“Annie Fuller, widow and boarding house owner, supplements her income as financial advisor to wealthy patrons, but under the guise of her alter ego, Madame Sybil, complete with black wig and her star charts. As much as Annie wishes to be able to reveal her talents to the world, she knows this won’t happen in 1880. And Annie needs the income, for every day is a struggle to make enough money to keep herself, and the women who depend on her for a living, afloat.
“I so enjoyed revisiting this house, with its charming characters–Beatrice the cook, Kathleen the housemaid, Barbara, her son, Jamie and his cheery little Boston Terrier, Dandy, and of course, Annie’s love interest, Nate, the handsome young lawyer whose efforts to court Annie frequently rub her the wrong way. Then there’s the author’s ability to make the reader feel how San Francisco must have been all those years ago. The crowded, noisy streets, the fog, and how the city hadn’t yet expanded beyond Portrero Hill or into Sausalito or Tiburon.
“The author never sugar coats how difficult life is for women in this oft glamorized time in American history. From the boarders to the boarding house help, the reader will quickly see how close women live to the edge–from pressure to keep up their hard work lest they be fired from their poorly paid jobs, to having their reputations ruined, which for a “lady” might mean anything from loss of family prestige to being cast out of one’s home). Yet, love, laughter and happiness are threaded through the book. The characters grow, change, become better people–or they are unmasked for the villains they are.
“This new mystery is, once again, cleverly created, with clues, red herrings, and the ending is perfectly done. I highly recommend the entire series.”
––RP Dahlke, Dangerous Harbor
“Ms. Locke’s book is the third in her Victorian San Francisco Mysteries (and she has two short stories in the series too), and she continues the strong characters and interesting views of Victorian San Francisco.
“The mystery in the book surrounds our protagonist, a financial advisor disguised as a psychic, young widow Annie Fuller. She runs a boarding house to support herself, and helps advise the San Francisco elite with their investments by pretending to be a medium; after all, women are thought not to have the brains to provide advice of any kind! Annie’s beau, lawyer Nate Dawson, asks Annie to mentor and sponsor his young sister, Laura, who is a teacher. The plot thickens when angry, accusatory letters begin to circulate about hanky-panky between board members and teachers.
“Ms. Locke’s background as a college professor (recently retired) of U.S. History and Women’s History have proven to be a boon in her writing of this dynamic series. Although the books stand alone well, I recommend that you start with the first book, Maids of Misfortune, so you can appreciate fully the growth of the characters and beauty of the San Francisco setting.”
––Laura Strathman Hulka for Story Circle Book Reviews
“These make great bed-time reading. They won’t give you nightmares, but you will quickly feel a part of Nate and Annie’s world. And as the novel gathers pace towards the end, this becomes a genuine page turner – not least because the writer has allowed us to become so fond of her well drawn cast of characters.”
––Catherine Czerkawska, The Curiosity Cabinet
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