Book Review|A Lesson in Love and Murder by Rachel McMillan


Title: A Lesson in Love and Murder

Series: Herringford and Watts Mysteries, #2

Author: Rachel McMillan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Pages: 224

Published: September 1st 2016

Format: eARC



From political danger to personal drama, life is about to get explosive…

The legacy of literary icon Sherlock Holmes is alive and well in 1912 Canada, where best friends Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts continue to develop their skills as consulting detectives.

The city of Toronto has been thrown into upheaval by the arrival of radical anarchist Emma Goldman. Amid this political chaos, Benny Citrone of the Royal North-West Mounted Police arrives at Merinda and Jem’s flat, requesting assistance in locating his runaway cousin—a man with a deadly talent.

While Merinda eagerly accepts the case, she finds herself constantly butting heads—and hearts—with Benny. Meanwhile, Jem has her hands full with a husband who is determined to keep her out of harm’s way.

As Merinda and Jem close in on the danger they’ve tracked from Toronto to Chicago, they uncover a sinister plot to assassinate presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt. Will they be able to save the day and resolve the troubles threatening their future happiness before it’s too late?

Independence, love, and lives are at stake in A Lesson in Love and Murder, the gripping second installment of the Herringford and Watts Mysteries series.



Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchanged for an honest review. Thank you!

This is the second novel in the series Herringford and Watts Mysteries by R.McMillian. The first novel is called  The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder and you can read my thoughts on it here.

What can I say? I think I’ve found a new favorite series! I liked the first book a lot, but the second one was so much better.

You see, when it comes to historical fiction, it is hard to find a novel that balances the history with the action/fiction. It’s either a lot of history, with little action; or a lot of fiction, and the history is just a minor sub-plot. Even when both are present, sometimes the story dose not move forward easily. I still read and enjoy a historical novel with these flaws, thou.

A Lesson in Love and Murder, however, has all the elements for a great historical novel. It balances the history with the action perfectly. The writing is captivating, and it pulls you into the story. The pace is medium-fast, so you can read it in one day – if you have the time. The first book was also great – history, action, romance- but it was a little bit hard to get into sometimes; it went from great moments, to boring ones, back to great moments. The second novel dose not have this problem at all. In other words, the writing improved. Which is great! [no, it was not bad in the first book; it’s just better here – in my opinion, of course]

Just like the first book, this novel has four protagonists: Jem, Merinda, Ray, and Jasper. Benny is a new character, and he plays a major part in this novel – he’s a temporary main character in this series, if you will. The point of view switches from one character, to another one – the five just mentioned. However, that’s not a problem at all. The voices are clear, and I could figure it out really fast who is who. There is also a smooth transition from one point of view, to another one. The fact that the novel is a third person narrative is also helpful – it makes it easier to distinguish between the characters.

Old secondary character also make an appearance – Vi, Tony, Luca and so on. New secondary characters are introduced as well. I’m no going to say anything about them, because they play important roles, and I don’t want to spoil the fun.

There is a little bit of romance in this book. Jem and Ray continue their relationship, they overcome problems, and become stronger. Merinda is not Ice Queen anymore – she finally has some romantic feelings for someone. Jasper has some bad luck in the romance department. In general, the romance is a sub-plot, not the main plot – but it does add a nice layer to the story.

My favorite thing about this book is the fact that the writer, Rachel McMillan, managed to bring to life the 1912s. It was so easy for me to imagine how it was back then, and to be pulled into the story. The characters, the world-building, the dialog, the clothes – everything fits with the story.

Another detail that I enjoyed is the fact that the book is set in Toronto, where I live. I could actually see Jem or Miranda walking on Young Street, or on King’s. The Lake Ontario. The Union Station. The houses. It’s so interesting to read a story set in the city you’re living in.

One more thing. The main plot is Miranda and Jem solving a mystery.Finding clues, putting the pieces together, going undercover and so on. Something like this:


However, the book deals with other issues as well: family, social classes, working women vs married women, women rights, immigrants right, working class rights, friendship, betrayal, life, beliefs. I like the fact that it tackles many themes, and questions problems. I would say that some problems that are mentioned in this novel, are still present in our society. For example, politicians vs people – how easily people are fooled by empty words; how eager they are to put their faith in a person that promises s/he will make their lives better; and so on.

I don’t think I have any criticisms. I can’t find anything to complain about.

Merinda annoyed me a little bit, but I think that’s part of her personality, her character development, and her journey. She’s that kind of character that you have a love-hate relationship with (hate is a strong word, thou). And you cannot wait to see how she’ll grow and develop.

Overall, a great novel and a wonderful sequel to The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder. I really enjoyed it. I think it’s the best historical novel that I read this year – and I read quite a few. I will continue this series!

I recommend this series, especially to those who like historical novel and independent women as protagonists. Also, it’s not YA, but it can be read by teenagers as well. Give it a try, you’ll love it!

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