It's 1907 Los Angeles. Mischievous socialite Anna Blanc is the kind of young woman who devours purloined crime novels, but must disguise them behind covers of more domestically-appropriate reading. She could match wits with Sherlock Holmes, but in her world women are not allowed to hunt criminals. Determined to break free of the era's rigid social roles, Anna buys off the chaperone assigned by her domineering father and, using an alias, takes a job as a police matron with the Los Angeles Police Department. There she discovers a string of brothel murders, which the cops are unwilling to investigate. Seizing her one chance to solve a crime, she takes on the investigation herself. If the police find out, she'll get fired; if her father finds out, he'll disown her; and if her fiancé finds out, he'll cancel the wedding. Midway into her investigation, the police chief's son, Joe Singer, learns her true identity, and shortly thereafter she learns about blackmail. Anna must choose - either hunt the villain and risk losing her father, fiancé, and wealth, or abandon her dream and leave the killer on the loose.
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc, what a splendid book! This is one of those times when I struggle to write down my feelings towards the books. I mean it's so bloody good and I loved listening to it. It's one of those books that draw you from the beginning and then not let you go.
Anna Blanc is a plucky and yes a bit naive character. She has grown up quite sheltered from the world and several times during the book is she reminded of that when she sees how those less fortunate are treated. In the beginning of the book is she trying to break free from her father grip by eloping, but it doesn't end that well and now is she stuck with a chaperone that will not let her out of her sight. However, the temptation to apply for the job as a police matron (She has long dreamed of solving crimes like Sherlock Holmes) may make her take drastic methods to ensure that she gets the job.
I found the story to be very engaging and I loved how Jennifer Kincheloe managed to write a story that's both funny and serious. I especially liked how she portrayed the women in the book and men's attitude to them. How they are not taken seriously and often being downright patronized. I often went from happy to angry will listening to this book.
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc is such a wonderful book, and it has a perfect mix of action and romance. Yes, I'm the pickiest person when it comes to romance is loving the more light part of the story and there are several scenes that almost made me laugh when and a certain gentleman friend get a bit frisky with each other.
In the end, I just want to say that Moira Quirk is a perfect narrator. I especially loved how she skillfully voiced the different characters from. There is a fellow called Joe Singer in the book, and he often sings and she does the lines so perfect!
All right, there is so much to say about this book, but I honestly don't want to spoiler anything so I'm going to end it here with telling you all that it's a brilliant book and you should read it!
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review!
Set in 1907 Los Angeles, Anna Blanc is at the top of the social ladder. She has pretty French clothes, a handsome fiance, in vogue friends, and fancy makeup. Yet she longs for more. She secretly reads detective novels and desperately wants to have at least one murder mystery adventure before her life is sealed with a wedding. She comes up with a scheme to become an assistant police matron at the Los Angeles police department, assuming an alias (Anna Holmes) and a rough spun ugly uniform that doesn’t quite hide her lovely form. Pretty soon, Anna learns that this is more than just a fancy whim of hers; real people need her help and are affected by what she does or doesn’t do. However, if she’s discovered by either her father or her fiance, she stands to lose quite a bit. She has to choose between being an obedient daughter and fiance or catching a killer who is murdering prostitutes.
This was such a delightful book! I really enjoyed it. I thought it would be a bit intense, it being a murder mystery and historical fiction. The book does have those qualities, but the author took things a step further and threw in plenty of well-timed humor. First, Anna’s character is a strange yet compelling mix of innocence, curiosity, determination, and sleuthing ability. She’s had a mostly sheltered life so the salty atmosphere of the mostly male police force and the even saltier streets continuously fascinate her. She’s quick to learn, except when it comes to deciphering the reasons for the scowls she gets from certain coworkers.
There’s plenty of sexual innuendos throughout the story. Anna, being nearly completely innocent, misses the full meaning of most of them. Occasionally, another character will take a bit of pity on her and explain things. I also loved the hit and miss budding romance between her and fellow police officer Joe Singer. She first meets him when he’s dressed as a woman and very obviously drunk. Meanwhile, she has to be all proper when passing time with her fiance, Edgar. She wants him to be a little naughty and steal a kiss or two, but he’s all about being proper even when no one’s looking. I especially loved the arrow collar man advertisements and the interesting bit about how hysterical women are clinically treated. Funny and also a little window into the past.
As for the murder mystery, that had me guessing right up to the end. I felt like I had good company though as Anna was guessing up to the end as well. There was also a side mystery concerning a serial rapist that Anna helps close. These mysteries provide a backdrop to show how men and women were treated quite differently in the early 1900s, no matter their social status or skills. For instance, I didn’t realize that women could be arrested for smoking in public at that time. The humor keeps this from being a brow beating on social justice for women.
I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2. By the end of this book, Anna’s life has quite changed from where she started out. She’s a determined young lady but also still a bit prim, a bit focused on expensive girly things, and a bit innocent on how the majority of people live. I’m sure finding out how she handles a bit more first-hand knowledge will make a good story.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Moira Quirk did an excellent job with this book. She was perfect for Anna. I loved how she handled the humor and the innuendos. I would love to hear her blooper reel on this one! I also thought she did a great job with the regional accents, giving a stiff upper lip to the socialites and a more salty accent to masses.
Sarah moved around behind him. Her subtle perfume blended with the smells in the kitchen. “Do you think my label is okay?”
“They’re not judging your label. They’re judging how well the food and wines complement each other.”
“You’re right.” He set the bottle down and turned to greet his friend, but she wasn’t there. In her place stood a siren—that’s the first word that came to mind—in tight leggings that hugged her hips and bared her midriff, and a fitted shirt that tied under plump breasts, showing a hint of cleavage.
What the hell?
But it was the hair that got his attention.
“What have you done to your hair?”
She twirled in front of him, letting her hair swing from side to side provocatively. It looked lighter, and it looked like she had way more hair. “Where are your glasses?”
“I’m wearing contacts. Do you like this look?” She batted her eyelashes at him and moved closer.
He stepped back, aware of an unaccustomed heat he’d never felt in Sarah’s house before. She was his friend. She shouldn’t look like this.
She seemed to be waiting for his answer, but he didn’t know what to say.
She laughed and put her hand on his chest. It left a warm spot there. He couldn’t back up any more, because the edge of the counter was biting into his backside.
“Do you think people will believe we’re a couple now, Mr. Hot Guy?” Her voice was low and sexy, her soft mouth curved into a secret smile.
“Geez, Sarah. You didn’t have to change your appearance.”
“Sure I did. We’re supposed to be a couple in a committed relationship. I have to look like the girls you date. I have to be warm and affectionate, and look at you like you’re my dessert course.” She paused and ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “Let’s see. What would you be? A chocolate soufflé, puffed and pretty on the outside and dark and intense on the inside, with flavors that slide over the tongue and linger there to be savored later, making you crave more.”
The room was suddenly hot. How would he concentrate on wines when she looked—and talked—like that? And how would he keep guys at the resort away from her?
His eyes fixed on her cleavage. “Could you go put on a sweatshirt or something? We need to get down to business.”
Sarah laughed, showing dimples in her cheeks. She had dimples? Why hadn’t he noticed before?
“I’m sorry Sam. The deer-in-the-headlights look on your face is priceless. But you’re going to have to get used to the new Sarah…at least for a week. We need to be convincing. Isn’t that what you said last time you were here?
He shoved his fingers through his hair. “Did I?”
“No more playacting right now. Pour the wines, and let’s start tasting with food.”
This is the 4th book in the Love In Wine Country series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader enjoyment and understanding, I recommend reading series in order.
Sarah & Sam have been best friends for so long, they do not have room to think of more. Now, with this sudden surprise he has thrown her, she is re-thinking everything. She hates that he is trying to control her life and she is so done.
Sam does not know where these feelings are coming from. He only knows he has never thought of Sarah this way before. The future looks bleak without her in it.
Interesting story. I felt drawn to both characters early on. I was rooting for them almost right away. This series is just so sweet and the pace moves right along. I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!
***This ARC copy was given in exchange for an honest review.