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It's the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie's husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt. Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Mada It's the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie's husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt. Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco's most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl's clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe his death was suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie believes Voss has been murdered and that his assets have been stolen. Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn't leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior. Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco.


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It's the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie's husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt. Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Mada It's the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie's husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt. Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco's most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl's clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe his death was suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie believes Voss has been murdered and that his assets have been stolen. Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn't leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior. Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco.

30 review for Maids of Misfortune

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    4 stars to M. Louisa Locke's Maids of Misfortune, the first book in the "Victorian San Francisco" mystery series and a great blend of murder mystery charm and historical shenanigans. I found the book on Amazon as a free Kindle e-read and thought it would be something slightly different... and it was a welcome read I recommend for anyone looking for a historical cozy. Story Annie Fuller is a 26-year-old widow, owning and operating a b&b out of her Victorian home by day, and working as Madam S 4 stars to M. Louisa Locke's Maids of Misfortune, the first book in the "Victorian San Francisco" mystery series and a great blend of murder mystery charm and historical shenanigans. I found the book on Amazon as a free Kindle e-read and thought it would be something slightly different... and it was a welcome read I recommend for anyone looking for a historical cozy. Story Annie Fuller is a 26-year-old widow, owning and operating a b&b out of her Victorian home by day, and working as Madam Sybil by night (no, not a harlot!). She's not exactly psychic, and definitely not interested in a seance or a crystal ball; she's a financial wizard who helps people make money by reading their astrology and horoscopes. As a woman in a man's world, nearly 150 years ago, she had to pretend she was just clairvoyant in order to build her client portfolio and be successful. But when her favorite customer appears to commit suicide, she's just not having it. With all the protocols of 1879 in tow, she disguises herself as a maid in her former client's house to discover which member of his family killed him for the money he had just made in the stock market. Along the way, she stumbles upon a second death and is able to convince the police that her former client's death wasn't suicide. But she's also earned a few enemies who don't believe she's a real maid. With a cast of friends and clients helping her keep up the ruse, Annie investigates using good ole' fashioned wit and gossip, given there are no computers, cars or cell phones. But she's got another problem to deal with too... her late husband, that buffoon, left her with an enormous debt and the loan shark is trying to steal her b&b out from under her in order to even the score. Who knew the 70's... the 1870's... had so much murderous fun!?!?! Strengths 1. The plot is strong and full of red herrings. The struggle to find the killer without any modern technology or transportation provides an entirely different (and long forgotten) mode of investigation: using yours words, your eyes and your ears. 2. The Victorian setting is charming and offers a much needed change of pace for the cozy murder mystery. Readers will flock to Agatha Christie's quaint English villages, but here's a perfect setting for historical American heritage. And who doesn't love San Francisco... especially in the 1870s... Gold Rush! Publishing! Horse-drawn carriages! Suggestions 1. The pace is a little slow. It's not at all bad or painful, but I think it could use a little extra spice. It fits with the time period, but I think with a bit of panache, the story would jump even further off the page. Cover a little more about what's happening in SF at the time. Add some history to the founding families. Relate it to a modern reader so they invest a little more for the whole series. 2. Explore more about Madam Sybil. She's great... I want to see her in action and understand how she works! Final Thoughts There is something different here... something worth giving a chance. If you're a historical fiction fan, with a potential interest in mystery, pick it up and read it. There is a lot of description about life in the 1870s, which will appeal to traditional readers. If you love cozies, the "small, cozy little town" isn't part of this series; however, the mindset and the relationships are absolutely one on the same: gossip is abound and people know exactly what to say. I look forward to the next book in this series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyuda

    A historical mystery set in post-gold rush day of San Francisco that features a widow /boarding house owner/ fortune teller who actually dispenses investment advices. Sounds like a very interesting premise. Unfortunately, the novel was only marginally entertaining for me. With such a historically rich setting, the plot was surprisingly slow and boring with stilted dialogue. When writing historical fiction featuring a strong and independent heroine, there is always a danger of overdoing it and ma A historical mystery set in post-gold rush day of San Francisco that features a widow /boarding house owner/ fortune teller who actually dispenses investment advices. Sounds like a very interesting premise. Unfortunately, the novel was only marginally entertaining for me. With such a historically rich setting, the plot was surprisingly slow and boring with stilted dialogue. When writing historical fiction featuring a strong and independent heroine, there is always a danger of overdoing it and making her behavior neither believable nor real. This was the case here. And not necessarily because the heroine was too forward or too 21st century in her thinking. There was that, of course. If only she stayed consistent... I don't think I would continue with the series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    Hmmm, this was okay. It's a light and cheesy murder mystery. Annie Fuller gets involved in a murder and tries to help solve it. Police & lawyer friends leak her information. Dialogue is uneven. The ending is unlikely, to say the least. I can't say I disliked the story but for the most part it had me raising an eyebrow over the shifts in direction, the police who can't read a clue (but Annie can). Lots of red herrings and misdirection, most of it obvious. 2-star = "it was okay". Exactly. Meh. Hmmm, this was okay. It's a light and cheesy murder mystery. Annie Fuller gets involved in a murder and tries to help solve it. Police & lawyer friends leak her information. Dialogue is uneven. The ending is unlikely, to say the least. I can't say I disliked the story but for the most part it had me raising an eyebrow over the shifts in direction, the police who can't read a clue (but Annie can). Lots of red herrings and misdirection, most of it obvious. 2-star = "it was okay". Exactly. Meh.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    It can be difficult for me to read books about San Francisco; it irritates me when they take too many liberties, and it annoys me when they get things wrong. That said, Victorian San Francisco was done well, and I felt like the setting was well handled; it was S.F., but it wasn't overdone, and it was never really about the city. Rather, the book was about Mrs. Annie Fuller, the widow who has found a way to eke out a living by running a boarding house and offering financial advice as the clairvoya It can be difficult for me to read books about San Francisco; it irritates me when they take too many liberties, and it annoys me when they get things wrong. That said, Victorian San Francisco was done well, and I felt like the setting was well handled; it was S.F., but it wasn't overdone, and it was never really about the city. Rather, the book was about Mrs. Annie Fuller, the widow who has found a way to eke out a living by running a boarding house and offering financial advice as the clairvoyant Sybil. Things get complicated, however, when an old associate seeks to call in her dead husband's debts and a friend turns up dead. I found myself satisfied by the story, the developments of characters and relationships felt natural and well paced. I didn't feel like anyone was terribly unbelievable, and I hadn't solved the mystery within the first couple chapters, all of which bodes well for the title. There are seemingly more titles forthcoming by this author, and I'm likely to seek them out, as this one was very good.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Norain

    Started as a pleasant enough read, only to end not as a mystery left alone a detective novel, but a romance. And a sloppy one at that too. The criminal was predictable as was the plot and even an attempt to try and tempt the reader into guessing the wrong person as the perpetrator was a weak one. Dwelt too much on the feeling Annie and Nate had for each other, and one could not help wonder why all the twist if the story would end as easily and untroubled as it was? Should have put more Sybil in Started as a pleasant enough read, only to end not as a mystery left alone a detective novel, but a romance. And a sloppy one at that too. The criminal was predictable as was the plot and even an attempt to try and tempt the reader into guessing the wrong person as the perpetrator was a weak one. Dwelt too much on the feeling Annie and Nate had for each other, and one could not help wonder why all the twist if the story would end as easily and untroubled as it was? Should have put more Sybil in there.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte English

    I loved the character of Annie Fuller from the first page. Already a widow at the age of twenty-six, she's been pushed around, mistreated, gone from wealth right down to destitution and still pulled herself back. As the story opens, we find her the owner of a respectable boarding house, enjoying the independence she deserves. And if I had to describe Annie Fuller in one word, 'independent' is the word I would use. Nobody tells this lady how to behave! She augments her modest living by masqueradin I loved the character of Annie Fuller from the first page. Already a widow at the age of twenty-six, she's been pushed around, mistreated, gone from wealth right down to destitution and still pulled herself back. As the story opens, we find her the owner of a respectable boarding house, enjoying the independence she deserves. And if I had to describe Annie Fuller in one word, 'independent' is the word I would use. Nobody tells this lady how to behave! She augments her modest living by masquerading as a clairvoyant, specialising in business advice. It's the only way that men of the 1870s would accept financial guidance from a woman - a pity, as Annie is very good at it indeed. Then one of her favourite clients is killed. The police say it is suicide, but Annie is certain it was murder. To make matters worse, a creditor of her dead husband's is trying to collect an old debt from Annie which she cannot pay. The only way she can avoid losing her home is to solve the mystery of Matthew Voss's death - and in the process find out what became of the assets he left to her in his will. Annie's a determined woman. With the help of the stubborn but loveable lawyer, Nate Dawson, there's nothing she won't do to learn the truth about the mysterious Voss family and the night that Matthew was killed. I enjoyed the historical details in this tale, and the writing style is lively and easy to read. Its real strength, though, is the characters. They're believable, interesting, and they really do seem to be visiting straight from the 1870s. I'm looking forward to the next book from this author.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pearl Barley

    Absolutely delightful cozy mystery with plots and twists to get your teeth into. I loved the way I was drawn straight into the life of Annie, a young widow running a boarding house and who mascarades as a clairvoyant to make ends meet. One of her clients dies and to all intents and purposes it looks like suicide, but not to Annie who find anomalies in the subsequent reporting of his death as well as vital business papers missing that lead her to suspect murder. Then she leaps on the trail even t Absolutely delightful cozy mystery with plots and twists to get your teeth into. I loved the way I was drawn straight into the life of Annie, a young widow running a boarding house and who mascarades as a clairvoyant to make ends meet. One of her clients dies and to all intents and purposes it looks like suicide, but not to Annie who find anomalies in the subsequent reporting of his death as well as vital business papers missing that lead her to suspect murder. Then she leaps on the trail even though she is discouraged at every turn because she is 'a lady' and this kind of activity is deemed as 'unbecoming' and thus frustrates her so. But she is unstoppable and knows her own mind. The story was enthralling and there were a sufficient number of red herrings and twists that made you think you knew who had committed the crime until another twist sends you off in a different direction. I am absolutely thrilled as an avid reader to have discovered M.Louisa Locke. Think Murdoch Mysteries and you will find Ms Locke's mysteries along similar lines but with a female sleuth, and heaps better.

  8. 5 out of 5

    kris

    Annie Fuller is a widow living in post-Civil War San Francisco, running a boardinghouse as both herself and her alter-ego Madame Sybil. When one of her clients turns up toes up, she decides to investigate! Also there's an attractive lawyer (i.e., crime-solving partner and maybe something more?), the deceased man's family (i.e., "suspects"), and a stint as an undercover maid and you've got yourself an American detective story. 1. While the story had elements I enjoyed (Victorian San Francisco! Alt Annie Fuller is a widow living in post-Civil War San Francisco, running a boardinghouse as both herself and her alter-ego Madame Sybil. When one of her clients turns up toes up, she decides to investigate! Also there's an attractive lawyer (i.e., crime-solving partner and maybe something more?), the deceased man's family (i.e., "suspects"), and a stint as an undercover maid and you've got yourself an American detective story. 1. While the story had elements I enjoyed (Victorian San Francisco! Alter-egos! Mystery solving!) the story itself was rather poorly crafted. Foreshadowing was used like a shovel to the face rather than as a seasoning; the romance was shoddily done; and the mystery was transparent, like a ghost. Also the writing could have done with a firm polishing. To speak to the romance: in addition to being poorly written, it was kind of gross?? Nate Dawson (the attractive lawyer) see-saws back and forth on the emotional slide rule of ~attraction like he's on a tilt-a-whirl. The face he presents to Annie is set to default "GRUMP" mode, which makes it very awkward when Annie begins to develop feelings for someone she is continually arguing with. He's literally a jerk to her for the majority of the book, and it isn't until his few POV chapters that the audience is made aware that he's a grumpy asshole because he's got a ~~crush on Annie. Which: that's gross shit. Don't romanticize that "boys will be boys" nonsense. If a boy is going to be a raging asshole, he deserves nothing but derision and the lesson that until he can treat women as equals and as persons in their own right, he should GET BENT. (I do acknowledge that Nate shows a iota of understanding very near to the end of the novel when he acknowledges that he can't tell Annie what to do but in the mantra of Kris: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE.) 2. Called the evil-doer the moment they were named. ALSO, the individual in question goes OFF THE RAILS without very much reason and it's kind of impossible to look away from because it's just so out of left field. I DON'T EVEN. 3. Annie has an alter-ego that is present for like 2 chapters and is then mentioned only in passing. Sounds like she was doing some stereotypical nonsense in portraying 'Madame Sybil' anyways, but I question why the character was included at all then. 4. Also, the disconnect between Annie and Nate and the police is like cosmic, which led me to wondering what the story would have looked like without their interference and/or with more cooperation with the police?? I'm just not sure what value they added beyond mucking things up quite a bit, misleading the police, and then finally getting the villain to reveal themselves. But only after putting a lot of people in danger. 5. I did like the setting quite a bit: semi-post-frontier San Francisco, with a heroine who knows business and ain't taking no shit? I could be there for that! But it was underdeveloped and overdrawn at the same time, leaving me feeling out of sorts with the whole thing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I'll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting Maids of Misfortune to keep my attention past bed time. I'd already read Dandy Detects and though I found it enjoyable, the short story wasn’t exactly a page turner so I was unprepared when Locke's full-length mystery proved difficult to put aside. The first installment of the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series introduces readers Annie Fuller, an enterprising boarding house m Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I'll be the first to admit I wasn’t expecting Maids of Misfortune to keep my attention past bed time. I'd already read Dandy Detects and though I found it enjoyable, the short story wasn’t exactly a page turner so I was unprepared when Locke's full-length mystery proved difficult to put aside. The first installment of the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series introduces readers Annie Fuller, an enterprising boarding house matron living in San Francisco during the late 1800s. Annie is a rare character. She is modern in many aspects, but not overly so and appropriate to the time and place of the novel. Too often authors forget context and I appreciated Locke's attention to detail and obvious admiration for the period in which the story takes place. I also liked that I didn’t call the ending. Not to toot my own horn, but I often anticipate twists and turns before they unfold and was pleasantly surprised that I was unable to do so here. Lighthearted though it was, I found Locke's enigmatic presentation quite satisfying and can't wait to see where she takes Annie and Nate next.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    A thoroughly enjoyable book by M L Locke. I was drawn to the setting in San Francisco, a favourite city by the sea! Also the 'Victorian' atmosphere...strange how Victoria lent her name to an era which applied all over the world. The research is just brilliant, one was totally drawn into it, so natural is the writing. I learnt a good deal about the aches and pains, the long working days, the attitudes to servants in those days. Interesting reversal of roles when Annie, the heroine of our tale, be A thoroughly enjoyable book by M L Locke. I was drawn to the setting in San Francisco, a favourite city by the sea! Also the 'Victorian' atmosphere...strange how Victoria lent her name to an era which applied all over the world. The research is just brilliant, one was totally drawn into it, so natural is the writing. I learnt a good deal about the aches and pains, the long working days, the attitudes to servants in those days. Interesting reversal of roles when Annie, the heroine of our tale, becomes a 'maid' in order to ferret out information about a murder of a dear friend. She's so unused to the daily menial tasks but learns a lot about how hard her own girls work in her household and returns determined to better their lot. Annie is a glorious heroine. She is highly intelligent, canny and charming as well as independent, headstrong and brave. A girl after my heart. You can't but love her and want her to win through. Her relaitonship with Nate, the lawyer, is deftly handled, gently bringing them together. I just love the ending with its humorous twist which defuses a very exciting, nail biting chapter or two preceding it. A lovely climax, a lovely story. Now to read the next part of Annie's adventures in Uneasy Spirts.

  11. 4 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    Annie Fuller, widow, runs a boarding house and supplemets her income by posing as a psychic medium providing financial, business and relationship advise from her San Francisco home. She's about to lose her home to the man who helped ruin her husband. When one of her favorite clients, Matthew Voss dies unexpectedly, leaving her $10 and shares in a mining company, Annie is stunned. The police claim suidice due to financial ruin but Annie knows that is far from true. She sets out to discover the tr Annie Fuller, widow, runs a boarding house and supplemets her income by posing as a psychic medium providing financial, business and relationship advise from her San Francisco home. She's about to lose her home to the man who helped ruin her husband. When one of her favorite clients, Matthew Voss dies unexpectedly, leaving her $10 and shares in a mining company, Annie is stunned. The police claim suidice due to financial ruin but Annie knows that is far from true. She sets out to discover the truth, with the help of the Voss' lawyer, Nate Dawson. Nate is not thrilled with Annie's unconventional, unladylike behavior, but Annie is determined to do things her way. She has come too far since her husband's death to go back to being meek. She has a chance to save her home, her friends and help her client one last time. The course of her investigation leads her to pose as a maid in the Voss household where she goes up against a snooty ladies' maid Cartier, Mr. Voss' Bible-thumping sister Miss Voss. She finds an unexpected ally in Wong, Matthew's manservant but discovers that all is not right in the household and one of them must have murdered Matthew. Annie is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery with or without Nate's help. This cozy mystery is quite good. Though there are a lot of standard plot points in this novel, I enjoyed it. I did figure out who the murderer was right away but there were enough red herrings to keep me interested. The period details are largely limited to the role of women but I don't know enough about San Francisco at that time to say much about the description. It's not so easy to tell the story is set in 1879 because the characters sound more modern and the descriptions of San Francisco are limited. It is a very 19th century story though, just not really specific to 1879.There was also a light romance that made the story more enjoyable. Annie and Nate enjoy a typical love/hate relationship common in period pieces. Annie is unconventional and ahead of her time and Nate was brought up with traditional values though his sister apparently isn't so traditional. I liked the banter between Annie and Nate and how she taught him to rethink his values. He did it willingly instead of being the alpha male and demanding Annie stay safe at home, which was a nice change from the typical Victorian novel. The romance has enough spark to satisfy those who enjoy love stories but it limited to kisses only. I loved Annie. Her character growth seems to have happened already but I liked how she realized she needed to change and how far she's come. I loved how she stuck to her convinctions and how she was a loyal friend to Matthew after his death. Her activities as Madame Sybil are really interesting and I admire how she was able to turn her passion into a business though women weren't allowed to be stock brokers or financial advisors. I hope to read the rest of the series if I can get it. This was a freebie kindle download on Amazon and it did not disapoint.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    Annie Fuller is an independent widow running a boarding house while dispensing advice from the parlor disguised as clairvoyant 'Madame Sybil'. Shocked by the apparent suicide of one of 'Sybil's' favorite clients, Annie is determined to prove Matthew Voss's death was not suicide but murder. Annie knows the police officer first on the scene and is able to learn details about the crime from him. Voss's attorney, Nathaniel Dawson does some investigation of his own and discovers Voss's connection to Annie Fuller is an independent widow running a boarding house while dispensing advice from the parlor disguised as clairvoyant 'Madame Sybil'. Shocked by the apparent suicide of one of 'Sybil's' favorite clients, Annie is determined to prove Matthew Voss's death was not suicide but murder. Annie knows the police officer first on the scene and is able to learn details about the crime from him. Voss's attorney, Nathaniel Dawson does some investigation of his own and discovers Voss's connection to 'Madame Sybil'. After a few initial misunderstandings, Annie and Dawson work together to discover the identity and motive of the murderer. I enjoyed this mystery set in San Francisco in 1879. I liked the way the author slowly revealed the personal histories of the characters, giving insight to their motivations and opinions. I appreciated the descriptive details regarding the setting, the history of the location, including racial biases, as well as the character's manner of dress. I thought the relationships were, for the most part, realistic, as was the dialogue. The mystery kept my interest and the romantic feelings beginning to develop between Annie and Nathaniel gave the story added interest. Annie Fuller is a strong female character and though her behavior was sometimes anachronistic, I enjoyed reading along all the same. There were very few times when I didn't care for what the author had done. I thought one character was too helpful, another a little melodramatic, and one time I thought the dialog was a bit quaint and unrealistic. But overall I thought this was a well done mystery, with charming characters that I will be interested in reading about again.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    I loved getting to know Annie Fuller. She was a widow in 1879 San Francisco that owned a boarding house. She also moonlighted as a clairvoyant to pay her bills. Annie had a clear mmd concerning finances and while playing clairvoyant advisor she became friends and financial advisor to Matthew Voss. After the murder of Voss Annie felt she had to try to prove that his death was not a suicide. She meets young attorney Nathaniel Dawson and working together they try to figure out what exactly happened I loved getting to know Annie Fuller. She was a widow in 1879 San Francisco that owned a boarding house. She also moonlighted as a clairvoyant to pay her bills. Annie had a clear mmd concerning finances and while playing clairvoyant advisor she became friends and financial advisor to Matthew Voss. After the murder of Voss Annie felt she had to try to prove that his death was not a suicide. She meets young attorney Nathaniel Dawson and working together they try to figure out what exactly happened to her friend. It is a very interesting and detailed story showing life in the 1870's. The author M. Louisa Locke brings the feelings of the times to life and you experienced what it was like to be a woman in that time. A wonderful series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I liked the character that the protagonist was trying to be; independent, smart, strong willed. But over the course of the book she seemed to take a dive into the ditzy schoolgirl category and it became more and more annoying to watch her stumble through nothing day in and day out. I thought the "romance" aspects were a bit contrived though I liked the characterization of the male lead and I was hoping to see the protagonist relationship expanded a bit more before the end. Overall, nothing reall I liked the character that the protagonist was trying to be; independent, smart, strong willed. But over the course of the book she seemed to take a dive into the ditzy schoolgirl category and it became more and more annoying to watch her stumble through nothing day in and day out. I thought the "romance" aspects were a bit contrived though I liked the characterization of the male lead and I was hoping to see the protagonist relationship expanded a bit more before the end. Overall, nothing really happens for the majority of the book but the places where things did happen were entertaining enough to keep reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I found this book free for my Kindle on Amazon. It intrigued me because it is written by a retired history professor and takes place in Victorian-era San Francisco, both an historical era and a city of which I am fond. I found this novel light but enjoyable, with a fiesty and intelligent heroine who is contastantly at battle with the social mores of the period. A young widow and boardinghouse owner, Annie Fuller moonlights as a clairvoyant, giving personal and financial advice based on sound rese I found this book free for my Kindle on Amazon. It intrigued me because it is written by a retired history professor and takes place in Victorian-era San Francisco, both an historical era and a city of which I am fond. I found this novel light but enjoyable, with a fiesty and intelligent heroine who is contastantly at battle with the social mores of the period. A young widow and boardinghouse owner, Annie Fuller moonlights as a clairvoyant, giving personal and financial advice based on sound research and common sense, rather than actual supernatural abilities. She also, as it happens, solves mysteries! Bottom line, I think I may be hooked and will be looking for the second installment in this series.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I would not have finished this book if not for sheer stubbornness and because I hoped it would really highlight San Francisco -- it didn't. Annie, the main character, proclaims her intelligence and female independence at every opportunity but fails to make intelligent decisions and somehow manages to address every male she encounters with a breathy "Oh, Nate," or "Oh, Wong" -- as do most female characters, save one "old" and "bitter" spinster. The plot is riddled with holes, but they're often ha I would not have finished this book if not for sheer stubbornness and because I hoped it would really highlight San Francisco -- it didn't. Annie, the main character, proclaims her intelligence and female independence at every opportunity but fails to make intelligent decisions and somehow manages to address every male she encounters with a breathy "Oh, Nate," or "Oh, Wong" -- as do most female characters, save one "old" and "bitter" spinster. The plot is riddled with holes, but they're often hard to notice because the dialogue and story itself are so distractingly inane. Do not read this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elsbeth

    Very good mystery! Reading this, I realized how hard the life of my grandmother had been, when she was in service. This truly is a tribute to all maids (-servants)!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Padgett

    Locke mines the complexity of the Victorian Era in Maids of Misfortune, adroitly shedding light in shadowy corners of a time now as subject to stereotype as Regency England. But Annie Fuller is no stereotype. Widowed when her husband committed suicide, Annie has fled his abusive family to establish a rooming house in a San Francisco property left her by an aunt. To supplement the meager income generated by this endeavor, Annie operates an intriguing business on the side – as a clairvoyant! While Locke mines the complexity of the Victorian Era in Maids of Misfortune, adroitly shedding light in shadowy corners of a time now as subject to stereotype as Regency England. But Annie Fuller is no stereotype. Widowed when her husband committed suicide, Annie has fled his abusive family to establish a rooming house in a San Francisco property left her by an aunt. To supplement the meager income generated by this endeavor, Annie operates an intriguing business on the side – as a clairvoyant! While young ladies of the Victorian elite busied themselves with needlepoint and the finer points of supervising large households, Annie learned from her father about the world of commerce. She can read the business pages and knows what influence a mining disaster in Columbia may have on American iron production. In an exotic disguise as “Madame Sybil”, she dispenses shrewd business advice for which she is handsomely paid. Annie is smart. But then one of her dead husband’s creditors turns up, determined to wrest from her the property she inherited from her aunt. His success will leave Annie penniless and desperate in an era that has no sympathy for independent women and offers such creatures no recourse but the street. To make matters worse, a client of “Madame Sybil” suddenly dies, an apparent suicide, leaving his family in dire financial distress. Annie is sympathetic. And she doesn’t believe her client killed himself. Determined to discover the truth and rescue the man’s family, Annie goes undercover as a maid in his home, reluctantly abetted by Nate Dawson, the dead client’s attorney. Nate is a man of his time and doesn’t know what to make of Annie, whose spirit and savvy both shock and attract him. And while romance is the last thing on Annie’s mind, she finds herself succumbing to Nate’s rather macho charm. When he rescues her from a predatory creep at a dance, she really doesn’t mind. At all! The well-plotted tale winds deftly through a half-forgotten time and numerous still-extant San Francisco landmarks readers will recognize. Suspenseful mystery dangers and unexpected twists are presented with a sure hand, establishing Annie as a heroine to befriend. I can’t wait for the next one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    As a gently-bred widow in nineteenth century San Francisco, Annie Fuller struggles to be financially independent. To supplement her boarding house earnings, she also gives advice masquerading as a fortune teller. When one of her favorite clients seemingly commits suicide on the eve of his greatest triumph, only Annie is suspicious. The police won't listen to her theories, so she goes undercover as a maid in home of her late client. The family he left behind is in desperate straits, and Annie doe As a gently-bred widow in nineteenth century San Francisco, Annie Fuller struggles to be financially independent. To supplement her boarding house earnings, she also gives advice masquerading as a fortune teller. When one of her favorite clients seemingly commits suicide on the eve of his greatest triumph, only Annie is suspicious. The police won't listen to her theories, so she goes undercover as a maid in home of her late client. The family he left behind is in desperate straits, and Annie does her best to solve a murder, help each of them, and still somehow wash the linens and make the fires. She finds being a maid to be astoundingly hard work, and sleuthing not much easier. Luckily she has a handsome detective to help her... Short, sweet, not that objectionable and not that memorable, either.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marla

    I got this as a free book off of Amazon's free book list. It took me a while to get into it, but that was probably due to the fact that I was only able to read it in fits and starts till about the middle of the book. At that point I was able to read it in much longer stretches. The main character managed to be a bit of a more modern heroine without being too out of the norm for the late 1800's I thought. The take down of the villain was humorous and I laughed out loud at several points. When I go I got this as a free book off of Amazon's free book list. It took me a while to get into it, but that was probably due to the fact that I was only able to read it in fits and starts till about the middle of the book. At that point I was able to read it in much longer stretches. The main character managed to be a bit of a more modern heroine without being too out of the norm for the late 1800's I thought. The take down of the villain was humorous and I laughed out loud at several points. When I got to the end, after reading a teaser of several pages of the next book, Amazon helpfully brought up their store where I saw the next book was only $2.99. They're making it too easy, I bought the book and I'm going to have to watch myself to make sure I don't get too big of a bill at the end of each month. =P

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yemisi Otasanya

    This turned out to be one of the best books I've read. (heard - lol). Adventurous, full of suspense and a tad bit of romance. I could hardly stop listening on audible. The character, Annie fuller's determination to solve a muder mystery, and the way she flawlessly planted herself as an unwitting spy was so implausible. And there was Nathan, the reluctant but determined lawyer. They were a great pair. M. Louisa Locke did a superb job.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Light reading of the cosy sort. It made for a quick read while travelling. Characters were interesting enough that I'd read another in the series should one come my way.Nice to see San Francisco in its olden, golden days. I did employ some willing suspension of disbelief, but, on the whole, liked the book. It's been several weeks since I read it, so a plot summary would be crap. Let's just leave it as "I liked it."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aisling

    An excellent historical mystery/romance. I loved the fiesty heroine Annie and the ending was terrific. A well crafted mystery with good red herrings, likeable characters, and tension (both in the mystery and romance).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I SO enjoyed reading this Victorian historical mystery novel, there's just something about the era that both mesmerises and disgusts. (People actually wanted to go into service?) I've noticed a particular trait of these novels is a strong female protagonist, something which was apparently taboo of that era. I get the impression women were to be seen and not heard, that expressing an opinion was something not to worry their pretty little heads about. The novel was extremely well written with charac I SO enjoyed reading this Victorian historical mystery novel, there's just something about the era that both mesmerises and disgusts. (People actually wanted to go into service?) I've noticed a particular trait of these novels is a strong female protagonist, something which was apparently taboo of that era. I get the impression women were to be seen and not heard, that expressing an opinion was something not to worry their pretty little heads about. The novel was extremely well written with characters that were warm and full of depth, even the not so nice characters, so that you couldn't help but be invested. Yes, there was a tad of romance in the story, but it was a genteel one so I was able to stomach it. (Yeah, yeah ..... I know. A female that HATES Romance novels??) There were red herrings abound and I found myself constantly changing my mind as to who the perpetrator was. By the end I had it pretty much worked out but I was only half right! All in all an extremely enjoyable look back in time to find the reasons for murder or violence are not much changed. I will certainly be reading more of the author's works.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Kelly

    This was a pretty good story but I almost gave up a few times as it has a lot of mistakes all the way through which wore me down. I had seen some reviewers bleating that it wasn't true to 19th century San Francisco.....like any of them were around then to argue the toss about it ! So I ignored that and that worked just fine for me. But lines like "...the conjunction of the both the moon and Venus"....is an obvious error in my eyes and someone should have spotted it There were a lot of apostrophes This was a pretty good story but I almost gave up a few times as it has a lot of mistakes all the way through which wore me down. I had seen some reviewers bleating that it wasn't true to 19th century San Francisco.....like any of them were around then to argue the toss about it ! So I ignored that and that worked just fine for me. But lines like "...the conjunction of the both the moon and Venus"....is an obvious error in my eyes and someone should have spotted it There were a lot of apostrophes being misplaced, curtsy spelt that way and then also curtsey, chagrinned and not chagrined, fiance not fiancee......sigh....... Gentlemen was used instead of gentleman, we heard about Nate's younger sister, then we learn she's his only sister then he refers to her as his youngest sister !! Parley was used and not parlay and crape and not crepe, twice used insure and not ensure, pour and not pore, discernable and not discernible, take and not taking and she also suddenly spells Sibyl as Sybil !!! That's pretty unforgivable and I can't believe this many mistakes found their way to the finished article. I grew a little bored of Amelia dropping everything all the time. There were some highly amusing moments in it here and there. I got a kick out of the ending with the three women. That was brilliantly executed. I have the second book downloaded but I hope it's better edited. I hope perhaps Annie and Nate continue to be pals as well and not falling out !!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

    This was terribly slow, but I might read the next one? Maybe? I don't know, this one took like three days to read and it never takes me that long to read a book this short, like ever soooo I guess I'm not going to read the next one? I don't know! this book left my emotions swirling in ten different kinds of meh *sigh*

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    Maids of Misfortune A well written and researched novel. I easily pictured the characters and settings in Victorian San Francisco. I liked Annie's mine and her determination to do whatever she could to resolve the murder a friend. A bit slow in the beginning but a satisfying ending.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gayle Hill

    What a wonderful book. It had me from the beginning. It taught me bit of California history, which was fun. I really enjoyed the book. A well written book. I can't think of anything that I didn't like about. The characters were well written and I had no problem seeing each one in my minds eye.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marie Gallo

    I got this book free from Amazon through a Kindle promotion, and I'm happy to say it exceeded my expectations. One never does know what one is getting into when reading free books from Amazon, but I thought this an enjoyable, light, cozy mystery.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Landmark

    Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars Review to come soon.

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