I started with Lavender Lies, the eighth in the China Bayles series. Alberts' heroine, China Bayles, owns an herb shop in Pecan Springs, Texas. She is a former lawyer who, according to the first novel in the series, Thyme of Death, got tired of working for "a law firm that specialized in protecting the constitutional rights of bad guys--mostly big bad guys who had the wherewithal to pick up the tab for an expensive defense." And, like the charming shop owner-detectives in many cozy mysteries--owners of tea shops, coffee shops, quilt shops, restaurants, wedding planner businesses, and scrapbooking shops--China has a genius for ferreting out criminals.
|The newest in the series.|
I like Wittig's voice, the originality and down-to-earth intelligence of China, the details about the shop, and the fact that we never really feel we're in danger. These are great fun to read, and I enjoy reading about herbs--the theme is lavender in this one, and there are recipes in the back for Lavender Bath Tea, Lavender Madeleines, Lavender Sachet, etc.
THE JEAN PLAIDY OBSESSION. I considered buying a complete set of Jean Plaidy. Her 31 novels in print by Three Rivers Press would cost roughly $465. I gazed at this number as though it had no meaning. I very much enjoyed Murder Most Royal, her novel about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. I read an excerpt of her novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Courts of Love, and though I have not yet bought it, it is a matter of time. Plaidy (who is also Victoria Holt) wrote SO MUCH. There is the Norman series, the Tudor series, the Queens of England series, the Plantaganet series, the Mary Stuart series, and much, much more.
There is a terrific Jean Plaidy page here.
EMPRESS OF ROME SERIES. Luke Devenish's new series of Roman historical novels, Empress of Rome, has a cult following in Australia. The first novel, Den of Wolves, was published by Bantam last year. I love Roman historical novels. Occasionally I indulge myself with a Robert Graves, or Lindsey Davis, and have contemplated Collen McCullough's Masters of Rome series. I just received my copy of Den of Wolves and am enjoying it very much. I know this period of history very well--early imperial Rome--and have always been fascinated by Livia, Augustus's murderous wife, one of the main characters. Is she as bad as everyone said? The novel is narrated by a slave, Iphicles. I've just begun it.