan Hyde existed and is believed to have been a spy, and I have already picked up one other book (non fiction) to read more about her!

It's an intriguing plot and I needed to know what happened next, even when it made for uncomfortable reading.

I'd certainly be interested in reading more,
...more
Pheadra
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, pigeon-books
Set in the mid-17th century this fictional tale centres around She-Intelligencers and at its heart are three feisty, fierce, fearless females who belong to the sisterhood of The Sealed knot acting as spies on behalf of the Royalists.
Their task is to extract information from primarily John Thurloe, an arrogant, intelligent, cruel man who holds the position of Postmaster General and Chief Spymaster.
The evocation of the sense of smell runs strongly through this story and there are many amusing scen
...more
Nicola Mackenzie-Smaller
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’ve been reading this book with The Pigeonhole. It’s been massively enjoyable. Strong female protagonists, plenty of “baddies” to enjoy and informative to boot.
This book tells the story of female spies during the time of Cromwell. They are working to restore the King to his rightful position and because they are women they are safe from the suspicion of their mortal enemy, Thurloe, a terrible man, inflicted with both misogyny and kidney stones!
This is a good romp, it’s funny and sassy and ther
...more
Amelia
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave a fascinating insight into the world of historical ‘She Intelligencers’. Very strong female leads and other interesting characters. I knew very little about this period in history so I found it extremely interesting Very well written with intrigue and humour. I was lucky enough to read this via the Pigeonhole App, a Stave a a day over ten days. I couldn’t wait for each one to arrive. I can highly recommend this book.
Christine Rennie
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pigeonhole
I read this book via Pigeonhole over a ten day period, it wasn’t my normal genre but it was a fascinating read. It exuded the history of a bygone era and the storyline of women who were spies or secret agents, at a period of time when women had no rights and would not be thought of as spies by the government of the day, made for an interesting storyline.
Highly recommended
Ewan
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
‘Forgive me Father, it has been almost a year since my last book review.’ There, confession out of the way, it’s time to tell you about this terrific book. This historical novel negotiates the precarious tightrope over the twin pits of too many archaisms and total anachrony with a deft skill that is a great credit to the author, Pete Langman. Set in the 17th Century during the Protectorate, the author conjures a real flavour of the times and stitches real and fictitious figures into a rich tapes ...more
Nina
“We are the invisible agents.
We are the first, the last.
And we are the difference.”


I wouldn’t call myself a fan of historical fiction. I have read a fair handful of them and even list a couple as favorites, but it’s not my usual genre of choice. What attracted me to this book, though, was the title. Following a list of releases that suggested fairytale-inspired stories, I mistakenly thought this was one such book—perhaps a retelling of Beauty and the Beast? I don’t know. I was probab
...more
Jeannie Zelos
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Killing Beauties, Pete Langman

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Historical Fiction

I liked the sound of this, fiction but about real people, and in a period that intrigues me, but which I know little of. Sadly the story just wasn't a great fit for me.

I'm not sure why, perhaps its because I failed to really connect with the characters, perhaps its just that events seemed muddled at times. I need to empathise with someone in a story, but though the setting felt real the characters just
...more
gwendalyn _books_
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

This historical fiction that Is actually based on the astonishing real to life story of one of England’s earliest known documented female spies.

Susan Hyde, the unsuspecting the sister of Edward Hyde, chief advisor to King in exile Charles Stuart. With a daring cast of women the plot centers on Susan’s delicate work as an undercover agent
...more
Ruth Coulson
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not all history is His Story. As history was told in the past, the contribution of women was much overlooked. It is good to hear about some of the women whose actions were important at the time. Thanks to Pete Langman for making this available in a fictionalised version.

Killing Beauties in set in the mid 17th Century in England at the time of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth. It tells the story of a number of real people: Susan Hyde, Diana Jennings, Edward Hyde, John Thurloe for a start. Susan and
...more
Julie
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Spies are fascinating, and spies in an historical period unburdened by difficult hi tech are even more involving. In this book the fact that the spies are very much women adds to its attraction, as both Susan and Diana spend the first part of the book using their unique talents to fool those around them. This book is set in the time of Oliver Cromwell’s ascendancy, in 1655. King Charles I is dead, executed by Cromwell and others who believed that it was the only way to end a series of battles, c ...more
Liza
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review, but that has no influence on my review or opinions.

I have always enjoyed historical fiction, and this book was no exception to that. I appreciated learning more about this time in English history because I honestly do not know much about the English Civil War. I truly loved how this story, while fictionalized, gave some information on two real but forgotten women spies. History has not been kind to women, and has often forgotten many of
...more
Gail Cook
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book as a work of fiction although it is set against a true historical background of the time of Oliver Cromwell and the exiled King Charles Stuart. Some of the characters therefore have the names of historical people but their stories are just that, stories.
It is a story of the times when men ruled and women were considered either skivvies/whores or fragile creatures. The women in this tale use this to their advantage to support the cause of the exiled King.
I did find that the re
...more
Eilean Rawson
Feb 14, 2021 rated it liked it
I received this book through Voracious Readers. This is a book of Historical fiction set in Britain in the Protectorate era. It focuses on a 'sisterhood' who believe in returning Charles II to the English throne. The sisterhood send spies into England from France to encourage sympathisers and try to entrap or get rid of members of Cromwell's inner circle. It's an interesting concept and the era is well presented. There is a convulated plot to ensnare a high official, which almost succeeds. I fo ...more
Saskia
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
This is my first book by this author so i wasn’t sure what to expect.


I love historical romance and strong female characters, so this book was right up my alley. I really wanted to like this book, but sadly it fell short for me.


I enjoyed reading about the cat and mouse game and the way messages where sent, but for me tohe story lacked. it was never made really clear what the mission was and i felt there were a lot of loose ends in the story. it made it hard to read and I had trouble getting into
...more
Tiffany Rose
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I love the fact that this is based on a true story about a female spy during the time of the Stuart's. I was really hoping to enjoy this book. However, it was hard to keep the characters straight as many of them were so similar and the actual execution of the book just didn't work for me. If the book were cleaned up a bit and the characters added to a biit more, and maybe a few taken out as there were so many, I think it would be a great story.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher f
...more
Paul
Mar 06, 2020 rated it liked it
This is OK, not great. It's a good premise (particularly since it's based on real people), and it's a little uneven. It doesn't have the polish of a more experienced author (or maybe editor). But I think the author shows promise, and he did some good research.

I really appreciate the review copy!!
...more
Janice
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fascinating, although I must admit, rather dense read about female spies in the mid 1600’s. Clearly they existed, but seem to have been excluded in much of the literature that’s been written about this time, which focuses about the shenanigans that the men got up to, chasing chambermaids and plotting behind each other’s backs! So, I’ve read quite a few historical novels about royalty and the many power-struggles for power that went on, but I’ve never come across anything told from this perspec ...more
Isaac
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Killing Beauties is a thrilling story of daring women in the dangerous world of espionage in seventeenth-century London. Both characters and setting are vividly portraited. This story is grounded in thorough and detailed knowledge of this interesting period in history, and above all fun to read!
Sarah
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
Review to come.
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Pete Langman is an editor, academic, cricketer and sometime rock and roll guitarist who holds a PhD on Francis Bacon (the other one), keeps wicket for the Cricketers' Club of London, and was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at 40. His non-fiction encompasses Cricket, Parkinson’s Disease, Music, History of Science, literature and culture, and has appeared in publications ranging from ...more

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