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A Restless Truth

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Member Reviews

8 Compelling Sci-Fi and Fantasy Murder Mysteries to Curl Up With

Murder mysteries carry a unique yet familiar set of tropes and archetypes; cracking the spine on one is like opening a board game of Clue. There are locked rooms stalked by inspectors and suspects, unexpected murder weapons and devious red herrings, missing memories, and sympathetic motives. But while that genre has its beloved classics rooted in contemporary realism, more and more sci-fi and fantasy authors have turned to this formula and framework—to continue the metaphor, like a special-edition Clue with fun new speculative trappings.

In the past five years especially, there has been a rise in SFF murder mysteries, stories set in secondary fantasy worlds or near-future cities or in the cold infinity of space (where, yes, someone can hear you scream and can try to solve what made you scream). Some of these SFF sleuths are detectives and inspectors by trade, conjuring up futuristic versions of Columbo and Sherlock Holmes. Others are amateur investigators (paging Jessica Fletcher and Phryne Fisher) thanks to their lucky proximity to an unreasonable, nearly comical amount of foul play and seemingly random deaths.

These eight engrossing mysteries entangle angels and demons, clones and hyper-insomniacs with some good old-fashioned murder. Whether you want to dip into a brisk whodunnit novella, or curl up for hours unraveling every clue and motive in a thicker volume, we have all the pieces for you to play.

A Restless Truth by Freya Marske

What Freya Marske loves about murder mysteries set on cruise ships is the forced proximity to strangers warring with the temptation to toss everything (clues, suspects, self-styled meddling detectives) overboard. What I love about A Restless Truth, the second installment in her fantasy romance trilogy The Last Binding, is how her protagonist Maud Blyth shares a similar aversion to lying as Knives Out’s would-be murderer Marta—it doesn’t make Maud vomit, but it makes her so uncomfortable that she would rather twist herself in knots to mostly tell the truth… just obscured in key moments, like when she’s trying to outrun some murderous magicians on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic.

Pair Maud with Violet Debenham, an actress and magician who can’t fathom making herself vulnerable enough to be truthful with anyone, and their romance unfolds along the same breathless plot beats as solving a murder that could shift the balance of all the magic in England.

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Being trapped onboard a ship with an unknown murderer is a frightening enough prospect on its own, without adding powerful magic to the mix. Luckily Maud Blyth is just as undaunted in the face of overwhelming odds as her brother Robin. I just reviewed A Marvellous Light, Book 1 in Freya Marske’s The Last Binding trilogy, the other week and went straight from finishing that one to reading the sequel. A Restless Truth, the second book in this fantasy romance series came out at the beginning of November.

Maud Blyth has been sent by her brother across the Atlantic to find an old woman who possesses part of the magical Last Contract and warn her that she is in danger from a group of powerful magicians who want the Last Contract for their own purposes. However, Maud’s warning fails to prevent Mrs. Navenby from being murdered on the very first day of their voyage back to Britain. The old woman is found dead in her stateroom, and Maud is left trapped aboard the ship with her murderer for the next week and with no idea which of Mrs. Navenby’s belongings conceal the disguised piece of the Contract. All Maud has to work with are the vague drawings and notes from her brother’s visions, which seem to hint at important moments and people aboard the ship. Armed with these predictions and her own innate boldness, Maud sets out to play detective while trying not to attract the attention of either the murderer or the non-magical authorities on board. She gathers allies to her clause, including an enterprising jewel thief, the haughty and powerful Lord Hawthorne, and an actress-turned-heiress named Violet, who delights in causing scandal. Scandal might be just what Maud needs in her (up until now) quiet and sheltered life. But even as Maud gains an enlightening education on pursuing her own desires, she doesn’t lose sight of her larger goal: finding the missing piece of the Contract and keeping it from falling into the wrong hands.

A Restless Truth plays with a classic plot from the murder mystery genre: a shipboard murder, where the murderer, investigators, and more potential victims are trapped together in an isolated setting for an extended period of time. This premise has been used in books ranging from Agatha Christie’s 1937 classic Death on the Nile to modern thrillers like Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10. As a fan of detective novels (a newly burgeoning genre in the era when this book is set) Maud shows a certain amount of genre savvy. Upon finding Mrs. Navenby’s body, Maud immediately thinks of the mystery novels she’s read and tries to imitate their star detectives by coming up with logical, systematic ways to search for clues. Self-taught and studious, Maud gets all her best education from books and gets a thrill whenever she can apply this knowledge in real life. Eventually, however, she must leave her book-learning behind and learn to trust her instincts once the stakes get higher and she finds herself facing threats of violence and imminent danger.

In addition to being an action-filled murder mystery/thriller, A Restless Truth—like A Marvellous Light—is a nuanced and thoughtful queer romance. Interestingly, while the first book in this series featured an m/m romance, this love story is f/f and centers on Maud Blyth’s queer awakening. Though romantic relationships, especially relationships with women, are new to Maud, this newness isn’t the central conflict. In fact, Maud is ready to dive headfirst into new experiences, but both she and Violet have deep-seated fears that they need to unpack in order to truly open themselves up to each other. As Violet points out several times throughout the book, Maud is particularly good at recognizing the fears and weaknesses of others—a skill which Maud’s manipulative mother had used to hurt others, but which Maud does unthinkingly in her attempt to fully understand the people she cares about. She discovers pretty quickly that Violet—who became an actress to run away from her past—is afraid of being honest and of showing her true self without putting on a performance. Maud, on the other hand, is radically honest, but she fears becoming like her parents, wondering if deep down—despite her deliberate choices to do the opposite of what they would do—she might not actually be a good person. Maud must wrestle with the conflict between refusing to act selfishly while still pursuing what she wants. Maud and Violet’s relationship blossoms quickly over the course of their seven-day voyage, which is mostly spent investigating a murder and trying to outwit their enemies, yet they still make time to explore the most hidden parts of themselves and each other.

A Restless Truth can be read with or without having read A Marvellous Light, though I have been truly enjoying the whole series.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for providing me with a digital ARC of this book!

Previously pitched as a sapphic murder mystery on a boat, I have been eagerly awaiting the follow-up to Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light since I read it earlier this year and absolutely fell in love with this series. I’m a sucker for historical fantasy, and add a sapphic romance at the forefront and a Titanic-esque setting? That sounds right up my alley.

A Restless Truth easily proves itself to be an enticing second installment in the Last Binding series and, in some ways, surpasses expectations by expanding the mystery and worldbuilding in a unique way. Over the course of Maud Blyth’s increasingly dangerous transatlantic journey, we see different ways of conducting magic beyond the standard English cradle methods introduced in the first book.

As always, I adored Marske’s writing style. They manage to create these lush, expansive environments full to the brim with beautiful description and imbibes characters’ internal monologues with excellent and lyrical prose. It perfectly suits her current niche of historical fantasy with the Last Binding series, but I would honestly read anything by her.

I loved A Marvellous Light and enjoyed Robin as a character, but I do think that Maud is a more interesting and engaging protagonist. Perhaps that is because she has a greater sense of agency than Robin throughout the story; both of the Blyth siblings were unceremoniously thrown into the world of magic, but I think that the difference between Maud’s early path and Robin’s is that Maud has a greater sense of the magical world at the start of the story. Maud knows magic is real and is tasked with a clear quest, even if that does go awry in the wake of Miss Navenby’s murder. Comparatively, Robin is thrust into this world without any clear understanding and put under a curse that effectively removes any choice to participate in the unraveling of a grand magical scheme. At many points, Maud internally voices that she feels useless compared to her companions, Violet Debenam and Lord Hawthorn, but the narrative itself disputes that belief.

Violet was an intriguing character and it was fun to watch her perform and even more engaging to see her peel back these superficial elements and bare true parts of herself to Maud. There’s a complexity to her that feels so refreshing for a character that, at first glance, seems to parallel characterizations of Pansy Parkinson in certain fanfiction (if you know, you know).

Quite surprisingly, I ended up enjoying the expanded role of Hawthorn in this book. I found him interesting in A Marvellous Light, but we as the reader don't spend that much time with him and, when we did, it was through the eyes of Robin and Edwin. The dynamic between him, Maud, and Violet Debenam ends up evoking elements of the double act—namely Hawthorn as the straight man. I think that suits his personality well and also helps to make the moments where that dynamic shifts... where Hawthorne breaks from that mold and reveals the glimpses of knowledge and experience that escalate the tension... even more impactful.

I think Maud was the perfect character to help break down the seemingly passive yet thorny walls of Hawthorn. One of my favorite moments in the book comes after a scene in which Hawthorn challenges Maud to a game of chess in the hopes of getting her to stop pursuing the piece of the Last Contract and, despite being on a path to victory, willingly surrenders his king. There's a short, quiet moment when Maud is leaving and Hawthorn reveals his hand: "My sister..." He grimaced. "She was a little like you."

The setting of the R.M.S. Lyric is an integral part of this story, isolating Maud Blyth in the liminal space of a ship surrounded on all sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Maud is effectively left to her own wits and persuasion in order to solve the mystery of Miss Navenby’s murder and recover the second piece of the Last Contract.

Nineteenth and early twentieth-century passenger ships have such an interesting aesthetic and sociocultural nature with the distinction between first-class and third-class passengers in a very physical sense – there is a literal separation built into the design of the ship to prevent a co-mingling of these two groups in areas designed to be pleasurable for the wealthy first-class passengers. Moving between these groups comes at a social risk for first-class passengers… With the watchful eyes of members of English and American high society on board, the Lyric almost feels like a panopticon at certain moments, which is used by and against the characters of A Restless Truth.

The plot in of itself is not as complicated and there is less intrigue, but such is the nature of some series. We learn in the first book the reason why this shadowy group of magicians were targeting Robin and their motivation for doing so, but there are still some gaps in the knowledge around the Last Contract that this fills in for Maud and her group of lovable first-class rogues. The pacing dips a little bit in the middle chunk of the book, but overall it didn't bother me too much.

Now that each side has one piece of the Contract, I’m interested in how Marske will manage to build a compelling and engaging conclusion to this story. Personally, I hope Hawthorn gets the main character treatment in the next book.

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A Restless Truth is, I think, a book which benefited from my having a clearer idea of what this series is aiming to be. That is, I would primarily call this a romance series, with a little plot which links the books together. I didn’t understand that while reading A Marvellous Light, but now I do. As such, I think I enjoyed this one a lot more.

The story picks up not long after the ending of A Marvellous Light, only this time we’re following Maud, who is journeying back from America in the company of one of the people Robin and Edwin have been searching for. Only, things come a little unstuck when the lady winds up murdered.

As I said at the start, knowing more about how the book would go actually helped my enjoyment of it. My main issue in the first book was the lack of balance between the mystery and romance aspects of the plot, along with some handwaving over the worldbuilding. The latter is still there, obviously, but the former has improved twofold: firstly, due to what I expected from the book, and secondly, I genuinely think this one has a better balance between those aspects.

It also helped that, while I did like the cast of the first book, I so much more liked the cast of the second. They really hit every sweet spot, and make me so so excited for book 3 (that is, if I think who the leads are going to be is correct, and I’m reasonably certain of it). I can’t wait to see what happens when these four collide with Robin, Edwin and Adelaide. I predict chaos in the best way possible.

The plot too, I think, was better paced than the previous book—I just remember a large chunk of that where anything mystery-related and therefore, presumably, quite time sensitive, took a backseat and I got bored. There was none of that here, really. Yes, there were scenes which, despite the fact I liked them, I was a little confused how they added to the plot, but overall it was much better in that respect.

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This sequel to A Marvellous Light follows Robin’s sister Maude Maude is supposed to be accompanying an older woman back to England with an important magical artifact.
Unfortunately, she is almost immediately murdered shipboard.
Part murder mystery, part love story, part treasure hunt (as Maude and her nee friends are not sure exactly what the artifact IS) this follow ip novel was a lot of fun.
I really enjoy the unique magic system set up in this world. It’s hard to find something new, and the origin of magic and how it is performed was very cool.

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Okaaay so I loved A Marvellous Light because queer historical romance with a murder mystery going on and magic! It’s like a combination of all the things I love in a book and it was kind of the perfect book for me, you know?

So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered there were going to be two more books! Yes, this book at least, doesn’t follow Edwin and Robin which is kinda sad because I love them dearly, but the mystery and the quest for the other parts of the Last Contract continues! Plus I loved Maud in the first book so I was excited to get to see more of her and hello?! It’s a murder mystery on a ship!? With, I repeat, MAGIC!? What was not to love!?

First things first: I LOVE THIS WORLD! I truly do, it’s historical but there’s magic so seamlessly slotted in, it’s brilliant. I was so happy to slip back into it and pick back up with the hunt for the contract pieces. This one doesn’t mess around either, because we’re straight in with a murder to kick it all off and there’s quite a few suspects because…giant ship. Titanic level ship, even.

As I said, I LOVED Maud in the first book and continued to love her in this one. She can and will stand up for herself, she’s strong and intelligent and wonderfully stubborn when it comes to getting what she wants. I feel like she really comes into her own in this book, away from Robin, and she’s not the only brilliant character! We also have Violet, another wonderfully independent strong woman who happens to be heading back to London to claim her fortune after working in a theatre in New York. I can’t tell you how much I loved getting two wonderfully strong, badass independent female characters in a historical book and the ROMANCE?!

It’s spicy. Dare I say, even spicier than Edwin and Robin? I seriously loved the two of them, and I shipped them immediately. They’re quite the formidable match, though it takes them a minute to get there!

I also really loved new character Ross, our reporter/purveyor of spicey literature who ends up joining their little team and I truly do hope we get to see more of him because I lowkey ship him with *drum roll* Hawthorn. Oh yes folks, the grumpy asshole makes a return and we get to see quite a lot of him. I actually found myself taking a bit of a shine to him, despite said grumpy asshole-ness. I’m now wondering if he might be our third book?

Anyway, the writing is brilliant and entertaining, pulling you into the world of the book and while you might be able to get away with reading this without having read the previous one…it’s probably going to end up being a little confusing if you haven’t! The mystery of the Last Contract deepens slightly and there’s a few more reveals about what went down as well as some twists and betrayals to keep you on your feet!

Considering the entire book takes place over the course of a few days, however long it takes to sail from the US to London (I think it was like 3?), the plot is solid and very tight. There’s no room for faffing around and there’s so much going on alongside the romance, plot twists and budding friendships to keep you occupied.

There’s magic, murder and quite literally lions and tigers and bears running amok all over the place. There’s even a casual seance and a jewel thief. When I say there’s never a dull moment, I truly do mean it and this is a brilliant sequel to A Marvellous Light! Marske is truly an auto-buy author for me now and I can't wait for the next book!

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Fantastic storytelling here, it builds on the first novel but would be wonderful on its own as well. Characters had depth and were easily entertaining.

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I was so glad we got a sequel for this one! I loved the first book and this one carried right on through! Can't wait to read more from Freya Marske!

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review!

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I tried several times to love this book, but unfortunately, I don't think I'm the reader for this series. I believe that people who loved the tone and style of the first book will also like this one. The writing is similar! I thought I would enjoy this one more because of the change in characters (I was interested in learning more about Maud), but the style this is written in still does not work for me. There is an interesting premise-kind of a murder mystery on a boat-that I believe will appeal to many readers.
I will probably still recommend this one to an audience who likes denser writing, elements of humor, magicians, and mysteries. And of course, to anyone who loved book 1!
I'm a little disappointed by not enjoying this read, but I think there are people who will!

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I love the premise of a locked-room murder mystery on an ocean liner (it feels like a historical version of a cruise ship, vibes-wise), and I love the characters and romance in this story. There is a depth of emotional intelligence here that makes that aspect of the book really rewarding. Somehow though, the restricted setting of the story, even though it was appropriate in terms of genre, didn’t quite work for me - I felt like I needed some variation that I wasn’t getting to break up some of the monotony of the plot. I loved A Marvellous Light, and I have been enjoying plenty of cross-genre mysteries lately so I’m not sure what went wrong for me here. Lots to enjoy, but this wasn’t quite the 5-star read I had been expecting.

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This book was an absolutely stellar sequel to Marske's previous book in the series, A Marvellous Light. It was equal parts fun, heart-pounding, and wonderous.

The book has a relatively simple premise: Maud must find an item key to the survival of magicians across England with only the hazy visions her brother has given her while stuck on a trans-Atlantic ship for six days. Along the way she encounters plenty of wild characters - some new and some old - and lots of twists and turns.

I really think the highlight of this book lies in the characters. Quite frankly, I adored them all. Maud begins the book quite naive (and at times a bit annoying), but her character really develops into someone fierce and cunning. Violet was such a fascinating juxtaposition to her, as well as all of the other side characters.

Overall, it was an exciting romp and I am desperately excited for the next book in the series!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and for the free e-ARC in exchange for an honest and fair review.

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3.00 Stars. Have you ever wanted to like a book, even after reading, a lot more than you actually did? This is how I felt about this book. I was really excited about this. I enjoy historic-fantasy books, but I don’t get to read them enough. I thought if this might be like The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry or The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, then I would be a happy reader. I had not read the first book in this series, so I knew it might be an issue, but I had heard that the main characters from book one was not even in this book, and that this was a mystery that took place on a ship, so it seemed like its own contained story. While I do feel like I missed out on a few things, like not learning enough about the magic system, not reading the first book was not the reason why I didn’t love this like I hoped. This real reason, the reason why I just can’t rate this over 3 stars when I normally have a great track record with Tor books, unfortunately is that the book was just too long, and I was honestly bored at times.

I’m late in doing this review. If you follow my reviews, I’ve mentioned this but everyone around me, including my household, got Covid but me. I had to take care of everyone without catching it, and I was exhausted and not getting a lot of sleep. At night I kept picking this book up and I would get through a few pages but not enough happened to keep my interest over sleep. We all know when a good book makes us chose it over precious sleep and that was not happening here. As Covid started to lift for everyone, I was lucky enough to get the flu. Again, I tried and tried to read this book and I just could not do it and I turned to some audiobooks and some other books that were keeping my attention. Now healthy, I finally powered through this book in the last two days, and it was tough. My Kindle edition says only 400 pages but I’m finding it hard to believe. I guess it is all about the pace. There was 40% of this book that was well done and fun, interesting with even good steamy scenes, but the other 60% was like pulling hair to be honest.

In the end I can’t recommend this one, but I won’t say stay away either and here is why. For one, I read a good chunk of this while sick or exhausted so I can’t be the best judge because of that. And number two, because I did not read the first book, I could be missing out on parts that make this book shine better as part of a pair. So, while I can only give this an okay grade, this may work better for someone who wanted to read this because they loved the first book.

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As someone who completely adored A Marvellous Light, I was so, so thrilled to hear there would be a sequel. I will admit to being a little disappointed when I heard this one wouldn't be about Robin and Edwin. However, I was still super excited cause I loved Maud's character in the first book, and I just knew she'd be a fun protagonist to follow. And I was correct!

A Restless Truth, while continuing the story of A Marvellous Light (just with different main characters), had a completely different tone and feel to it, which I loved. Each book contained a certain mystery aspect, but their settings and protagonists are very distinct to one another. This book felt like a victorian mystery novel with a dash of magic and romance. Because it took place on a ship, it also gave it that locked in feel, which is one of my favorite tropes!

The world of the Last Binding series is so fascinating to me. How they utilize magic is done in a way I haven't really seen before, and since I've read a lot of fantasy books, that's pretty cool. Even though this book did focus on magic, I feel like the mystery aspect took center stage, which I had no qualms against. For Maud and Violet's journey, this just made sense. Even so, there was still a lot of suspense built up around the magicians trapped with them on the ship, and the uncertainty of who they could trust. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Having a romance take place over seven days was an interesting choice, but one that Freya Marske expertly executed. The way Maud and Violet's feelings for each other developed was so natural and authentic, while never feeling rushed. Their journey certainly wasn't smooth sailing (hah, puns), but I was rooting for them the whole time.

Violet's character was a lot of fun because of how closed off she is to the world. She hides her true self behind a mask and very rarely allows anyone to get behind it. Maud, of course, begins to peek behind the facade, and that terrifies Violet. Both women are fierce and brave, but approach the world so differently. Maud is trusting, kind, and empathetic, whereas Violet is more cynical, harder to get to know, and more wary of others. This creates a wonderful dynamic between the two. They each push the other out of their comfort zones, but always for the better.

I adored their relationship! A lot of people still seem to think there aren't that many great sapphic books out there, but that is so not true. This is just one example of a fantastic sapphic book. The chemistry between Maud and Violet was electric, but they were also sweet and caring towards the other. While Violet was already secure in who she was and who she's attracted to, Maud had never considered the idea of being with another woman, so it's a bit of a learning experience for her, and one Violet is there to help her through the entire time.

In addition to Maud and Violet's dynamic, I also loved the found family vibes we got from Maud, Violet, Hawthorne, and Ross. I find Hawthorne's character so interesting. There's still a lot we don't know about him, but in this book we got a deeper look behind the gruff and uncaring man he presents himself as. His friendship with Maud and Violet might have been begrudging, but I loved their interactions. Adding Ross created the perfect group. All four are so distinct and varied in personalities and thoughts, so while their opinions may clash from time to time, they all work together really well. It also makes for some really funny moments that I won't spoil, but had me cackling with laughter.

Between the suspenseful plot, electric relationship, and intriguing friend group, A Restless Truth was a wild ride worth every second of my time. I can't wait to see where this story goes in the next book (and I have an inkling for who I think it'll be about!).

The Last Binding is without a doubt one of my favorite series. Historical fiction? Romance? Fantasy? Mystery? What more can a person ask for? Not to mention, Freya Marske's writing style is elegant and clean, making for an engaging and quick read.

If you haven't read A Marvellous Light or a Restless Truth yet, I highly recommend it!

Thank you to Pride Book Tours for providing me with a physical copy of the book, and to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

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Read this without reading the previous novel. Works as a stand-alone. Perfect for Knives Out or Glass Onion vibes. Glad I got around to it!

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A murder mystery on an ocean liner cruising from the US to the UK in the early 1900s being solved by two women – one of whom is a magician. Both of whom are into each other. Things get spicy…and dangerous.

When Maud voyages from the US to the UK on RMS Lyric, she finds a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

I’m not sure how I ended up with an advanced copy of the second book in The Last Binding series – when I hadn’t read the first. I’m assuming either I requested it, not realizing it was a second book or it was sent to me based on my reading history with the assumption it didn’t matter. The series aspect is less “the story happens in a row” and more “everyone featured is living in these alternate history version of the early 1900s plus magic.” Apparently the first book in the series features a m/m pairing (Amazon,, whereas this one stars a f/f pair.

I didn’t struggle too much to figure out what’s going on. The author does refrain from explaining much for the first chapter or two. But that’s because the book starts essentially in media res – with the murder happening. After that has occurred we slow down for a minute, and there’s a refresher of the rules of the universe. It didn’t take me too long to catch up and get into it.

One thing that did surprise me was the spice level of this romance. I was expecting very light spice with most encounters occurring off-screen after a fade to dark. That is not the case. Things get very explicit. Let’s put it this way….at least one of the scenes would have had to have been cut to manage to squeak in an R rating for explicitness. There are three scenes total, and each takes up a whole chapter. To me, this much spice feels like erotica jammed into a romance. I prefer the two separately.

The pairing here is grumpy/cheery. Violet is the grumpy, and I adored her. I liked Maud too, but Violet was someone I could see a whole book’s perspective on. Perhaps I’m biased since Violet is bisexual and the quintessential theater geek. I just really enjoyed her. But Maud is nice enough too. I liked their pairing well enough.

The mystery is substantial enough to hold up a plot. I enjoyed the animals and sneaking around the boat. I did think a bit more attention could have been paid to the class and race issues that sort of came up and got a bit glossed over. I don’t expect preaching in a book but it might have been interesting to at least have Maud and Violet see the second or third class areas of the ship on one of their many attempts to outrun their pursuers. (Somehow they always seemed to end up in the cargo hold instead). Maud talks with disdain of her parents only giving charity when others can see it, but Maud herself doesn’t seem to do much giving either. Violet, at least, offers to become the patron of an all-Black opera. (The real history of Black opera.)

Overall, I liked getting to know Violet, and it was an interesting world to visit. But the spice level was far too hot for what I personally prefer in romance, sliding more into an erotica category in my opinion. It also seems to me that the first book may have been quite different from this one, so readers of the first should come in aware of these differences.

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When it’s more 🌶 than you bargained for…..
If you’re looking for period wlw romance mixed in with three scenes that pack the full heat level, look no further than A Restless Truth.
Thanks to NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

This is a well-written book, it just wasn't for me.

Overall, I liked getting to know Violet, and it was an interesting world to visit. But the spice level was far too hot for what I personally prefer in romance, sliding more into an erotica category in my opinion. It also seems to me that the first book may have been quite different from this one (I don't know for certain, because I didn't read it), so readers of the first should come in aware of these differences.

*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*

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A Restless Truth is a historical fiction LGBTQ mystery set aboard an ocean liner and featuring Maude Blyth, whose brother Robin was one of the MC's in the previous story in this series. I thought this book would be a bit more of a continuation of the previous book, but it could easily be enjoyed without reading A Marvellous Light. I am now solidly a Freya Marske fan and cannot wait for additional titles in this series.

Maude was sent to America to retrieve both a magician and her powerful magical item, but her companion is found murdered in their cabin after they've barely left port. In her efforts to identify the magical item and the murderer, Maude befriends a menagerie of passengers, forming her own Scooby gang to snoop and perform investigations. This was a fun story, with the appearance of one grumpy aristocrat from A Marvellous Light (I do love grumpy aristocrats) whose sole purpose seems to be the foil for the other characters needling.

This one didn't pull my heartstrings as much as A Marvellous Light, but it was more of an ensemble cast so it didn't feel as intimate. I hope there are more to come in this series, and specifically would like to see the grumpy aristocrat find his own HEA.

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WHAT AN INCREDIBLE BOOK! Such a fun sapphic fantasy adventure. I absolutely adored the characters new and old. The capers, real and silly were well fleshed out and enjoyable. I have recommended this book for months now!!

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Maud Blythe is accompanying an old woman on a ship crossing to Great Britain when she gets caught up in a murder mystery on board. Once she starts investigating, Maud makes some allies and enemies confined in the ship and risks her life and her heart. Will she and Violet, a passenger who is magical, be able to find the killer before their ship arrives?

This was a fun queer historical fantasy romp – but the magic doesn’t overtake the story, so if you like mysterious books with a bit of magic, but not an overly complex magical system, check it out. I really enjoyed A Marvellous Light, the first book in this series, and I think the writing improved in this one; great dialogue and quirky characters. While it helps to have the first book read before this one, you could read this as a standalone. There is quite a bit of spice in this book, so be prepared for that when you read it. I’m looking forward to the next one.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Dot Com for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I enjoyed this book! I'm not sure if I liked it quite as much as A Marvellous Light, but I did like it.

In this one we have Robin's sister, Maud, and the book starts with a murder while on a transatlantic voyage by ship. There is a lot to like with this, as there is magic and the continuation of the investigation that Robin and Edwin started in the first book in the series, as well as the murder investigation. This isn't a book that you can read as a standalone, you need to have read A Marvellous Light first, otherwise you will be pretty out of your depths when it comes to the magic system, the ongoing story, and the characters.

The main couple in this book are Maud and Violet, and I loved them. Maud is exploring her sexuality and figuring out what she likes, which may involve being a wee bit bossy, and I am totally here for it. I liked how they communicated and how their relationship developed over the course of the voyage, and I liked how Violet called out things that would normally be overlooked/ignored in an insta-love sort of situation, which this was.

Definitely enjoyed this one and absolutely cannot wait for the third book!!!

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I am a huge fan of historical fantasy, so many aspects of series appeal to me greatly! Some of my wishes from the previous book were more female characters and more insight into magical social circles and government. This installment had both of these in spades, which I absolutely loved!

Other things I enjoyed:

✨ We got hints of what magic might have looked like in other countries and cultures. I hope we get even more of this in the last book, because I loved it.

✨ The characters played off of each other in a really fun way, and I felt like the supporting characters (who I really enjoyed in both books) had more page time than they did in the first book.

✨ The setting being a passenger ship at sea made it feel a bit like a closed room setting to a point. There was forced proximity and no escape, so there needed to be creativity in how different things were handled. I enjoyed this quite a bit!

✨ The tone felt relatively light and fun, considering there were murders and mysteries happening. This kept the book from becoming too maudlin, and I appreciated the playfulness sprinkled throughout.

Some things I wished:

✨ There are multiple occasions of insta-love happening in this series, as well as a bit more romance and lot more spice than I typically enjoy. But I’m invested enough in the storyline that I came back for the second book and will return again for the third.

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