Undue Influence by Jenny Holiday (audiobook) – Narrated by Michael Fell

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Second chances only come around once.

Eight years ago, Adam Elliot made the biggest mistake of his life. Now that mistake is coming back to haunt him. His family’s beloved vineyard has gone into foreclosure, and the new owner is the sister of the only man he’s ever loved – the man he dumped under pressure from family and friends who thought the match was beneath him.

When Freddy Wentworth, aka the bad boy of Bishop’s Glen, left town with a broken heart, he vowed never to return. But a recently widowed friend needs his help, so here he is. He’s a rich and famous celebrity chef now, though, so everyone can just eff right off.

But some things are easier said than done. Despite their attempts to resist each other, old love rekindles – and old wounds reopen. If they want to make things work the second time around, they’ll have to learn to set aside their pride – and prejudice.

Rating: Narration: B-; Content: B

I read and enjoyed Jenny Holiday’s Undue Influence when it came out last year, and having also enjoyed Michael Fell’s performance in Infamous, I was looking forward to listening to their next collaboration. The novel is a contemporary reworking of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, set in the small town of Bishop’s Glen in upstate New York and in it, our parted lovers are Adam Elliot, the son of a wealthy family of winemakers, and town bad-boy Freddy Wentworth. Undue Influence can be enjoyed regardless of whether you’re familiar with the original; and if you are, you’ll enjoy spotting the key plot points and characters the author has carried over and how they’ve been adapted.

Adam Elliot is spending the evening at the family home on the Kellynch Estate for the final time. His father’s death five years earlier, followed by his mother and sister’s insistence on ignoring the worsening state of their finances and spending lavishly, has run their winery business into the ground, and now they’re broke and have been forced to sell up. But even now, the ladies continue to act as though nothing is wrong and are planning a prolonged stay with an old friend in the Hamptons. Adam, however, is perfectly happy to remain in Bishop’s Glen, even though leaving Kellynch is going to be a real wrench for him. He’s always had a strong affinity for the land, and that affinity is what’s kept him in Bishop’s Glen in spite of the constant nagging by his friend and mentor, Rusty Anderson, to leave town and make something of his life.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Undue Influence : A Persuasion Retelling by Jenny Holiday

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Second chances only come around once.

Eight years ago, Adam Elliot made the biggest mistake of his life. Now that mistake is coming back to haunt him. His family’s beloved vineyard has gone into foreclosure, and the new owner is the sister of the only man he’s ever loved—the man he dumped under pressure from family and friends who thought the match was beneath him.

When Freddy Wentworth, aka the bad boy of Bishop’s Glen, left town with a broken heart, he vowed never to return. But a recently widowed friend needs his help, so here he is. He’s a rich and famous celebrity chef now, though, so everyone can just eff right off.

But some things are easier said than done. Despite their attempts to resist each other, old love rekindles—and old wounds reopen. If they want to make things work the second time around, they’ll have to learn to set aside their pride—and prejudice.

Rating: B-

I’ve read and enjoyed a number of books by Jenny Holiday (her m/m romance, Infamous is a firm favourite of mine) and as Persuasion is one of my top two Jane Austen novels (regularly trading places with Emma at the top of the list), the combination of the author and a favourite plotline was one bound to catch my eye.  In something of an embarrassment of riches, this is the second m/m re-telling of Persuasion to appear in the last few weeks (the other is Sally Malcolm’s Perfect Day).

In Ms. Holiday’s take on the story, we’re introduced to Adam Elliot, whose mother and sister have pretty much run the family business (the Kellynch vineyard) and finances into the ground and are about to decamp to stay with a friend in the Hamptons.  All the business of the foreclosure and removal has fallen to Adam, who is happy to remain in Bishop’s Glen, where he’s lived all his life, in spite of the continual urging of his oldest – and pretty much only – friend Rusty, that he should leave town and make something of his life.

Rusty stands in for the Lady Russell character as the bringer to bear of the Undue Influence of the title. Garage owner by day, Drag Queen by night, Rusty has been the only person in Adam’s life who seemed to give a damn about him – and is also the person who talked Adam into making what he now regards as the biggest mistake of his life eight years earlier.

That mistake was, of course, parting from the love of his life, Freddy Wentworth.  Widely termed the bad-boy of Bishop’s Glen (especially after the infamous town-square dick-sucking incident), Adam and Freddy met when they were both working as parking valets at a local hotel.

Adam came limping up to the valet stand and kept on going right into Freddy’s heart.

Ms. Holiday makes good use of flashbacks to tell the story of Adam and Freddy’s romance (through Freddy’s PoV), a device I enjoy when it’s done well, which is the case here.  We don’t get the story of Anne and Wentworth’s romance in the original novel, so I appreciated the fleshing out of the backstory in this way.

Back in the present, Freddy is stunned to learn that the property his sister and brother-in-law have recently purchased in what his best friend calls “the armpit of the Finger Lakes” is the one that formerly belonged to the Elliot family – and in spite of himself, he can’t help wondering what became of Adam.  In the intervening years, Freddy has made good and them some; he and his friend, Ben Captain, have opened a popular and successful restaurant in New York, and have also become a pair of TV chefs, with Freddy being the grouchy Gordon Ramsay type while Ben is the sweetly encouraging one.

Undue Influence follows the storyline of Persuasion fairly faithfully, so we’ve got the McGuires (Lulu and Henry) for the Musgroves, Ben Captain for James Benwick, who, in the original was engaged to Wentworth’s sister (who died), but who, here, has recently lost his wife, and William Ellison for William Elliot, in the original, the distant cousin who takes an interest in Anne but is later revealed to be a rather unsavoury chap.  Some events are, of necessity, omitted or truncated, but even allowing for a degree of dramatic license, I felt that many of the events occurring in the present timeline were rushed or included for the sake of it – just because they were in the original – and the secondary characters are not very well fleshed out.

The youthful romance between Adam and Freddy is sweetly adorable and they have great chemistry; Freddy is clearly deeply smitten and takes every opportunity he can to spend time with Adam, even going so far as to walk home with him, even though he lives miles in the opposite direction, and he shows a side of himself to Adam that he never shows anyone else.  Present-day Freddy tries hard to keep telling himself he hates Adam for throwing him over eight years earlier, but it doesn’t take very long for him to admit to himself that’s BS and that he wants a second chance.

The book’s biggest problem, however, is with the reason for Adam and Freddy’s split, which just isn’t strong enough to explain away the eight year separation of two people who so clearly loved each other and, equally clearly, have never really stopped.  This is always going to be the biggest stumbling block in any modern retelling of this story, because the reasons Anne Elliot gave up her Frederick Wentworth aren’t ones that would work dramatically nowadays.  She was young and from a well-to-do, snobbish family and Wentworth was, at the time, a mere midshipman with neither wealth nor prospects. A young woman in the early nineteenth century was subject to the wishes of her family and Anne was persuaded, by familial and monetary considerations, to reject the man she loved.  In the twenty-first century, those reasons are not believable ones, and unfortunately, Ms. Holiday hasn’t been able to come up with something else which satisfactorily accounts for Adam and Freddy’s separation.

I enjoyed Undue Influence and I liked Adam and Freddy, but the weakness of the pivotal plot point was impossible to ignore.  I’m not sure if my knowledge (and love for) Persuasion is a positive or negative thing; if I’d come to this as an m/m contemporary romance without familiarity with the source material, might I have enjoyed it more?  I’m not sure, because that plot point is still weak – perhaps even weaker if one doesn’t know the reasons given in the original story – and in any case, I can’t “unread” the other novel, so it’s a moot point.

I’m giving this one a cautious recommendation overall; it has a lot going for it in terms of the writing, the romance and the central characters, but there’s no escaping the fact that it’s let down by the big flaw in the premise.

Infamous (Famous #2) by Jenny Holiday (audiobook) – Narrated by Michael Fell

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

All that up-and-coming musician Jesse Jamison has ever wanted is to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. When a gossip website nearly catches him kissing someone who isn’t his famous girlfriend – and also isn’t a girl – he considers the near miss a wake-up call. There’s a lot riding on his image as the super-straight rocker, and if he wants to realize his dreams, he’ll need to toe the line. Luckily, he’s into women too. Problem solved.

After a decade pretending to be his ex’s roommate, pediatrician Hunter Wyatt is done hiding. He might not know how to date in the Grindr world, how to make friends in a strange city, or whether his new job in Toronto is a mistake. But he does know that no one is worth the closet. Not even the world’s sexiest rock star.

As Jesse’s charity work at Hunter’s hospital brings the two closer together, a bromance develops. Soon, Hunter is all Jesse can think about. But when it comes down to a choice between Hunter and his career, he’s not sure he’s brave enough to follow his heart.

Rating: Narration – B+ : Content – A

Rock Star romances really aren’t my bag and that, together with the unappealing front cover of this one, would have been enough to make me pass on Jenny Holiday’s Infamous without a second glance. BUT. One of my fellow AAR reviewers absolutely raved about the book when it came out towards the end of 2017, so when I stumbled across it at Audible, I thought I’d give it a go. And I’m SO glad I did, because it’s wonderful; sweet, sexy and gorgeously romantic, featuring two strongly drawn, attractive principals, a colourful secondary cast and the sort of HEA that is guaranteed to give the listener a serious case of the warm fuzzies and all the feels. Narrator Michael Fell is new-to-me, so I’ll admit to a little trepidation, but I needn’t have worried – he delivers a strong performance that was sufficiently engaging as to enable me to get past the few minor problems.

All Jesse Jamison has ever wanted to do is make music. Well, that and be on the front cover of Rolling Stone – and he and his band, Jesse and the Joyride are steadily making a name for themselves. Unfortunately however, while Jesse is hot, charismatic and extremely talented, he’s also something of a loose cannon, and his latest PR disaster – being photographed kissing someone other than his popular supermodel girlfriend – is the last straw for his manager, who promptly dumps Jesse and the band. Jesse has just boarded the train that will take him home to Toronto from Montréal, where he’s been visiting his sister and his nephew, when he sees the photo online and gets the bad news. He promptly decides to commiserate by consuming as much of the refreshment cart’s alcohol as possible, and invites the attractive man with whom he’s been chatting to join him.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Viscountess of Vice (Regency Reformers #3) by Jenny Holiday

viscountess of vice

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Secrets and lies, scandals and spies.

All Lady Catharine, Viscountess Cranbrook, wants is a little excitement. Bored of playing the role of the ton’s favorite slightly scandalous widow, she jumps at the chance to go undercover as a courtesan to help with an espionage mission. After all, beneath her outrageously low bodice beats the heart of a patriot.

Social reformer James Burnham is conducting a study of vice in England’s capital. Driven by his own secrets, he is methodical, intelligent—and wickedly handsome. Catharine is the last sort of woman the upstanding James should want. But want her he does, though she stands for everything he opposes.

When Catharine and James are forced to band together to advance their causes, they’ll be drawn into a web of secrets and lies that endangers their lives—and their hearts.

Rating: B-

This third novel in Jenny Holiday’s Regency Reformers series is chronologically the first, as it takes place around a year before the events of the first published book, The Miss Mirren Mission. As in the other books, Ms Holiday has taken a slightly different approach to the Regency Romance and the Historical Spy Novel by interweaving those elements into a story in which one or more of the central characters are dedicated to the cause of social reform.

Here, the hero is a doctor who has decided he’d had enough of ministering to fainting ladies and gouty gentlemen and who is now working with the Society for the Comfort and Elevation of the Poor and the Betterment of Their Children, and the heroine is a woman looking for a way to do some good with her life.

Doctor James Burnham is just twenty-four (which seems young for him to have completed his training, practiced for a while and then worked with the Society for a couple of years) and while he is committed to the cause, he feels a little stifled in his work there because he has ended up being their writer, the person who authors and publishes the Society’s findings, rather than being able to run any experiments or investigations of his own. Deciding that perhaps a current study would benefit from the inclusion of some information and statistics on prostitution, he enters a rather select house of ill repute, and is immediately enthralled by the mysterious, masked Lady V, who, it is rumoured, is actually a Lady of Quality who attends the establishment to alleviate boredom and provide her with a little excitement. Unlike the other courtesans, however, Lady V’s services do not go beyond conversation (and no, that’s not a euphemism!) – and surprisingly, her air of sophistication and mystery mean that she is never without gentlemen wishful of being entertained by her… and of perhaps being the gentleman who will tempt her to break her “conversation only” rule.

Catharine, Viscountess Cranbrook, is a widow who followed the drum with her army officer husband. Her life hasn’t been easy – betrayed by a man she believed loved her, she was disowned and bundled off abroad which is when she met and married the viscount, for whom she felt a strong affection and respect. After his death, she determined to reinvent herself; to shake off the pain of her past and live a life of hedonistic pleasure. In the two years of her widowhood, she has earned herself a rather scandalous reputation, taking a string of lovers – but that lifestyle has begun to pall, and, when offered the chance to take part in an undercover investigation into the activities of possible French sympathisers by the enigmatic Earl of Blackstone, she jumps at the chance – and Lady V is born.

Blackstone arranges for Catharine to join the ranks of the high-class courtesans at Madame Cherie’s, where she spends a couple of evenings a week charming likely suspects and ferreting out information. But when the stunningly handsome James Burnham purchases her company, she is disturbed by the feelings he stirs in her; feelings she has worked hard to distance herself from in her quest to turn off her emotions and just live for pleasure.

The earl is investigating one Herr Beidermeier, who owns a gun manufactory in Birmingham which supplies the British Army. When Catharine discovers that he not only uses children in his factory, but that they are unpaid and badly mistreated, she reports this discovery to James, sure that he will want to help her to do something to stop such exploitation. James starts his own investigation into Biedermeier’s business, pretending that he is conducting a prestigious scientific study which will bring fame to Beidermeier by association, while in London, Blackstone and Catharine continue to seek the evidence that will unmask him as a traitor.

Ms Holliday once again tells an intriguing story which is obviously well researched, although there were a couple of times when the ins-and-outs of gun manufacture got a little too detailed for my taste. James and Catharine are engaging characters, each of them having understandable reasons for acting as they do, and I really felt for Catharine when her the life she thought she’d wanted began to unravel and she was forced to choose between the man she loved and her duty to her country. It’s an interesting role-reversal, because so often in spy-stories, it’s the male character who is put in the position of having to lie to or betray a loved one and make those difficult choices.

On the downside, the pacing in the middle flags a little when James and Catharine are apart and pursuing their separate investigations, seemingly separated for good by Catharine’s reluctance to let James get close to her emotionally. The character of James is somewhat underdeveloped, especially in comparison to Catharine, and his actions towards the end of the book seem rather out of character, even though they are prompted by jealousy. In spite of that, however, the author has created a strong sense of affection and longing between them, and the romance is generally well-developed.

Ultimately, Viscountess of Vice is a solid, enjoyable read, and the author does a good job in depicting the heroine’s struggles with her conscience and in her explorations of the difficulties of her situation. It’s a well-told tale, but I can’t say it was one of those books that held me captivated from start to finish. This leaves me saying that it’s worth reading, especially if you’re looking for something different in a Regency Romance, but that it’s probably not one for the bucket list.

The Likelihood of Lucy (Regency Reformers #2) by Jenny Holiday

likelihood of lucy

She would never bow to any man…

London, 1815

Trevor Bailey is on the cusp of opening the greatest hotel in London. His days as a guttersnipe are behind him, as he enjoys a life of wealth, society, and clandestine assignments as a spy in the service of the Crown. Until one tumultuous night churns up the past he’d long left behind…

Turned out by her employer for her radical beliefs, Lucy Greenleaf reaches out to the man who was once her most beloved friend. She never expected that the once-mischievous Trevor would be so handsome and gentleman-like and neither can deny the instant attraction.

But Lucy’s reformer ways pose a threat to the hotel’s future and his duties as a spy. Now Trevor must choose between his new life and the woman he’s always loved…

Rating: C+

I read and enjoyed the first book in Jenny Holiday’s Regency Reformers series, The Miss Mirren Mission, and was keen to read more of her work. She’s written a number of contemporary romances, but these are her first forays into the historical genre, and I’ve found both to be well-written and enjoyable, in spite of some small inconsistencies and niggles. Although this is the second book and the principals from book one appear in it, I don’t think it’s necessary to have read The Miss Mirren Mission in order to be able to appreciate and understand The Likelihood of Lucy.

When Lucy Greenleaf is forced to flee her lecherous employer, she runs to the one person she thinks will be in a position to help her, her childhood friend, Trevor Bailey, a wealthy businessman. As children, they had been inseparable, eeking out a precarious existence in Seven Dials, one of the worst areas of London, scamming and stealing just to fill their bellies. Trevor always felt responsible for Lucy and was determined that if ever an opportunity presented itself, he would make sure she escaped to a better life. That time came when she was eleven, and the pair haven’t seen each other since.

Trevor Bailey may be wealthy, but he has never really left behind the idea of himself as a guttersnipe from the slums. He joined the army and saw active service in the Napoleonic Wars, and also undertook covert missions for the British government, which is where he met the Earl of Blackstone, with whom he still maintains a friendship, and for whom he still undertakes the odd mission.

One of his many business ventures is the opening of a luxury hotel in London, a project which holds much personal significance for him. Lucy has read of this in the news-sheets, and makes her way there, hoping he will help her for old times’ sake. He is stunned to see Lucy so unexpectedly and in such a state, but he takes her in and the two quickly rekindle their friendship. But there’s an undercurrent of something else between them now, an awareness of each other in a way that wasn’t there before which they both find unsettling. I’m a big fan of the friends-to-lovers trope, so this aspect of the romance was one I particularly enjoyed; and the author makes the most of the sexual tension that results from the fact that these two people who haven’t seen each other for years suddenly discover that their old, ragamuffin mate is gorgeous and that they’re attracted to one another.

Trevor offers Lucy a temporary respite at the hotel and offers to help her find a new position as a governess, if that is what she wants. Her previous employer – a viscount – was incensed when he discovered that she was teaching his daughters according to the precepts of the infamous Mary Wollenstonecraft, who is Lucy’s idol. Despite his ignominious treatment of her, she is undaunted in her determination to pursue Mary’s goals and to bring her message of female equality to as many women as possible.

Lucy doesn’t want to be a governess, but she has to earn a living and has no other options. When he realises this, Trevor offers her another post – that of manager of his new hotel, which is due to open within weeks. Lucy has very quickly made herself incredibly useful, dealing with correspondence, appointing staff and working on the accounts, and Trevor knows he needs someone like her, someone with a head for the day-to-day to make the venture a success. Lucy agrees to take the job for six months, knowing that having a woman as manager will be difficult for the male investors in the project to accept. She has quickly come to see that the hotel is more than just another business for Trevor – it’s a project that’s very close to his heart, and she doesn’t want to do anything that could cause it to fail.

But that’s not her only reason for only wanting to stay for six months. Her deepening attraction to her old friend is difficult for her to reconcile with her desire for an independent life and she knows that the longer she stays with him, the harder it will be when she eventually has to leave.

I enjoyed reading The Likelihood of Lucy, although there are a number of minor issues that prevent me rating it more highly. The writing itself is solid, and the romance between Lucy and Trevor is nicely done; their longing for each other leaps off the page and there are some beautifully tender moments between them. Both are likeable characters, but the author’s method of keeping them from pursuing their mutual attraction is rather weak. Trevor still thinks of himself as a kid from the slums, and spends most of the book telling himself that he’s not good enough for Lucy – yet she grew up in the slums, too, and, like him, has made good despite her humble background. And Lucy tells herself that love isn’t for her because Mary Wollenstonecraft was driven to madness by love and she doesn’t want to marry because she doesn’t want to cede control of her life to a man. While I can certainly appreciate her stance and her desire for more independence, her reformist tendencies are presented in such a way as to make Lucy seem rather naïve, and her continual evoking of “what would Mary do?” becomes a little tiresome.

Taking those reservations into account, I can, however, give The Likelihood of Lucy a qualified recommendation, because it held my interest and proved to be an engaging read overall.

The Miss Mirren Mission (Regency Reformers #1) by Jenny Holiday

miss mirren mission

Loving her would be his downfall…

To society, the Earl of Blackstone cuts a mysterious figure. He is eligible, withdrawn, and endlessly fascinating. Yet as an integral part of London’s underground spy ring intent on defeating Napoleon, Blackstone has no mistress but the cause.

Miss Emily Mirren is considered “unbiddable” by the ton. She wields a fierce intellect, which she channels into her own secret cause—writing an abolitionist newspaper column under a male pseudonym.

When Emily’s aims clash with Blackstone’s, they stray into a dangerous game of attraction and subterfuge, and secrets are the going currency. And in order to complete the most important mission of his career, Blackstone must thwart Emily, even if it breaks both their hearts.

Rating: C+

The Miss Mirren Mission is a fast-paced, entertaining story that pairs an intelligent, determined social reformer with a reclusive, somewhat grouchy earl – who also happens to be a crack spy. It’s this author’s first foray into historical romance, and while it does have a number of flaws and inconsistencies, I enjoyed it because her two main characters are engaging and there is a warmth and authenticity to their interactions that lends real depth to their romance.

Eric Woodley, Earl of Blackstone, is a second son who never wanted to inherit a title. Desperate to get away from parents who never held him in much affection and to escape the shadow cast over his home by his mothers’ mental illness, he joined the army and saw action in the Napoleonic Wars. Haunted by the death of his commanding officer, and invalided out of the army after losing a hand, Blackstone was recruited by the British government and now undertakes covert work for them in their continuing efforts to defeat the French.

In order to retain focus and to keep himself aloof from the sorts of emotional entanglements that could distract him from his purpose, Blackstone has cultivated a reputation as something of a bad-tempered recluse. So when he decides to throw a small house-party, there’s only one possible conclusion to be drawn by the marriage-minded young ladies of the ton (and their mamas) – the earl is in the market for a wife. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The gathering has been convened as a way of engaging one Mr Manning – a trader known also to be a smuggler – who Blackstone believes has connections to Le Cafard (the cockroach), the French agent he has been trying to apprehend for years.

Blackstone is more than a little put out when he discovers that one of his guests – Manning’s daughter – has arrived a day early with her cousin, who is also her companion. And he is further unsettled when he discovers this companion to be none other than Miss Emily Mirren, the daughter of his former commanding officer. Still haunted by the manner of Captain Mirren’s death, the earl has taken pains to avoid Emily over the years, running from the guilt he feels at having left the man to die alone.

Emily is an intelligent and outspoken young woman who is dedicated to social reform. Left to the guardianship of her uncle – Manning – upon the death of her father, she remains at her cousin’s side, even though she is no longer her uncle’s ward. Knowing Manning continues to buy and sell slaves, despite the fact that the practice is now illegal in England, she is determined to bring him to book by whatever means necessary. Unfortunately, however, her desire to do so brings her into direct conflict with Blackstone, who can’t afford for Emily to expose Manning before his own investigation has led to the capture of Le Cafard. In order to try to head her off, and for her own protection, Blackstone proposes marriage, but Emily turns him down, insisting she doesn’t want to marry as that will mean the loss of her independence. The earl is annoyed at her refusal, but won’t give up, telling himself it’s because he’s worked too long and too hard to have his schemes ruined by a headstrong woman.

The first half of the story concentrates principally on the burgeoning romance between the brooding earl and the feisty reformer, and it’s by far the best part of the book. During the time they spend together at his estate, Emily and Blackstone become friends and find themselves opening up to the other in a way they never have with anyone else. Their interactions are frequently laced with dry humour and gentle challenge as they circle each other and test the waters of a friendship that is developing into the love neither had ever wanted to find. There’s a tangible spark between them although the love scenes are fairly tame – and I found the use of the “I’m never going to marry so would you mind very much showing me your wedding tackle?” trope to be rather awkward.

The second part of the book is more problematic, however, as the author has crammed so much into her story that there is much that is not sufficiently explored or explained. Blackstone harbours a lot of guilt over the deaths of his mother and brother, as well as for that of Emily’s father, but he seems able to let it go rather easily given he’s spent years beating himself up over them. The mental illness in Blackstone’s family has obviously affected him deeply; Emily’s father was clearly a mentor and father figure to Blackstone, while she is bitter and resentful that he never spent much time with her – these are both elements of the characters’ backstory which are key to their personalities, but which are never fully developed. In fact, the entire second half (or thereabouts) of the book is jam-packed with so many plot-points that the charm of the earlier part – in which Emily and Blackstone spend time together, learning about each other and gradually falling in love – is lost, and the book turns into a fairly ordinary spy story.

That said, however, I would certainly consider reading more historicals by this author, as she clearly has a talent for witty dialogue, the ability to create strong, likeable characters and can craft an interesting story. Taking into account the reservations I’ve set out above, The Miss Mirren Mission is definitely worth a second look if you’re looking to try an author new to the genre.