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Point of Honour Hardcover – 26 Jun 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; 1 edition (26 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031287202X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312872021
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 3.1 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,621,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"An utterly charming and intriguing visit to a 'different' Regency London . . . Readers will find putting down this adventure with the intrepid Sarah Tolerance intolerable." -Rosemary Stevens, author of "Death on a Silver Tray"

About the Author

Madeleine E. Robins lives in New York City. Her previous novel, "The Stone War," was a New York Times Notable Book.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Sep 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
i was hooked from the very first paragraph "it is a truth universally acknowledged that a Fallen Woman of good family must,soon or late,descend to whoredom" - the heroine on the contrary becomes an Agent of Enquiry the sole one of her kind in the England of 1810. I can thoroughly recommend this - not least because of the amazing twist in the tale. One quibble was Ms Robins changing historical facts but the story itself carried me along. I will certainly purchase the second in the series
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Sep 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved this Regency detective story. Sarah Tolerance is a great, feisty heroine and the mystery is well constructed. Great period atmosphere, too. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Dec 2008
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Fallen Woman of good family must, soon or late, descend to whoredom.

Sarah Tolerance is a disowned daughter of nobility who now lives in a cottage behind a high-class brothel and who acts as a private inquiry agent. She is hired by Count Verseillon to locate and retrieve an antique fan he's given to a lady when he was younger. What should be a relatively simple undertaking becomes less so when Sarah is attacked and others die.

For a purely fictional story, this was enjoyable. However, as historical fiction, this is definitely not the book for the historical purist and I was disappointed. The author plays fast and loose with historical facts and social details. Although she acknowledges it, I still found it disruptive.

The story, itself, was quite enjoyable and well plotted. It was a good mystery and there were things I did enjoy about it. There was one incident toward the end I felt was handled in an unlikely way and the romance felt superfluous.

I probably will read another, but more because I already have it rather than because I would now intentionally seek it out and there are other authors I would recommend instead.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 37 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Fine historical mystery: a "Hardboiled Regency" 29 Oct 2003
By Richard R. Horton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The time is 1810. The Queen Regent is clinging to life while her children, the ineligibly married Prince of Wales and the scandalous Duke of Clarence scramble for position in the event of her death. Sarah Tolerance is a Fallen Woman -- when a teen she fell in love with her brother's fencing instructor and ran away to the Continent. But her lover has died, and she has returned to England. Her reputation is ruined, her father has repudiated her, she is an ancient 28 years old. What can she do? She is taken in by her Aunt, another Fallen Woman, who runs a very successful bordello. But Sarah has no interest in working for her Aunt, so instead she sets up as what we would call a Private Investigator, often turning up evidence for Society women of their husbands' infidelity.
Sarah receives a new commission asking that she retrieve an Italian fan, that may be in the possession of a retired working woman named Deb Cunning. Trux's unnamed boss is willing to offer quite a bit more than the fan is worth for its retrieval. Sarah's job is complicated by the fact that Deb Cunning has likely changed her name. But Sarah soon finds some interesting leads. However, her job is quickly complicated, as it soon seems that this fan is of considerable interest to both sides in the current political wrangle. Worse, a couple of people involved in the search turn up dead -- one is a close friend of Sarah's, the other is a woman she has visited to ask for information -- her visit timed to make her a suspect in the murder.
Sarah finally learns who her real client is -- the handsome, youngish, Earl of Versellion, who is in line to be Prime Minister if the new Regent chooses to back a Whig government. Sarah finds herself greatly attracted to Versellion, all the while exasperated by the paucity of information on the importance of the fan. This attraction deepens when she and Versellion have to go on the run in rural England, apparently under threat of murder.
The novel nicely intertwines political intrigue, an interesting mystery about the real nature of the hidden fan (with a guessable but satisfying solution), romance, action, and a nice ending with an extra twist or two. Sarah herself is an interesting heroine, and I'm glad to know that at least two further novels are planned.
The main appeal is likely to mystery readers first: particularly those who enjoyed the late Kate Ross's Julian Kestrel stories, or those who enjoy Anne Perry's Victorian mysteries. Secondarily, readers of Regency romances may enjoy the book: though it does not follow standard Regency plot conventions, it does have a nice romance at its core. It's a fine historical mystery story, or if you will, a "hardboiled Regency". (Serious historical readers will note that the book is actually set in a slightly altered history.)
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Alternate history Regency romance political intrigue mystery 11 July 2006
By R. Kelly Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Or perhaps it's a murder-mystery, spy-thriller, historical-romance alternate history. Difficult to say which aspect is the most important!

Robins' Regency England is not quite ours - there's a Queen Regent rather than the Price of Wales being named regent, and a few other political and social differences as well. Since part of the plot hinges on the actions of the Queen Regent and of the Prince of Wales, this is an important item. If you're someone who reads historical novels for their accuracy, be aware that this will NOT fit into Napoleonic wars of Patrick O'Brien's books, or the parties at the Prince Regent's Brighton pavilion, or other bits of history that many readers look for. Even the demimonde that is the setting of much of the book is not quiiiiite the same.

It should also be pointed out that it's not really a romance - not in the same sense that books marketed as Regency romances are. While there's a love interest, and it's the Regency period, there will be relatively little of the pleasantly trivial dialogue and naive double-entendres that readers of the usual Regencies expect. It's not about the young ladies making their comings-out, and the balls and country house parties, or even about the governesses and the whole servant thing, that provide the background for many romances. In fact, the rather frank settings in both our heroine's aunt's brothel and others, may turn off those who are looking for the usual light romance.

That said, if you are prepared for the differences, this is a top-notch book. Looking for the minute differences that make it an alternate history provides an enjoyable challenge; they political intrigue and murders are as fascinating as any historical novel and better done than many. Our main character is a strong person who makes you want to know more about her (and there is a second volume in the series, Petty Treason.) And the ending is done in a classic murder-mystery style that is satisfying whether it's in Agatha Christie's countryside, or a city a century earlier, or in modern-day settings. The mystery plot line (which I won't rehash here, since other reviewers have already told you enough about it) is the strongest part of the book, and that's saying a lot given how interesting the other aspects are.

If I had to try and draw a comparison, I'd say this is closer to the historical vampire novels of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro than any other single comparison I could name, even though there are no fantasy elements in this book. The sense of depth of the settings, and the author's emphasis on the personality of the characters, are similar in their intensity.

I will be awaiting a third volume; I only wish authors could write 'em as fast as I read 'em!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Fresh and Fun 'Regency Noir' 18 Aug 2003
By Kathbyrd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In her afterward, Madeleine Robins describes her own novel as a 'hard boiled' Regency detective story. The disreputable private eye holding onto the vestiges of his code of ethics even while he takes on unsavory divorce cases is translated into Sarah Tolerance. Sarah is a well bred lady who ran off with her fencing master, marking herself as a Fallen Woman. Sarah now takes on inquiries, following philandering husbands for their suspicious wives. The classy dame in distress becomes a handsome nobleman who needs our heroine's help. Our maltese falcon is an Italian fan -- surely not worth all this trouble -- yet someone seems willing to kill in order to reach it before our heroine. I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah, her world (historically accurate in spirit, if partly adapted to the author's purpose), and her adventures. Madeleine Robin clearly had fun writing this novel, and the ending left room for a second. I'll look forward to Sarah Tolerance's next case -- and for Ms. Robin to find room within her self-invented genre for even more depth.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Pride, Prejudice and P.I.'s 30 Jun 2004
By P. Bradley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really can't praise this book enough. Not only does the author interweave Jane Austen's Napoleonic era neatly with a female P.I.'s life--she also tosses in great fight scenes, heart-rending portraits of poverty, perfect dialogue, vicious political sceming and beautiful characterizations. Four characters of special note are her wistful but capable heroine, a loony botanist who inadvertently provides a major clue, a serene ex-farm girl turned sucessful courtesan and the heroine's aunt, a ruthless yet forward-thinking madame. Can't wait for the next in the series, especially now that the Prince of Wales owes our heroine a big favor.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
exciting Regency investigative tale 10 May 2003
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Aristocrat Sarah Tolerance gave away more than just her name and reputation when she romantically ran off with her brother's fencing master. When her beloved dies, Sarah looks at her options, her family not truly being one as she brought scandalous shame on them already. The adage of 1810 England is that Fallen Women always at some time turn to the only profession the Ton allows for them, whoring. Sarah vows she ill never sell her body.
Instead she becomes an "investigative agent" handling "private matters" where discretion and finesse count, traits Bow St. lacks. Her work means no direct references from her wealthy clients, who will expect silence while employing her. Lord Trux hires Sarah, claiming he represents a nameless friend, to recover a family heirloom fan that was given with youthful enthusiasm years ago to Mrs. Deborah Cunning. Though he says little else, the case seems simple enough to Sarah, but that is before she finds competitors willing to kill her to obtain the fan and her rivals seem to know her every move.
This exciting Regency investigative tale provides the audience with a different look at the era than typical of romances or mysteries set in that period. The story line grips the reader from the first observation made by the heroine about options available for Fallen Women. The plot moves forward rather quickly as Sarah goes about her job while trying to stay alive. Sarah is a delightful intelligent sleuth whose adventure will make Madeleine E. Robins a sub-genre favorite.
Harriet Klausner
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