Cover Image: City of Scoundrels

City of Scoundrels

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Member Reviews

I loved the premise and the ethos. However, I did NOT enjoy the stilted writing and simplistic characterization. I make a note of my response here b/c I do not post, or cross-post, negative reviews on my blog.
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Elizabeth Miles can't help but revert to a good con against the heartless, greedy, and dangerous inlaws of widow Rose.  She is whip smart and resourceful and becomes a central player in the con to stop a German spy ring along the way.  Mrs Bates is an older lady who took Elizabeth under her wing and knows she isn't a legitimate society lady.  Gideon Bates, Mrs. Bates son and a lawyer, is Elizabeth's fiance and is waiting to report for the war.  Anna Vanderslice is a kind society girl who has become Elizabeth's best friend and whose brother, David, is Gideon's best friend.  Mr. Miles, Elizabeth's con man father, is key to the con to protect the widow Rose and get her rightful inheritance.  The relationship between the Elizabeth and Gideon is the most compelling aspect of the series

This story unfolds in the midst of WWI and the influenza outbreak know as the Spanish Flu pandemic that claimed between 50 million to 100 million worldwide.  Both the war and the pandemic draw too close to Elizabeth and those she loves.  Additionally, the American Protection League was an active all-volunteer organization utilized by President Wilson primarily to curb any anti-war activists but included identifying German sympathizers, anarchists, and labor organizations.  The APL created a fearful atmosphere.  These true historical events taking place around the story and impacting the characters makes this even more gripping and realistic.

The climax involves Elizabeth in great danger because of the con to catch German spies.  The wrapup involves the pandemic striking close to Elizabeth and Gideon's time to ship out for war.

I read this novel the end of October but am just getting to the review.  It is ironic how the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic is a strong element in this story and from the author's notes you find several actual accounts from that pandemic were incorporated into the story making it quite chilling.  The relationship between Elizabeth and Gideon is deepening on both sides and gives warmth to the characters.  The two pronged con to help Rose and also stop a German spy ring is brilliant.  This is a finely woven story that grabs hold and doesn't let go.

Rating:   Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.
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Victoria Thompson continues her Counterfeit Lady series with City of Scoundrels.  New York in the latter part of World War I is full of German spy stories and war profiteers as well as patriotic Americans.  Influenza is killing many.  Elizabeth Miles and her fiancee Gideon Bates engage to protect a war widow whose brother in law seeks to bilk her of her inheritance from her husband.  Elizabeth has her father work out a con to get the funds back and in the process discovers German spies  Well plotted and fast paced. Enjoy.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

City of Scoundrels, with its wonderful New York City setting, is full of scoundrels indeed.  With World War I still taking the lives of far too many men and the Spanish Flu felling so many in its path, Elizabeth and her lawyer fiancé face danger and a multi-faceted con like never before.

In the fall of 1918, the cutoff age for draft has been raised, and Gideon has prepared himself to serve.  While he waits for his turn, he spends much of his days drawing up wills for soldiers before they are deployed.  One such soldier Tom Preston, who is rather well off, wants to name his new secret wife and unborn child his heirs.  When Rose, Tom’s wife, receives news that he has been killed in action and Tom’s will is stolen, Gideon wants to do all he can to secure her future.  Elizabeth and her family full of con men propose a complex scheme to get back at the Preston family.

Author Victoria Thompson does a fantastic job describing New York City in 1918 and providing a strong sense of place.  There is so much tension and fear of the War and the flu in the air, and I felt like I was right there in the midst of it all.  Part of why I read historical fiction and mysteries is to learn new things, and Thompson weaves facts seamlessly into the story, making them pertinent to the tale and teaching readers along the way.  The con that Elizabeth’s father implements is quite convoluted and takes up most of the story. Add the flu and German spies to the mix, and it all leads to a very satisfying, and surprising, ending.

These characters have really grown on me over the three, thus far, books in the series.  Elizabeth, with her history as a con, seems quite the opposite and unlikely mate for straight laced Gideon, but they complement each other perfectly.  Elizabeth is intelligent, brave, and street smart. Gideon is moral and a grounding force for Elizabeth. Unconventional supporting characters round out the cast, and they are all immensely interesting.

I really enjoyed City of Scoundrels and look forward to watching Elizabeth and Gideon’s future unfold.  Highly recommended.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*
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Christmas With His Wallflower Wife is the sixth and final book in Janice Preston’s two trilogies featuring two generations of the Beauchamp family, and it focuses on Alex, younger son of the Duke of Cheriton and his struggle to find out the truth of his mother’s death almost two decades earlier.  If you’ve read any of the other books in the series, you’ll know that Alex is a very troubled young man whose relationship with his father is strained and who has deliberately distanced himself from the other members of his family for reasons that have never been fully explained.  In presenting Alex’s story, Ms. Preston does an excellent job of slowly unpacking his damaged soul and bringing to light the truth of the trauma he suffered that prompted his withdrawal from his family; Alex is both flawed and compelling, and while there were times I wanted to tell him to get over himself and stop behaving like an idiot, his thoughts and motivations are so very well examined that it was easy to sympathise with him even as I was disagreeing with his methods and seeing the pitfalls marking the horizon.

It’s been several years since Alex visited the family seat, Cheriton Abbey.  When he was just seven years old, Alex discovered his mother’s dead body in the summer house by the lake there, and was so severely traumatised that he didn’t speak for a year afterwards. Even though he’s now in his twenties, Alex still avoids the place like the plague and continues to maintain the emotional distance he has painstakingly manufactured between him and the rest of his family.  But he’s persuaded to return there for a garden party at which all his family members will be present – a rare occurrence – intending to leave as soon as he can.  Another of the guests is his oldest friend, Lady Jane Colebrooke, who is present with her father and dragon of a stepmother, who dislikes Jane and is determined to marry her off to the odious Sir Denzil Pikeford by hook or by crook.  It seems that she’s chosen the latter option when Alex hears screams coming from near the lake and immediately dashes to the rescue to discover Jane struggling under the weight of an inebriated Sir Denzil.  Jane’s stepmother gleefully insists that Jane must marry Pikeford or be ruined, but Alex won’t hear of it.  He’s always liked Jane, they get on well and have many interests in common… he’ll need to get married at some point, so why not marry a woman he already knows and likes?  Jane has loved Alex for years and is aghast at the idea of his being forced to marry her, but he manages to overcome her objections and the couple is married without delay.

One of my favourite things about this sort of story is seeing how the relationship develops between  two people who had had no thought of being married, watching them adjust to life as part of a couple and learning to compromise and take another’s feelings and wishes into account.  Not surprisingly, it’s often the man who has most to learn about compromise and adjustment in these situations, and that’s true here.  Ms. Preston writes the early days of Jane and Alex’s marriage very well indeed, showing them developing an awareness of each other and enjoying each other’s company.  Alex is surprised at how well his marriage is turning out – Jane is a wonderful companion, an enthusiastic lover and he’s clearly very fond of her.  But the rot sets in when he begins to experience nightmares in which Jane’s ordeal at the hands of Pikeford and the death of his mother start to overlap, and later, starts experiencing waking visions, flashes of memory about the past which seem to contradict the story he’s always believed – that he found his mother’s body.  Jane wants desperately to help him, but recognises the signs of the return of the ‘old’ Alex, the one who keeps everyone at arm’s length and allows nobody to truly know him – and can only watch as he retreats farther and farther away from her, the relaxed and more open Alex she’s come to know disappearing under the weight of his burdens.

As I said at the outset, Ms. Preston does a marvellous job of conveying Alex’s increasing confusion over what his dreams and flashes of memory might mean, his fears that maybe he’s losing his mind and his desperation to keep it all bottled up for fear of being thought weak.  Jane is presented equally well, her fears for Alex, her refusal to give up on him and desperation to help him… all of them portrayed with subtlety and nuance.  I was thoroughly engaged by the story and eager to get back to it, although somewhere around the middle of the book the pacing slowed and I felt that we were treading water for a while, waiting for the next phase of the story to start.  I also realised around the same time that while Alex’s story is, without doubt, an extremely well-written and interesting one, the romance is very much in the back seat.  This is the story of a young man finding out the truth about a traumatic event which has shaped his life – which, to be fair, he probably wouldn’t have done without Jane’s staunch support – rather than one about two childhood friends falling in love.  It’s clear that Alex thinks highly of Jane and there’s no doubt he’s sexually attracted to her but there’s not a great deal beyond that sexual attraction for most of the book; there’s no real indication he thinks of her as anything more than a great friend he happens to lust after, and I never really felt him as a romantic hero.

Christmas With His Wallflower Wife isn’t really a Christmas story – it ends at Christmas but the bulk of the action takes place before, so don’t go in expecting lots of Christmas cheer and festive spirit!  It is, however, the engrossing tale of a man’s battle against what we might today call PTSD in an era where therapy was unheard of and men were expected to be strong and protective and to never show any sign of weakness.  I’m  giving the book a hearty recommendation because, even though the romance is perhaps not quite as strong as I’d have liked, the story as a whole held my interest and I was completely invested in discovering how everything would turn out.

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This was a very fast read for me.
I enjoyed the book for a simple reason: time period.
Although, I did not read her previous books in this series, I still understood the plot.
WWI and WWII are my favorite periods to read in fiction books, so that is why this book won me over.
I will continue to hunt for more past and future books from t his author. Soft writing, good plot, Enjoyable read. 
Recommended!
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City of Scoundrels is the third book in the Counterfeit Lady series. This book continues through World War I and Elizabeth and Gideon are waiting for Gideon’s draft summons to fight. Both characters are anxious and Gideon’s too honorable to try to find a way to finagle his way out of his duty. While awaiting his turn, Gideon and the law firm for whom he works, are treating soldiers with kindness and preparing wills in case of the unfortunate actions of war. One will, in particular, is that of Tom Preston, an industrialist who co-owns a shoe factory with his brother and stepmother. Tom is recently married to a woman his family would never approve of, let alone support if something were to happen to him. He takes it upon himself to have a new will drawn up to supersede one his brother insisted upon not too much prior. 

After receiving word of Tom’s unfortunate death, Gideon learns Rose, Tom’s widow, is robbed of both the marriage certificate and the new will. She was also attacked in her own home. Fearing for her safety, Gideon involves Elizabeth to help keep Rose safe. Now, Gideon and Elizabeth must figure out who’s behind the theft and assault and Gideon must figure out how to help Rose secure the part of the shoe factory’s fortune Tom wanted her to have. Unfortunately, what Elizabeth and Gideon encounter goes further than Tom’s scandalous marriage to Rose. 

City of Scoundrels is my favorite book in the Counterfeit Lady series so far. Don’t get me wrong, the first two books are absolutely amazing, but City of Scoundrels has so many emotional moments, plot twists, and truly spectacular moments. The author did a wonderful job with this book in the series and I couldn’t put the book down. I love how the author weaves truly historic events into this series in such a way that I feel like I’m there. The character development continues, and I love the strength written into Elizabeth and Gideon. I highly recommend this series. 

I was given a hardcover copy of this book to read.
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t was good to see Elizabeth and Gideon again. They are such oil and water but still make a great pair. This time it is the widow Rose who needs help and of course they have to put together a con to right a wrong. Both are taking on traits that belong to the other. Elizabeth a little more honest, Gideon a little less honest. This is a great story with danger, tension, and edge of your seat action. The widow Rose is a great new character and I hope she shows up in future stories. With book three Counterfeit Lady is on track as a must follow mystery series. I love the historical events the author weaves into the story. Be sure to read the afterward to see what events really happened.
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Very quickly:  I did not feel that this was the best in this series, but I still enjoyed it.  The setting and the time period are very interesting, and the characters feel genuine.  I feel like the plot of this one got a little off the rails in the middle.  I look forward to seeing where the author takes these characters in future installments.
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Berkley Prime crime titles usually come out at the beginning of the month. This month they have 4 to choose from and they are set to release on 11/05/2019.
Goodreads and Amazon links will be posted.

Enjoy!




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Air Warden Mystery Book 1

The start of an exciting new World War II historical mystery series featuring charming, quirky Air Raid Warden Poppy Redfern....

Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, the Redfern family's house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. 

The village's Air Raid Warden, twentysomething Poppy Redfern, spends her nights patrolling the village and her days writing a novel of passion. It is a far cry from the experience of the other young women in town: within days, two of the village's prettiest girls are dating American airmen and Little Buffenden considers the "Friendly Invasion" to be a success. 

But less than a week later, Doreen Newcombe, the baker's daughter; and the popular Ivy Wantage are both found dead. Poppy realizes that her community has been divided by murder, and the mistrust and suspicion of their new American neighbors threatens to tear this town, already grappling with the horrors of war, apart. Poppy decides to start her own investigation, but she soon unearths some unfortunate secrets and long-held grudges. She will have no choice but to lay a trap for a killer so perilously close to home, she might very well become the next victim....

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Chocoholic Mystery Book 17

In the newest mystery from nationally bestselling author Joanna Carl, a dive into house flipping becomes a deadly flop....

When a house near Lee and Joe's home goes up for sale, the couple teams up with Lee's aunt and uncle, Nettie and Hogan, to buy it, remodel it, and resell it for a sweet profit. But after the owners of the house, the Baileys, accept their offer, a local developer, Richard "Spud" Dirk, suddenly swoops in with a higher one, and it seems their dreams might be snatched away. 

Lee, never as passionate about the plan as her husband and uncle, is anxious to get back to focusing on managing TenHuis Chocolade. But when a long-hidden gun is found behind a pipe in the Baileys' basement, she begins to suspect a mystery is afoot. And when Spud turns up dead in the Baileys' carport a few days later, it becomes clear there's something rotten at the foundation....

To solve the murder, Lee will have to strip away layers of secrets--that is, if someone doesn't level her first....

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Murder She Wrote Book 50

In the fiftieth entry in this USA Today bestselling series, two timelines converge as Jessica Fletcher returns to high school to investigate the murder of an old colleague, while we meet Jessica as a young teacher solving her very first murder--that of the high school principal.

     Young Jessica Fletcher's life couldn't be more ordinary. She teaches at the local high school while she and her loving husband, Frank, are raising their nephew Grady together. But when the beloved principal dies under mysterious circumstances, Jessica knows something is off and, for the very first time, investigates a death.

     Present-day Jessica returns to high school for a colleague's retirement party and has fun seeing familiar faces. That is, until the colleague winds up dead--and his death has mysterious links to Jessica's very first murder case.

     With nothing but her own instincts to guide her, Jessica embarks on a quest to find out what really happened all those years ago and who's behind these murders. Because time is running out to catch this killer.... 

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Counterfeit Lady Book 3

Elizabeth Miles finds herself in a position no con can help her escape. Her beloved fiancé, Gideon Bates, is awaiting his turn in the draft to fight in the Great War. Elizabeth is finding it hard to think of anything else, but Gideon has thrown himself into his work, preparing wills for soldiers before they ship out. Corporal Tom Preston is part owner of Preston Shoes, a company that is making footwear for the army, so he has a rather large estate. He needs a new will, however, because he has just been secretly married to a woman whom his family would never approve. He wants to make sure she and their unborn child are provided for if he does not return. 

When Tom is later reported killed, Elizabeth and Gideon learn that the new will has gone missing after Tom's bride revealed her identity to his family. Unless the new will is found and validated, the original will, which leaves everything to Tom's brother, will prevail and the wife and child will get nothing. If Tom's new bride survives, that is. Some terrible threats have been leveled against her, and Elizabeth and Gideon must figure out a way, legal or not quite, to secure Tom's fortune for his wife and child while saving her life in the process.

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This series continues to be particularly excellent. Victoria Thompson knows the time period well, and this time the story includes Gideon's imminent draft into World War I, as well as the 1918 influenza pandemic (if you read this, the streetcar scene!!). I have to be honest, I'm not sure I totally understood how the con in this story was going to work (too much back and forth about money passing hands for me to keep track of), but I liked the story and appreciate Elizabeth continuing to combine her family's skills as grifters with her desire to help people (and let greedy businessmen be conned). This was a fast paced historical fiction- though this series is definitely best if read in order!
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Victoria Thompson is an author that I've never read before.  But I had the opportunity to read her latest book thanks to Netgalley.  I was interested in the subject matter(s) because they are all popular with the older generation of my library patrons.  

I found the story well written, and the characters had depth and heart.  I can see that my patrons 
 will relate to her as a woman from the WWI era.  I do plan to purchase this book for our library collection.  But, I feel that the the first two books must be read to really understand the background of the characters.  They are like living people.... they have a past and to understand the present learning their past will be beneficial.
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I love this series. Why don't more authors use con men/women/artists (former or reformed or not) as characters? They're the best. I hope Thompson takes this series as far as the Gaslight Mysteries series (although, I actually prefer this series).
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Elizabeth and Gideon once again involve the Old Man in righting a wrong. In this case they are helping a war widow get her husbands inheritance from his brother. WWI is going on and the Influenzas of 1918 is killing lots of young people. Any book by Victoria Thompson is a winner.
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I love this series so much!  Elizabeth is such a relatable character, and I love how she never lets anything get in her way.  While her fiance would rather her quit her con-man family ways, she instead chooses to leverage it in order to get justice for other women.  After a war widow goes to Gideon for legal advice, he directs her to Elizabeth and from there they try to get her the rightful inheritance from her husband.  There is also a healthy amount of intrigue and espionage, as they stumble into an intricate German spy ring.  I love this series and can't wait for more adventures!
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I received an electronic ARC free from Netgalley. I really like this series, but this one isn't my favorite. The ending felt a bit rushed and out of place with the rest of the book.

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I have really enjoyed this offbeat mystery series with a con woman turned Lady and her fiancé. The historical details regarding the conditions in WWI as well as the flu epidemic are interesting and worth the read. The cons are amusing and sometimes off the wall. Nevertheless, a fun read.
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Once again another good read from Ms. Thompson. I enjoy this series almost as much as her Gaslight series and I rarely read more than one series from an author.  Gideon gets roped in again to help con some bad folks who are trying to cheat a war widow. The war and the flu are part of the setting. A great story on whether or not they will succeed in the con.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.  I look forward to reading more in this series.
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I really enjoyed the setting and plot of this mystery. Elizabeth and Gideon were interesting and well-written characters. I loved all of the historical details woven throughout, and the author did a particularly good job of portraying how the flu epidemic rampaged the city. The mystery part was well-plotted and solidly executed. I can’t wait for the next one in the series! 

I do recommend reading this series in order, so plenty of time to catch up before this one releases on November 5, 2019!

Thank you Berkeley and Netgalley for a free digital copy!
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I have learn of things that happened during the World War that I didn't know to my knowledge we didn't have The American Protective League in WW TWO. It seems those of German descent were treated similar to the Japanese during the second war. The flu of 1918 was a world problem as it spread every where and many dropped dead where ever they were.. Gideon has it and Elizabeth and his Mother work together to pull him through it. This is the 3rd installment of the Counterfeit Lady series.
Gideon Bates awaiting his call up is writing wills for the soldiers before they are shipped overseas. He writes a will for Tom, a partial owner of a shoe factory. Tom's brother and stepmother do not approve of his wife. When Tom is reported dead, his brother steals the original will leaving the only will left that leaves every thing to his brother. He removed all the money from Tom's bank, this leaves the widow and unborn child penniless. The World War I is about over, but an another draft is possible, age limit has been raised and Gideon Bates is awaiting is his call up. 
Elizabeth's family decides to do a con that will recover the stolen money. The twist and turns the con takes will your amuse and hold your attention. The ending is a surprise. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK AND SERIES.

Disclosure: Thanks to Berkley for a copy through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
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