Tuesday, October 4, 2011

India Black and the Widow of Windsor by Carol K. Carr

Title: India Black and the Widow of Windsor
Author: Carol K. Carr

Genre: Fiction (Historical / Victoriana / Mystery)
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Prime Crime (10/4/2011)
Source: The author.

Rating: Liked very much -- I couldn't finish fast enough!
Did I finish?: You couldn't stop me!
One-sentence summary: Historical Fiction
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I do -- the same model from the first book is featured here, dressed in an outfit mentioned late in the story. You see her eyes, too, which is a huge bonus!

I'm reminded of...: Kage Baker, Laurie R. King

First line: Alafair, you stupid girl.

Did... I discover I've still got a crush on the two leads?: YES. It was a wonderful reunion, too: I grinned like a girl in love as India and French entered the story. Delish!

Am... I going to die waiting for the third book?: YES. Carr drops some hints about India's back story, too, that had me shaking the book and squealing!

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow -- if you've read the first India Black book!  Otherwise, buy it then get this one!

Why did I get this book?: I adored the first India Black book and have been on pins-and-needles to read this one!

Review: I've been waiting for this book pretty much from the minute I finished the first one, and I'm thrilled to say it's a happy reunion.  Everything I loved from the first book -- the humor, the banter, the historical detail, the action scenes, India -- was in this book and I gobbled it up.

Again reprising her role as a Victorian Bond Girl, India is enlisted to go undercover to Balmoral, where Queen Victoria is spending Christmas (rather unusually).  Prime Minister Disraeli (another returning character I was amused to see again) thinks Scottish nationalists will try to assassinate the Queen, so India and dreamy-but-cool government agent French go undercover to protect Victoria and figure out who's trying to do her in.  

Still, despite the adventurous romp and snarky commentary, it wasn't exactly like the first book.  The vibe of the story was far tamer than the first one and India, for a madam, was downright respectable even while scurrying around undercover as a maid.  The feel of the narrative changed a bit, too:  I found myself describing this series to a friend as a slightly risque take on the 'cozy mystery'. Instead of a yarn shop or small-town bakery, you've got a brothel; rather than a pet groomer or retired grandmother, you've got a madam.  But the elements one enjoys in a cozy mystery are found in this one: reassuringly familiar characters, slightly ludicrous plots that are enjoyable nonetheless, a vague romantic entanglement, and a satisfying conclusion.  If the rest of the series keeps this up, I'll be a very happy girl.

The will-they-won't-they thing going on with India and French is amped up a bit in this book which made me pretty gleeful, and Carr drops some exciting hints about French's and India's backgrounds that have me salivating for the next book.  I am hoping it'll feature India the madam a little more as I love the unapologetic (but tasteful) way Carr presents her work, but honestly, India can stand in a shop and sell tomatoes and I would read on with joy. 

Don't start with this one if you're new to the series: even though there's some very quick recapping of the first book, I still think those unfamiliar with the series won't have as much fun than those who've read India Black and enjoyed it.  Pick up both this fall and thank me later!

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I'm thrilled to be able to offer a copy of India Black and the Widow of Windsor to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this simple form. Open to US/CA readers, closes 10/21. For another entry, be sure to come back on October 10 for my interview with Carol Carr!


  1. You have definitely made me interested in this one, love to win a copy. Love this genre and your enthusiasm is exciting.

  2. I'm seriously a hardcore Carol Carr/India Black fan -- I hope you pick up the first book because it's marvelous!!

  3. I have been wanting to read the first in this series for awhile now, and I don't know what's stopping me! It sounds like these books are great fun, and since I love historical that have unusual plots and settings, this series sounds like it would be excellent for me! Thanks for the greatly enticing review! I am adding both of these to my list right away!

  4. Sounds Fab...Love the cover and just my kind read! Thanks for the info.

  5. @Heather: If I could bear to part with my copies, I would force them into your hands -- they're a fun, light, historical fiction action romp, and perfect for quick, painless escape. With nerdiness and snark. They're that good. :) (Have I pushed them enough?? ;))

  6. @Aurora: I love the cover model they use and I hope she keeps being featured on future covers -- she isn't exactly how I envision India but it's close, and I'm a sucker for the dresses!

  7. I just got the first book and I'm really looking forward to reading it and this one too. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. This sounds so good! I haven't read anything by this author yet but I am excited to get the first book in this series and start ASAP! Thanks for the giveaway.

  9. I've never read any of the India Black books but you've definitely got me intrigued now. I'll have to check out the first book although I really don't need yo get hooked on any more series. Lol.

  10. @Darlene: I hate to be argumentative, but you so need to get hooked on this one! ;)

    @Colleen: The books are marvelous -- fun, snappy, fast -- totally great escapist reads!

    @Maria: I hope you love the first one!

  11. This one sounds fantastic. My library has the first one, and I'll pick it up on the way home today. I need a little historical mystery series to hook me now that I've read all the Maisie Dobbs!

  12. Yay eyes! I am so tired of headless cover models. And I really need to read one of her books

  13. I love India Black (thanks, Audra for introducing me to her!) and I can't wait to read this one--don't worry, my copy is already on its way!

  14. Based on your review, this looks like a great read. Always enjoy historical fiction. Cannot wait to read.

  15. Oh I can't wait to read this one! Loved the first!

  16. I would love to read this one! Thanks!


  17. I loved the first one in this series! Can't wait to read more!

  18. Thanks for the giveaway! I'm so anxious to read this book that I mistakenly entered twice. Please ignore my second entry. Sorry!


  19. I haven't heard of this series yet, but it does sound fun. Your enthusiasm is so infectious. I will definitely have to check it out!

  20. Oh, wow, I'm having total cover love! Thanks for the giveaway!

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com