I featured this one last week and ever since then I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! The cover fully lured me in as well as the horse racing aspect and I just couldn’t get it out of my head! I had planned to read this one a little bit later this spring when my calendar wasn’t so full but sometimes it just happens like this where I can’t get a book out of my head and then boom here we are reading it way before I planned to !
I have read some of Victoria Thompson’s books but have been limited to the Gaslight Mystery series. They are pretty good and that series especially is a long standing series (I think there are around 25 or 26 books!). She has written a couple of other romance books (cowboy romances) but the historical mysteries have been limited to the Gaslight Mystery series. Then in 2017, Thompson released the first book in her new series, Counterfeit Lady series and this series was born.
I haven’t read any of the other books in this series but I have the books on my radar and now that I have read this one, I think I am going to have to go and check out the other books in the series now. You could pick this one up mid series (which is what I did) without having read the other books, but there are clearly some plots that are established from previous books. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me but I did feel like my reading experience was different than someone who might be reading it from the beginning and in order.
When a day at the races reveals sabotage and subterfuge, Elizabeth Miles must use every ounce of her craftiness to even the score in this all-new Counterfeit Lady novel from USA Today bestselling author Victoria Thompson.
Wealthy but uncouth Sebastian Nolan has invited his lawyer, Gideon Bates, and his lovely new wife, Elizabeth, to attend the famous Belmont Stakes. Nolan is anxious for Gideon and Elizabeth to help his daughter, Irene, acquire a bit of polish, now that his venture into thoroughbred racing has allowed them entry into society. He is also hoping to find her a rich potential suitor. Elizabeth is not exactly the society girl Nolan believes her to be, but she is eager to attend the races. Her con artist family has made a lot of money at racetracks, although not from betting on the horses, and she enjoys the excitement of the track.
Irene Nolan seems more interested in horses than husbands, and she jumps at the chance to show Elizabeth her horse, Trench, and introduce her to his rider, Cal Regan. Elizabeth soon realizes there is more than just a working relationship between Irene and Cal. But she also knows that Irene’s father would never allow his only daughter to marry a jockey. When Cal takes a terrible tumble injuring both himself and Irene’s beloved Trench, Elizabeth and Gideon learn that the mishap was not simply bad luck—the horse and rider are victims of sabotage.
It turns out that Sebastian Nolan has more than a few skeletons in his closet and someone is out to get their long sought-after revenge. Elizabeth knows that to help Irene and Cal, she is going to need some help in creating the quintessential con. With the ever honest Gideon at her side, she enlists those closest to her to come up with a scheme that will either ensure young Irene and Cal a first-place finish or have disastrous consequence (summary from Goodreads)
Personally I would have liked to have read this series from the beginning so I could fully enjoy and understand the relationship between Elizabeth and Gideon. Clearly there is an established and shared history there and I think I would have appreciated their characters more if I had read about them from the beginning. That’s not to say that I was lost necessarily, Thompson does a good job at catching new readers up in the series but we are on book six here and sometimes that’s a lot of ground to cover and get new readers caught up on. So personally I prefer to read the series in order but it wasn’t necessarily a deal breaker here. The story was still good and I liked the characters a lot—enough that I want to go back and read more about them from the beginning. But if this is your first book from the series like me, you won’t be too lost to enjoy it.
As a former equestrian I liked the horse angle of this story. I have been to plenty of racetracks, in fact my old horse was an off the track thoroughbred so I loved the horse angle of this story. I loved that the author really went into detail about the behind the scenes of the racing world and the lives of jockeys. Even still there is a dark world when it comes to horse racing so I thought this was a well done and interesting aspect of the story.
Of course there is a mysterious death in this one and that’s the premise for the book, to solve a mystery. Lately I have been reading more modern and dark, twisty thrillers so this was tame by comparison. However, this was a welcome break from some of the heavier stuff I have been reading, this book was more about sleuthing and solving as crime. Without giving too much away, I wish this book had a couple more twists and personal buy in for the characters but overall it was pretty good and I was invested enough to want to read the other books in the series! If you are a historical fiction fan, especially cozy mysteries then this is going to be a good option for you. I enjoyed this book quite a bit!
Book Info and Rating
Format: 304 pages, kindle edition
Published: December 6th 2022 by Berkley Books
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical fiction, cozy mystery