Book Review: Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by M. C. Beaton

Miss Tonks Turns to Crime is the second book in The Poor Relation series by M. C. Beaton.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A delightful, quick and easy read, that kept me entertained from beginning to end. 3.5 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

One cannot live off dignity alone!

The poor relations banded together some time ago to run The Poor Relation Hotel in the hope their embarrassed relatives would buy them out, but as the hotel prospered, so they began to enjoy the fruit of their labour.

But once again they need money to go on and so poor, faded Miss Tonks is dispatched to her rich sister to steal something valuable.  All the other poor relations have their doubts about Miss Tonks’s chances for success, but the shy spinster has more than a few surprises up her sleeve!

Favourite Quote

“Lord Eston eyed him narrowly.  Aubrey Davenport was dressed like a fop, had the manners of a fop, and appeared to have the intelligence of a potato. Still…”

(Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by M. C. Beaton, page 148)

Review

I seem to be on a bit of an M. C. Beaton binge at present.  Not only am I making my way through The Poor Relation series, but a number of Agatha Raisin’s and Hamish Macbeth’s have been read, or will be read in the near the future.  You’ve been warned 😉

As I mentioned in my review for the first book in this series, Lady Fortescue Steps Out (you can find that review here), these books are “enjoyable, quick, fun-filled regency” reads.  The storylines are undemanding and yet highly entertaining, so are perfect for reading at the end of a long day…

The characters are fabulous, especially the almost evil Sir Phillip Sommerville, who with a sharp wit and even sharper tongue, does on occasion reveal an inner warmth and compassion.  The characters are of course, quirky, but that’s what makes the story work.  Miss Tonks served as a wonderful focal point of this instalment; her desire and determination to show her friends at The Poor Relation that she really can succeed as a criminal mastermind were amusing and led to some…interesting choices on her part.

The setting felt authentic as I read, which is always a good sign when reading historical fiction, even when it’s light and almost farcical.  The romance doesn’t takeover the storytelling; like other aspects of the book, it is not overdone or distracting from the main plot which is the survival of the hotel.  The writing is humorous, the pace is fast, and overall I found the story to be enjoyable and engaging.

Once more, I’m left eager to read the next book in the series, Mrs Budley Falls From Grace, to see how things progress.

Rating

3.5 / 5

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Book Review: Lady Fortescue Steps Out by M. C. Beaton

Lady Fortescue Steps Out is the first book in The Poor Relation series by M.C. Beaton.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Addictive, light-hearted reading with a humorous cast and funny storyline.  A charming first book in a series.  Will be reading more!  3.5 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

What do you do if you are of noble stock but impoverished, living in London and with a certain style to maintain?

One has to work…but one’s relatives will be appalled when one turns one’s hand to trade.  This is precisely what Lady Fortescue decides upon and, together with friend Colonel Sandhurst, transforms her decrepit Bond Street home into The Poor Relation: a posh hotel offering employment to other down-and-out aristocrats, and to guests the pleasure of being waited upon by the nobility.

Thus London’s newest – and most fashionable! – hotel is born…much to the dismay of the Duke of Rowcester, Lady Fortescue’s nephew, who is convinced his aunt’s foray into trade will denigrate the illustrious family name!

Favourite Quote

“Do you mean that we should stoop to being in trade, that we should become hotel servants?” demanded Lady Fortescue.

(Lady Fortescue Steps Out by M. C. Beaton, page 30)

Review

Lady Fortescue Steps Out is an enjoyable, quick, fun-filled regency read that sets out to answer what is a genteel lady – or gentleman – to do when their wealth starts to dry up?  Not go into trade, that’s for certain…or is it?

I really enjoyed how the characters came together; the cast is fun and the setting exquisite.  Regency London and period country estates are brought to life with ease. The pacing of the story was quick and the tone and writing style, entertaining and engaging.

The storyline is a tad predictable in places – irate family members from the (very) more wealthy branches of the family tree, a hopeless romance across the social divide – but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.  After all, the main premise of the story is so unusual for regency era fiction.

Although there is humour and light-heartedness to be found in the story, the author also cleverly weaves some of the more darker aspects of life in the period into the narrative.  The status – or lack of if it – of women.  Living standards for the poor – and for poor relations. However, this is done in such a way as to not become too heavy or overwhelming.  The historical detail was handled the same way; no longwinded passages overloaded with information, but rather, snippets nicely intertwined through the story.  In such a way we get to learn about regency levels of hygiene and false teeth, amongst other things.

A delightful tale in what I hope is delightful series.  It was an easy, effortless read and I am eager to read book two, Miss Tonks Turns To Crime, to see how things progress.

Rating

3.5 / 5