Author: Rachel McMillan
Publisher: Harvest House
Source: Author provided E-galley
Publication Date: 2016
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Herringford and Watts, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Historical
Rating: 5 out of 5
REVIEW | One of my weaknesses is historical settings set in or around the 1900s. I know the blame for this lies squarely on the shoulders of Julian Fellowes and a little drama called Downton Abbey. This is partial reason why the debut novel of Rachel McMillan rose up to be one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. Never mind its premise being completely different, it became the one novel I was 99.9% sure of 100% adoring. Helping to sell this educated guess of mine was the beautiful and swirly cover art that featured the old-fashioned art of silhouettes to say nothing of its gorgeous swirly font. As I turned the pages, within the span of 10-15, I was swept into Rachel’s Toronto and the fascinating historical setting of 1910.
BOOK REVIEW | A Singular and Whimsical Problem by Rachel McMillan
Jemima Watts isn’t what anyone would call a rebel. She grew up a good girl and prepared to become a proper society wife and mother. At least that was the plan until she met Merinda Herringford. Merinda is the complete opposite of Jem. She’s opinionated, regularly dons trousers and refuses to play by anyone’s rules. Somehow the two girls get along swimmingly. Their friendship eventually takes them to being roommates and operating a consulting detective agency that Merinda frequently likens to that of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson’s exploits. When the girls stumble onto a string of unsolved murders, they find themselves in over their heads. But with the help of police constable Forth and the hot-tempered (but oh-so-swoony) reporter Ray DeLuca, they might uncover more than they bargained on finding.
If I were to keep this review simple, the one word that I’d pin on this novel is “delightful.” Fortunately, I don’t have to leave it at merely a one word acclaim because The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder is that and so much more. Readers who appreciate humor in their historical fiction will love this. Thrill seekers who enjoy historical time periods will find their fix inside these pages. Romantics will discover a chaste and swoon-worthy romance wrapped carefully inside the mystery. Given the book’s leading characters are women this novel does have a strong sense of feminism which is why some of the turns did take me by surprise. But I appreciate the balance Rachel gave the subjects. Her voice creates strong characters in Merinda and Jem (whom we stick with for the majority of the novel) and yet, the men in her story aren’t ill-treated, and if they do take some flack, it’s because they allowed it.
When I look back on my blogging origins up to the place where I am now in this journey, one of the things I never anticipated was reviewing the novels of people who I’d “meet” on this adventure and come to consider friends. Rachel McMillan is a well-known and respected blogger who, as will be familiar to those who know her, has a fabulous sense of humor. (Don’t believe me? Simply go read her sassy tweets with David Huddleston – and if you’re confused by that statement, trust me, this is a thing.) As fellow book blogger Cassie aptly coined a descriptor for this, ‘Bachelor Girls’ is full of Rachel-isms that will make readers giggle, and flip the pages all the faster. Each layer this story adds is as captivating as the last, and though a sense of completion is found in the final page, you’ll be left wishing the next chapter in Jem and Merinda’s adventures were at arm’s length.
Though tempted to say so much more, all I will say is this: go read this debut. You won’t regret it.
Synopsis: In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.
Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.
While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever–if they can stay alive long enough to do so.
COMING NEXT FROM RACHEL McMILLAN, A Lesson in Love and Murder: 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 own hands full with a husband who is distracted by his sister’s problems but still determined to keep Jem out of harm’s way.
As Merinda and Jem close in on the danger they’ve tracked from Toronto to Chicago, will they also be able to resolve the troubles threatening their future happiness before it’s too late?
Sincere thanks to the author for providing a complimentary e-galley of this novel for the purpose of reviewing it.