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Ratings and Book Reviews (7 54 star ratings
7 reviews
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4.4 out of 5
54
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  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    I liked this story from the beginning.

    I liked this story from the beginning. I really like the characters. Daniel is an enigma and Kat is a very strong person. You have women who dress in trousers and some interesting servants. When Kat's assistant is murdered, she didn't stop trying to find out what happened to her. Along the way Kat and Daniel uncover a plot to kill the Queen. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to hearing more from Kat and Daniel.
  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    A Victorian Mystery with a Bit of Romance

    FINAL DECISION: A lively main character combined with a far reaching mystery and the presence of a man with many secrets makes this Victorian historical mystery an enjoyable read. THE STORY: Cook Kat Holloway has found herself a new position which almost immediately embroils her in the murder of one of the servants. Determined to discover who has murdered the young girl, Kat asks for help from her friend/acquaintance Daniel McAdams, a man with a lot of secrets. Kat and Daniel's search takes them far from the murder of an Irish servant to the possibility of treason. OPINION: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I began reading mysteries and I always liked the ones with relationships between the "detectives" and this book fits right in that tradition. While the mystery is interesting and keeps the pace of the story lively, what I really love about this book is the strength and independence of Kat and her relationship with the mysterious Daniel. Kat is strong and lively and I loved reading about her struggles. Unlike most women in historical novels, Kat works hard every day and has a career that she has created for herself. It is interesting to read about her daily life and the status differences "below stairs". The struggles and limitations on women of all status is emphasized here. Daniel's character is also intriguing as he has plenty of secrets that are slowly revealed -- although not all of them are uncovered in this book. He is a good match for Kat and his obvious caring and concern for her even while they are friends makes their romance a slow burn but an interesting one. The cast of characters, which includes the offspring of both Kat and Daniel, are tossed into a high stakes mystery. Like all good murder suspense stories, this one begins with what seems to be an insignificant death and eventually turns into quite a big deal through a series of twisty plot turns. I enjoyed the mystery as well as the romance in this one. Everything meshed so well so that all the interesting characters were given something important to do in the unfolding plot, but no one seemed out of place. I enjoyed this one and would read it again to see all the little turns that I missed. WORTH MENTIONING: This is a continuing series where the romance between Kat and Daniel is slow moving and part of the continuing storylines of the series with a book emphasis on a particular mystery. CONNECTED BOOKS: DEATH BELOW STAIRS is the first novel in the Kat Holloway Murders series. There is a prequel book that introduces the characters. While it is not necessary to read that novella first, it certainly provides some background to the characters here. STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars. NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via First to Read by applying points that I earned. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    First book in A Below Stairs Mystery series

    Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley is the first installment in A Below Stairs Mystery series (also called Kat Holloway Mysteries). Mrs. Kat Holloway is twenty-nine years old and a cook in London (1881). She has just obtained a position at Lord and Lady Rankin’s home in Mayfair. Kat comes down to work the next morning to discover her assistant dead in the larder. Kat sends for the mysterious Daniel McAdam to assist her in uncovering what happened to the poor girl. The eccentric Lady Cynthia (Lady Rankin’s sister) joins them on their quest to discover what happened. It seems that Kat’s assistant had gotten herself involved with the wrong people. What had the young woman come across that got her murdered? Death Below Stairs had my attention for the first couple of chapters, but then it became tedious (I wish the whole book had been like the beginning). The author is overly descriptive. Every little detail is provided. It does create a rich environment (reminds me of the show Upstairs Downstairs). Readers are given detailed accounts of clothing, how Kat sharpened her knives (more than once), how Kat prepares each dish, description of rooms, people, buildings, etc. The pace was glacial, and the book did not hold my attention. The murder mystery was interesting, but it was not the main focus of the book. The mystery took them into the world of the Fenians. I found some parts of this section to be implausible. I believe many people will be surprised by the killer’s identity. I was curious how Kat was able to run around looking for a killer. Most cooks are busy from the moment they enter the kitchen in the morning until late at night. Kat, who just started her position, manages to run around London and then take several days off in the pursuit of answers. It was also odd that she never consulted the lady of the house regarding meals. Most cooks met once a week with their employer to discuss the meals for the upcoming week (food had to be ordered by the housekeeper). Kat is an interesting character. She has a secret that could ruin her and her career. Daniel McAdam is an enigma. We are given scant details on him. After I began Death Below Stairs, I felt I was missing something. It did not feel like the first book in the series. After a little research, I found that there is a prequel titled A Soupcon of Poison. Events from the prequel are alluded to in Death Below Stairs. Death Below Stairs felt more like a romance novel (at times) than a mystery. Kat and Daniel are attracted to each other. We get to hear how attractive Daniel is and how his kisses make her “lips tingle” (many, many times). The author tried to put too much into this one book. I wish she had stuck with the murder mystery and excluded the plot to eliminate Queen Victoria and the Fenians.
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    Interesting mystery. Pleasurable read with romance

    4.5* I received an eARC at no cost from the author. Although I already knew (and loved) Jennifer Ashely as a historical romance writer, I had never read a mystery book from her, so this was my first attempt. Our main character, Kat, is a cook with a lovely young daughter and a past. She goes to work in a house where a young girl (a scullery maid) dies. And so she decides to get Daniel’s help – he’s someone she knows from her past, but that neither she nor us know much about. And that doesn’t really change throughout the book. It might be the only thing I would like to change – I would have liked to have known just a little bit more about Daniel and his son James, but I’m guessing Jennifer Ashley will start lifting the veil a bit more in the next book. It was full of mystery and I usually find out right away who killed whom, but in this book I was kept on the edge of my chair trying to find out who planned to kill the scullery maid. In the end, it made perfect sense, and I really enjoyed finding out what was happening alongside with Kat and Daniel. It was a very pleasurable read, with a small touch of romance between our main characters. I can’t wait to see what happens next to our Kat, and if she and Daniel upgrade their romance status (I’m sure they will!!).
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    An intriguing Victorian whodunit

    When acclaimed young cook Kat Halloway takes a job at Lord Rankin’s Mayfair mansion in Victorian London, she has no idea of the tempest in which she’s landed. From kitchen help below stairs to the family above stairs to the very throne of England, there is plenty of mischief afoot, and it’s up to Kat and the mysterious and multi-talented Daniel McAdam to discover who murdered Kat’s Irish kitchen assistant and what her murder means to a much bigger plot. Daniel seems comfortable in whatever role he’s called upon to play, whether above or below stairs. His past confounds Kat, but they make a formidable team, along with a cast of quirky characters including Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law to Daniel’s son to a mathematics genius. All have their parts to play in unraveling the mystery playing out. If you enjoy an historical mystery, Death Below Stairs will transport you to Victorian London as Kat, Daniel and company solve one murder and prevent more.
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