Posts Tagged ‘Alec Halsey Mystery Series’

Deadly Affair

(Alec Halsey Mystery, #2)

Genre: Historical Mystery (Georgian, 1763)

Cover Blurb:

Autumn 1763. Career diplomat Alec Halsey has been elevated to a marquessate he doesn’t want and Polite Society believes he doesn’t deserve. And with the suspicion he murdered his brother still lingering in London drawing rooms, returning to London after seven months in seclusion might well be a mistake. So when a nobody vicar drops dead beside him at a party-political dinner, and his rabble-rousing uncle Plantagenet is bashed and left for dead in a laneway, Alec’s foreboding deepens. Uncovering the vicar’s true identity, Alec suspects the man was poisoned. But who would want a seemingly harmless man of God murdered, and why?

Lucinda Brant’s Alec Halsey mysteries explore the darker side of her deliciously romantic 18th century world. Along with trademark wit and high drama there are deeper subplots and even quirkier characters that will have you shuddering and laughing in equal measure!


This is the second book in the Alec Halsey Mystery series and, once again, Lucinda Brant’s superb writing and Alex Wyndham’s outstanding narration earned a Stellar 5 stars from me.

Ms. Brant weaves an intricate tale of murder, mystery and intrigue and the unexpected twists and turns kept me guessing as to the murderer’s identity and motive. It was like a dot-to-dot where you cannot see the complete picture until you have joined all the dots and I am in awe of her ability to keep track of all the various plot strands.

In addition to Alec, our handsome, honourable, intelligent and inscrutable hero, there is an extensive, well-developed and colourful cast of secondary characters. Some I had previously met in Deadly Engagement, Alec’s plain-speaking, irascible uncle, Plantagenet Halsey; the earnest, sincere Tam, Alec’s self-appointed valet and apprentice apothecary, and Selina Jamison-Lewis, the love of Alec’s life. Others, including the corpulent, drunken, appallingly vulgar Lord George Stanton, are new characters who provide an abundance of potential suspects.

As this is predominantly a mystery, the continuing love affair between Alec and Selina understandably takes a back seat but there is enough tension between the two to keep things interesting. Selina is harbouring secrets from Alec, which she is afraid to reveal for fear of losing his love, and her suggestion that she become his mistress rather than his wife, only creates a bigger wedge between them.

I love how Ms. Brant effortlessly transports me back to Georgian England, bringing to vivid life the elegance, opulence and decadence of this era as well as its darker aspects. Her extensive research is apparent, not only in the fashions, furnishings and etiquette of the day, but also in the political arena and the world of the apothecary.

The Epilogue promises more danger and intrigue for Alec and hopefully a happy resolution to the situation between him and Salina.

Yet another top-notch performance from the accomplished Alex Wyndham whose vocal range is so impressive, delivering distinguishable voices for each of the extensive cast, whether it is the super cool Alec, the crusty, old Plantagenet Halsey or the whiny, petulant Lord George Stanton. His ability to convey the drama, tensions and emotions kept me totally immersed in the story.

MY VERDICT: Simply superb!




Alec Halsey Mystery series (click on book covers for more details):

Deadly Engagement (Alec Halsey Mystery, #1) by Lucinda Brant Deadly Affair (Alec Halsey Mystery, #2) by Lucinda Brant Deadly Peril (Alec Halsey Mystery, #3) by Lucinda Brant

**I received a complimentary copy from the author in return for an honest review**

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Deadly Engagement
(Alec Halsey Mystery, #1)

Genre: Historical Mystery (Georgian, 1763)

Cover Blurb:

Spring 1763. Career diplomat Alec Halsey returns to London to the shocking news his estranged brother, the Earl of Delvin, has not only killed his friend in a duel but is engaged to the woman Alec hoped to marry. The dead man’s mother wants Alec to investigate, so he reluctantly attends a weekend house party celebrating the engagement. Houseguests get more than they bargained for when a lady’s maid is murdered, the bride-to-be is attacked, and a guest is shot dead. Uncovering a connection between these sinister acts and his brother’s duel, Alec confronts a cruel twist of fate and why his brother will go to any lengths to ruin him in Polite Society.

The Alec Halsey mysteries explore the darker side of Lucinda Brant’s deliciously romantic 18th century world. Along with her trademark wit and high drama there are deeper subplots and even quirkier characters that will have you shuddering and laughing in equal measure!


I teamed up with fellow blogger, Eileen Dandashi of Booktalk With Eileen to share our thoughts on Deadly Engagement.

Carol: Deadly Engagement was a real departure for me because it is essentially a historical mystery with romantic elements rather than a historical romance. Having read/listened to several books in Lucinda Brant’s Roxton Family Saga series, which I absolutely loved, it didn’t take much for my friends to persuade me that I should read this series. What were your initial thoughts, Eileen?

Eileen: Initially? I, once again, marveled at the suave, polished and refine voice Alex Wyndham uses to narrate. The use of his voice in its various nuances clues the listener into the internal conflicts of each of the characters. He propels the mysterious and suspenseful storyline forward with such vigor, a listener cannot stop listening.

Alec has quite a mix of emotions rolling inside himself. He thinks he loves Emily. He thinks he’s gotten over Selina. He thinks he can handle the duplicity of his elder brother, Edward. He thinks he can unravel who killed his friend Jack, for he is sure he was set up. He is confused, mystified and ultimately scared to death! I totally get into a mystery, Carol. It must come from all the Nancy Drew books I read as a young girl!

Carol: I totally agree with you about Alex Wyndham’s brilliant narration. I felt as if I was listening to a radio play performed by several actors instead of just one person and he gives each character a distinctive and easily identifiable voice. He seems to live and breathe every character and perfectly captures the personalities of each one. Listening to his superb performance definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

Alec is a wonderful hero – handsome, intelligent and honourable. He had an unconventional upbringing with his rabble-rousing Uncle Plantagenet and, therefore has a very different outlook on life to his peers. What I really like about him is that he is his own man. He likes his life as it is and has no desire to be the Earl of Delvin. Whatever he achieves it is on his own merit.

I enjoyed the romantic elements simmering in the background and poor Alec certainly goes through the emotional wringer. I was happy to see him rekindling his feelings for Selina but was somewhat disappointed that matters between them remained unresolved. I’m hopeful of a happy ending later in the series.

Eileen: I’ve got to say it, pure and simple. I so disliked Edward Delvin. He is quite the devil, although dressed in proper attire as Earl. The man is extremely astute—additionally, he’s a conniving creep! Talk about a man who will do anything to gain more prestige and status. Ugh! I particularly didn’t like his little trick of using people against each other and going out of his way to take as much happiness from Alec as possible. He plays Lady Charlotte, getting her to do part of his dirty work. Frankly, her idea of appearing so terribly proper is offensive. Carol, do I make myself clear??!!

I’ve got to know what you think of Simon Tremarton and Lady Gervais. What about Plantagenet Halsey? This man was a balm to my nerves! He supported women and truth.

Carol: We both agree about Edward Delvin. I thoroughly detested that self-serving man. I hated how he called Alec “second” in that sneering way and how he manipulated the scene in Selina’s bedroom knowing just what Alec would believe (I loved Selina’s method of revenge!). Oh yes, Lady Charlotte. A real viper with an acid tongue!

I think Alec’s friend Sir Cosmo described Simon Tremarton perfectly – an opportunistic weasel and the polite word for the voluptuous Lady Gervais is promiscuous. What about that scene where Lady Gervais and her husband argue and then have anger-fueled sex?

Eileen: Nodding with complete agreement.

Carol: I love Plantagenet Halsey…such an outrageous character who is not afraid to voice exactly what he thinks. He obviously cares very much for his nephew and do I detect a potential romance between the old curmudgeon and The Duchess of Romney St. Neots?

Eileen: Yes, Plantagenet had simply a hard outer surface, but sweet and sincere to his core. I’m eager to see if The Duchess will find the honey within the lemon!

There were lots of characters in this story. Usually, I have difficulty keeping them apart, but the author did a fabulous job giving them each their own distinctive personality. In doing so, it also gives more depth to the mystery. More characters, more possibilities of who is culpable.

Was there any one point you told yourself, you had figured out what was going on? On my part, I kept hitting surprise after surprise in the many twists this story takes. Just when I think I have a pulse on the mystery another layer of intrigue is exposed.

Carol: I agree, despite there being a large number of characters, they were all so well-drawn, each with distinctive traits. They all added depth to the story and, as you say, provided a wide choice of potential suspects. I thought the mystery was so well-plotted and the twists and turns certainly kept me guessing as to the identity of the culprit and the motive. I also like how Ms Brant explored the darker side of Georgian society within the context of the story.

Eileen: I enjoyed the part of Tam, the young self-appointed valet to Alec. For a young man, he has seen much cruelty of the world, yet has a compassion to help the weak. He experiences the wickedness of those who connive and realizes noblemen who do wrong, very often go unpunished.

Sir Cosmo, a very good friend of Alec, is a very earnest and sincere young man. A most likeable character. He’s speaks what we are all think. I love when he speaks of the physique of a male. “Who wouldn’t prefer a stallion to an ass!”,

Carol: I thought Tam was an interesting character with his apothecary skills. He’s honest and it infuriated me to see him suspected of a murder he didn’t commit simply because of who he is. Unfortunately, that’s how most of society treated their servants. So I enjoyed the scene where the reform-minded Plantagenet Halsey lambastes Lord Gervais who objects to seeing Tam drinking coffee in the same room. When we discover the identity of Tam’s father, it was quite a shock.

I very much liked the rather corpulent Sir Cosmo. As you say, he is a man who speaks plainly and provides some delightful humour with the things he says. At the same time, he is a good and decent man and a true friend to Alec even when it means telling Alec some hard truths where Selina is concerned.

Eileen: So all in all, we both agree. This story was superb. I’m ready to listen to book 2 of the series. I can’t possibly leave the threads hanging nor leave what Ms. Brant has in store for the characters. She really knows how to gather her listeners and engage them.

Carol: Yes, this is an excellently written, superbly narrated story and I’m eagerly looking forward to listening to the other books in this series. I agree, Ms Brant certainly knows how to keep you coming back for more!





pic 1Hey, Carol what do you think? It was hard getting down here, I know. My backside is so-o-o sore! These mules aren’t the easiest way to reach the bottom of the canyon, but just look at the view!  A – MA-A_A_A – ZING!!

Anyone coming to the states to see its vastness and beauty needs to make a trip here, don’t you think?. And since we’ve recently had a nice visit at the Pettigrew Tea Room in Wales, I thought you’d like a change of pace, that is roughing it, as many Americans like to do for vacations.  I wonder if it has anything to do with our frontier days and conquering the west?  Perhaps our DNA drives us to do it. Hmmmm.pic 4

Lucky, we’re in front of these guys.  At least our mules won’t slip on something, ah, newly made and take us over the side!

Carol: WOW, Eileen!…

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(Alex Halsey Mystery, #3)

Genre: Historical Mystery (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

Winter 1763: Alec, Lord Halsey is sent on a diplomatic mission to Midanich, imperial outpost of the Holy Roman Empire, to bargain for the freedom of imprisoned friends. Midanich is a place of great danger and dark secrets; a country at civil war; ruled by a family with madness in its veins. For Alec it is a place of unspeakable memories from which he barely escaped and vowed never to return. But return he must, if he is to save the lives of Emily St. Neots and Sir Cosmo Mahon.

In a race against time, Alec and the English delegation journey across the icy wasteland for the castle fortress where Emily and Cosmo are imprisoned. The severe winter weather is as much an enemy as the soldiers of the opposing armies encamped along the way. And as members of Alec’s party begin to disappear into the night, he begins to suspect it is not the freezing conditions but that a murderer lurks amongst them. Awaiting him at his destination is the Margrave and his sister, demanding nothing less than Alec’s head on a pike.


Where to begin – bloody marvellous is a good start!

The story begins with a death scene -“The bed chamber was darkened and airless. The odour of stale urine, bloody phlegm, and medicinal, pervasive“- which sets the stage for a witty, intriguing and atmospherically dark tale, rounded off with a soul deep romance.

Deadly Peril, the third in the Alec Halsey series, is an incredibly well written Georgian historical mystery, with an accompanying romance. Set in the mid 1700’s, the story begins in London and moves across the sea to the Germanic principality of Midanich, a country in the midst of a debilitating civil war. The new Margrave Prince Ernst’s right to govern is being challenged by his younger half-brother, Prince Viktor. Many at Midanich’s court are unhappy with Prince Ernst’s succession to the throne because of his increasingly odd behaviour, and the control his disgraced twin sister Princess Joanna (rumoured to be mad) exerts over him. The younger charismatic Prince Viktor, barred from the succession because his mother is a commoner, is nevertheless seen by many at court as the future of Midanich, and he has the support of the people.

Into this civil war, steps our amateur sleuth, Alec Lord Halsey. He had vowed never to return to Midanich, but return he must to save the lives of his best friend Sir Cosmo Mahon  and Emily St. Neots, beloved granddaughter of Alec’s godmother, who are being held prisoners. Ten years earlier, as secretary to the British Ambassador to the Court of Midanich, a young footloose and fancy free Alec, handsome and charismatic, became the object of a singular passionate obsession. This, and a very public affair, led to his disgrace and imprisonment. To disclose more would be to spoil the story and readers are advised to unfold the story layers for themselves.

This is a multi-layered story with interwoven plots and many surprises and shocks throughout. All are plausible and exciting and culminate in one mind boggling scene which I thought I had guessed correctly, but was wrong footed by the wily minded Ms. Brant at the last minute.

I am in awe of the author’s scholarship as she apparently takes a year to research and write each novel. I’m not surprised because the geographical content alone is awe inspiring.  Midanich, the country she has created, is so realistic it is hard to believe it is fiction. If a description is particularly well done, I find I unintentionally conjure up memories; this time (and I show my age here) of Omar Sharif with Julie Christie by his side, fur coats, hats and muffs, in the 1965 British film, Dr Zhivago! The freezing, desolate scenery and sledges skimming over frozen landscape – I can recall vividly! That’s what came to mind while reading Ms. Brant’s descriptions of the vast, icy marshlands of Midanich’s northern provinces. What I call “painting a picture with words”.

I can’t even begin to fully articulate my appreciation of Ms.Brant’s extensive historic knowledge, and the incredibly detailed information she incorporates seamlessly into the story – the embroidery on a gentleman’s frock coat and the travelling tea set, left to Alec by his Mother, intricately and meticulously described in the finest detail. A wonderful feast of information woven into the lives and loves of her living, breathing characters.

In the previous books, Alec had seemed almost God-like, romantic liaisons – yes, likeable – certainly but, in this novel, I particularly liked the way it was revealed he hadn’t always made the right decisions. He comes across as even more delectable with his feet-of-clay image; not perfect, just a man. And those “wire-rimmed spectacles” – Lucinda Brant takes the mundane and ordinary and with a few words – voilà – it’s sexy!

His best friend Sir Cosmo Mahon is developed further too. Previously slightly foppish, albeit endearing and kind, we now see a different man, one with more depth and character.  I would really like to see him get his HEA eventually. As usual Alec’s Uncle, Plantagenet Halsey provides comic relief. He is hilarious in his outspokenness and the interactions between him and Olivia, Duchess of Romney-St. Neots is priceless. We even get a glimpse into their past, where it is hinted that they might have, at one time, been attracted to one another – another romance? Now wouldn’t that be fun? Ms. Brant is ever adventurous in playing around with the ages of her characters so who knows? There was another romance hinted at – maybe – but nothing from me on that score as I wish to stay away from the plot to let any readers ,yet to sample this fab offering from Lucinda Brant, the chance of unwrapping it for themselves. Alec and Selina finally get their HEA , after all of their ups and downs, in the most deliciously, romantic way – again nothing further to say on that topic except… sniff!

I must add too that I love the way Lucinda Brant puts so much of herself into her writing. Apart from her obvious love of history and geography, there is the addition of her favourite breeds of dogs. Alec has two greyhounds, Cromwell and Mazarin and, in her Roxton series, the Duke has two whippets, a special little personal touch, one close to her heart, I know.

MY VERDICT: This is yet another fabulous novel from Lucinda Brant and it is hard to grade her books when each one is better than the last and I’ve given 5 stars to all! Simply wonderful – and now I wait impatiently for Alex Wyndham to add his magic touch.




Read November 2015


Alec Halsey Mystery series (Click on the book covers for more details):

Deadly Engagement A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery, #1) by Lucinda Brant Deadly Affair A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery, #2) by Lucinda Brant Deadly Peril A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery, #3) by Lucinda Brant


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