The Thames River Murders

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Caramel Crush audiobook

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Review #1

Caramel Crush audiobook free

It was so great to take a break from reading traditional regency/victorian romance novels and renew my relationship with Captain Lacey and the gang. In this most recent story, although we get quite a bit of Lacey’s interesting wife, Donata, his daughter, Gabriella, and our favorite supporting character, Lucius Grenville, there wasn’t much about Marianne Simmons, Lacey’s former neighbor and erstwhile actress – now Grenville’s paramour.

In this story, Lacey is called upon by Peter Thompson of the Thames River Police to solve a 15 year old case involving the murder of a young woman whose bones were pulled from the water ten years previously. Mr. Thompson just can’t seem to forget the case and rather than stash it away in the permanent unsolved mystery files, he wants Lacey to take a crack at it.

Lacey’s all too willing to try and solve the mystery – in fact, he can’t seem to help himself. He’s a righteous man in his own way so, he must do what he must do. Donata’s pregnant with Lacey’s baby even as she enjoys getting ready for Gabriella’s come-out ball. Grenville can’t keep his bored self from helping Lacey in his quest and of course, anyone would welcome Grenville’s assistance. After all, he’s cool under pressure, always knows how to behave, has the well deserved reputation of being quite the “man about town” including all the savoir faire, wealth and countenance one could desire… Well, let’s just say that he could quite steal the show away from Lacey with a just a bit of the author’s help. However, Ms. Gardner gives us just enough of Grenville to make us appreciate him, but Lacey remains our man.

Eventually, the story leads the reader into the world of the Jewish community, for it seems that’s where our victim was from. It’s obvious she was well loved by her father and sister with each of them expressing their pain in different ways when they finally understand she wasn’t just missing – no, she’s been dead all these years. Her husband, Bennett, has moved on – in fact, he’s had two more wives since her passing, apparently both had money. So, he immediately becomes the primary suspect.

We have our crime lord, James Denis, who continues to keep watch on Captain Lacey, now considering him “one of his own” – whatever that means. At any rate, we’re accustomed to him continually keeping a hand in any matters affecting Lacey and Lacey’s world. True to form, although Lacey hates to involve Denis in his life, he does continue to call upon him for the occasional favor which serves to sink Lacey and all that’s dear to him more and more under obligation to Mr. Denis.

There’s a very mysterious doctor, another person who James Dennis can call at will, who assists Lacey and Brewster, the man who acts as Lacey’s erstwhile bodyguard/minder/whatever on behalf of Denis and with whom Lacey now has a kind of almost friendship. But, the huge mystery of the book and one that remains unsolved, most likely to come around at a future date is the identity of the “stranger” who is hellbent on doing damage to the members of Lacey’s family who is suspected of being the same person who has been writing threatening letters to Lacey’s family. This mystery is an intriguing juicy tidbit placed before the readers for another book at a future date.

It’s been a lazy day for me here in good old California with the beginning of autumn upon us – a really good day to relax and read a Captain Lacey Mystery. I truly enjoy the manner in which these books are written. The solution is slowly revealed even as we get to enjoy the deepening romantic love between Lacey and Donata, the steady male to male relationship in its infant stages between Lacey and Donata’s young son, Peter and of course Lacey’s deep love for his daughter, Gabriella, along with his often regretful feelings for being separated from her during all those years.

Review #2

Caramel Crush audiobook Series Captain Lacey

First Sentence: The letter, neatly folded at my plate, looked innocuous enough, but I had a sense of disquiet about it.

Someone is threatening Captain Gabriel Lacey by claiming he’s not who he says. When that threat includes an attempt to harm Lacey’s wife’s son, Lacey takes It very seriously. Yet he also has the matter of a decade-dead woman to identify, and a killer to find, and his daughter, Gabriella, who is coming out.

One can greatly appreciate the use of Ms. Gardner’s expressions appropriate to the social class of the period to describe Lacey’s wife—“Donata had been quite a diamond of the first water in her Season.” However, it is interesting to learn of the laws of the period and the control men had over their wives. While women of wealth and position could act and go out independent of their husbands, where women of lower classes could not, for them all, unless a woman inherited directly from her father, it was men who controlled the money, property and the lives of their children. Even further, in this particular book, Gardner addresses the laws with regard to Jews in England at the time.

Followers of the series will be pleased to see how the relationship between Lacey, his wife, daughter and stepson is progressing. However, new readers will not feel the lack of their history and will quickly understand just how unusual is their relationship, even for the time. However, this is by no means a book where the marital relationship overwhelms the story. Far from it. In many ways, the most intriguing relationships are between Lacey; James Dennis a dangerous and powerful criminal; Brewster, the man charged by Denis to keep track of Lacey; and Lacey’s friend Lord Granville, a man of extreme wealth and position whose friendship with Granville helps stave off his own boredom. Lacey is a former front-line soldier and is not without his flaws, the worst being his temper and penchant to hurl himself into potentially dangerous situations—“Captain, you could find trouble inside St. James’s Palace.” But it’s Lacey’s empathy for others, and his determination for justice that makes him a compelling and dimensional character; one who would attract such diverse range of associates.

That the victim and her family are Jewish introduces a new and interesting element. The wonderful scene of Lacey visiting a synagogue leads to a particularly poignant observation—“Any man I’d met of the Hebrew religion had been no different than I was, I’d observed—in fact, many came from circumstances far better than mine, and blended into London life more seamlessly than I did. True, I was able to vote for stand for Parliament…but how did that make me a superior man?” Shades of Shylock from “The Merchant of Venice.”

“The Thames River Murders” is an excellent read, filled with twists, suspense, action, balanced by a touch of relationships and two threads which peak our curiosity of the next book.

Review #3

Audiobook Caramel Crush by Ashley Gardner

I’ve read all of this series so far and found something to relish in every story. The plus point of any good series for me is the development of the cast of recurring characters and AG never disappoints. Other reviews contain comprehensive outlines of the plot and are worth reading so all I will say is that I am loving reading about Lacey’s developing marriage, stepfatherhood and impending new fatherhood, his nurturing of his relationship with his recently discovered daughter and, of course, his complex relationships with Denis and Granville. The plot has a fascinating study of a ‘cold case’ and the usual well-researched details of aspects of London Life: the River Police, the Jewish community and medical treatments; too, there are very interesting details of the lives and legal positions of women. Loving it all!

Review #4

Audio Caramel Crush narrated by James Gillies

I really enjoyed this addition to the Captain Lacey mysteries. I read it in one go and didn’t put it down, as I found the story flowed so well, I could suspend disbelief about the identification of the bones in the story. Lots of good characterisation along with the story telling, with only a cameo appearance by the annoying Marianne.
My one annoyance was the abrupt ending, which resolves the murders but leaves a big mystery to be solved. I felt cheated but have to applaud the author for a good hook to keep reading the series as I definitely want to find out what happens next.

Review #5

Free audio Caramel Crush – in the audio player below

This series gets better and better. A great insight into living in London in the early 19th century and a cracking tale to boot with our hero sticking his nose in where it will get maximum adverse reaction. With the help of his pals, some shady some not, it is eventually sorted out and as a bonus I can follow the complex plot.

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