Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries #1)

by Jennifer Ashley (Goodreads Author)

4.5 stars actually.

Ever since I fell in love with Nicolas Brisbane from Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Grey series I’ve been on the lookout for similar series that combine historical sensibilities with a strong, female lead and a slightly forbidden romance with a dashing investigator. For a while the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber was my only recourse.

But now there’s Kat Halloway. And the cool thing about this series is that not only is there like super cool mystery and intrigue (this one involves Fenians and dynamite and Irish Independence).

Kat is a cook, so not only do we have all of the above, and romance, but we also get Victorian Food Porn. How can you resist a book that uses potted meat as an impetus for figuring out the bad guys’ plans? Or that describes in loving detail the way seedcake is made? Or lingers so breathlessly on brioche in cake pans?

Mmmmm. Good. And also Kat’s no-nonsense flirtation with mysterious jack-of-all-trades Daniel McAdam. The great thing about Kat is she is super practical and super focused on homey details and feeding people. And Daniel swoops in with his intrigues and vague deflections of any questions about his background and more or less just brushes by her practical nature. Its swoony.

Very promising start to the series. It only lost .5 star because I was a bit uncomfortable with how Kat, who is a cook in service to a fickle Lord, was easily able to leave her job for unspecified amounts of time to help Daniel, and also I felt the ending where some people who did bad things were kind of left unpunished wasn’t satisfying for me.

But I’ll definitely check out the next in the series! Gotta find out Daniel’s background!