The theme for this latest Sebastian St.Cyr book is based upon the 1833 poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shallot, and the tales of King Arthur. The Tennyson family both real and made-up for the book feature in the book, as does Alfred himself who is aged 3. Don't read any further if you haven't read the other books. This isn't a stand alone series, the other books need to be read in sequence.
It is 1812 and Sebastian and Hero Jarvis have been married a few days and are about to embark on their honeymoon to Sebastian's country estate to get to know each other better. Then they receive a message that Hero's good friend, amateur archeologist and writer of a work on King Arthur and Camlet Moat, Gabrielle Tennyson has been found murdered and floating in a boat on Camlet Moat in London. Also, Gabrielle's young cousins, George and Alfred Tennyson, aged 9 and 3, are missing.
Sebastian's friend, Sir Henry Lovejoy, asks him to help investigate the murder and Hero has investigations of her own to follow up. Namely, her father Lord Jarvis, the Machiavelli behind the Hanovarian throne. Poor Hero is torn between her loyalty to her father and her loyalty towards her new husband.
Camlet Moat is thought by some to be the site of Camelot, as it was once called that and there is proof that not only an ancient castle once stood on the site, but that a Roman fort did as well, putting it in the right time period for King Arthur, "the once and future king".
Sebastian and Hero are beginning to feel burgeoning love for each other, however they are both keeping secrets from each other and both working separately on this case and not fully communicating with each other, "We can do better than this" Hero tells Sebastian later.
The case is complicated by various members of the Tennyson family, a French soldier, and a tall dark man with yellow eyes who looks very like Sebastian. Who is the latter and what relationship does he have to Sebastian?
Very enjoyable. As with all C S Harris's books in this series, do read the author notes at the end. I hope that she continues to write this series.
First Sentence: Tessa Sawyer hummed a nervous tune beneath her breath as she pushed through the tangled brush and bracken edging the black waters of the ancient moat.
Sebastian St. Cyr and his new wife, Hero Jarvis, married for proprietary due to her pregnancy. There is occasionally passion between them, but not yet trust. Will investigating the murder of Hero's friend Gabrielle Tennyson and disappearance of two children begin to build that bridge? The people's dislike of the Regency, and the continuing myth that King Arthur will return to reign in England lead the investigators from the poorest to the wealthiest areas in search of a killer.
A well-done opening with lyrical, evocative descriptions quickly turns brutal in this new entry to the St. Cyr series. Her inclusion of poetry adds a sense of period and style to the story. She also does a wonderful job of blending the historical information of different periods.
The characters are certainly captivating although the author being more clear as to Sebastian's age might explain the character better. While he has been a soldier in war, there are times he seems quite emotionally immature. The mystery regarding St. Cyr's heritage is an intriguing thread that runs though the series and becomes even more interesting here. I am sorry that the series has become almost more romantic suspense and emotion-driven and suspenseful mystery.
Harris writes with a wonderful style, able to convey the sense of emotional undercurrents without elaborate description. The tentativeness of the relationship between St. Cyr and Hero is very well done. I also appreciated that while Hero is investigating the death of her friend, it is in a manner appropriate to the period.
It is the relationships that provide the central theme of the story and the mystery does, at times, become a bit overwhelmed by them. So much so, in fact, that I had to go back and re-check the ending as I had forgotten one of the critical plot points. That said, however, the story does have a very good twist, effecting more than the plot of this story alone, excellent drama and suspense, and a very well-done ending.
Although I was somewhat disappointed in the previous book, WHEN MAIDENS MOURN, is a step in bringing the series back to what made it so appealing in the first place--great characters, wonderful descriptions and quite a well-written plot, as long as it doesn't become mired in emotional angst. It is, however, definitely a series to start from the beginning with "What Angels Fear".
WHEN MAIDENS MOURN (Hist/Mys-Sebastian St. Cyr-England-1812) - G+
Harris, C.S. - 7th in series
on 4 April 2013
The St. Cyr mysteries are another excellent series. I enjoy the interaction between the characters even if some of their actions stretch my belief somewhat. I do like Hero and Sebastien and look forward to further installments and development of these characters
on 26 December 2014
Our awesome hero, Sebastian, and Hero were married at the end of the last book and just as though it appears they will have a real marriage with respect and passionate nights, we realize they have a lot further to go before they will settle into a truly comfortable, happy life with one another.
But... what makes Sebastian such a wonderful character and the primary reason I am drawn to this series of books is the fact he's all that's honorable and he seems to be able to readily make the right choices regardless of what it has cost him emotionally. I still go back in my mind to the comment he made to Hero when he was trying his best to get her to agree to marry him, due to the baby they had created when they were stuck together in the darkness with both of them thinking they would drown in a few minutes. The words he spoke - "I will never give you cause to regret marrying me" even when he still loved Kat have resonated over and over in my mind.
So even as we find comfort in the way Sebastian is dealing with the wife he really didn't want, this book is first and foremost another mystery who-dun-it. In fact, the romantic parts of this series will always take second place to the solution of the mystery which is a bit difficult for me because I find Sebastian's character as a lover, as a husband, even as a son, brother and nephew so intriguing.
The who-dun-it part of this story relates to a young woman, Gabrielle Tennyson, who was a scholar and friend of Hero's whose dead body is found in an area near London she had been investigating, in the hopes of determining whether not it was the true site of Camelot. She's not from an aristocratic background, but a genteel background and although she and Hero weren't from the same level of society, they were drawn together because they are both forerunners of the emergence of women who wanted more freedom to do and be what they could be without all the restrictions and barriers set against them just because they happened to be born female.
To this end, Hero does her own investigation even as Sebastian is called upon once more by his old friend, Henry Lovejoy, to help solve the mystery of Gabrielle's death. The mystery is further complicated by the disappearance of Gabrielle's two young male cousins who were spending time with her.
On a personal side, Sebastian runs across an individual who could pass for his brother, a man who has the same color of eyes, can see in the dark and was a sharp shooter in the army. This part is exciting to me because I love to read about the mysteries surrounding Sebastian's origins coming to light. We get to have juicy tidbits revealed over the course of the books, which, for the characters within the pages of the book are only a few months, but for those of us who are reading the books, can take up to two years between books. So, these tidbits are to be treasured for sure.
I love these books. What can I say? Five Stars all the way.
on 30 March 2014
Book 7, in the Sebastian St.Cyr Mytery series
This is my first experience reading this author, although I did so with the 7th installment I never felt lost or that I had missed anything of importance. I molded right into the story and enjoyed the mystery at its fullest. The series is set in Regency England at the beginning of 1800’s and features Sebastian St. Cyr, an aristocratic sleuth, now Viscount Devlin.
The 7th book brings Devlin and his new bride, Hero Jarvis, to put their honeymoon on hold to investigate to the best of their own abilities the mystery behind the death of Hero’s friend, Gabrielle Tennyson, whose body was found floating in a boat in Camlet Moat. We follow them as they search Inns and many grimy black alleys, meet panoply of individuals and in rural London how they dealt with Celtic paganism so revered by most.
This is a fast moving story with many red-herrings. The plot is a strong one and offers intriguing characters. There are more layers added when Sebastian and Hero struggle to unmask the true murderer, one among a mass of suspects. To stitch everything together are political intrigues, family secrets and Napoleonic plots, some are facts and some fiction. This is a well written story in tone and places with numerous dialogues and a little romance to please the reader. I like Sebastian he is definitely not the brightest detective around in fact quite clumsy but he is fun to follow. As for the other characters they are so numerous I easily lost track of some.
Although I did enjoy this book I question if it is worth back reading the installments I skipped or simply continue from here……
on 24 December 2012
I really like this series and was delighted to be able to get this latest installment via Kindle. The story was up to par, the historical setting was fantastic as always and I particularly enjoyed the the budding romance between reluctanr husband and wife.....more please.
on 22 September 2013
Interesting. Camlet moat does actually exist. I wrote a book about its many mysteries.
London's Camelot and the secrets of the grail.(you'll find it on Amazon). ASIN:095159673X London's Camelot and the Secrets of the Grail.
Must get a copy of this new mystery and would love to know how CS Harris came tp know about Camlet.
Did she find my book by chance or does she have connections in North London where mysterious
Camlet holds its secrets.
I'll post a proper review when I have bought my copy of her book.
And if any readers are in north london, do visit Camlet moat. It is a magical spot in the northern woods of Trent Park.
on 19 August 2013
I have really been enjoying this series and friends and family both male and female have read this series and are hooked. Just enough romance to make it believable but full of suspense.
on 12 March 2013
A well written novel. Pure escapism. C.S. Harris is a clever writer of this genre. If you enjoy Georgette Heyer you will like these novels