Review: Schemes & Scandals by Kelley Armstrong

Posted July 4, 2024 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Mystery / 0 Comments

Review:  Schemes & Scandals by Kelley ArmstrongSchemes & Scandals by Kelley Armstrong
five-stars
Series: A Rip Through Time #3.5
Published by Subterranean Press on October 1, 2024
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 176
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
amazon b-n
Goodreads

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

It’s Mallory Atkinson’s first Christmas in Scotland. Victorian Scotland, that is. Also, as the twenty-first-century detective learns, Christmas really isn’t a thing in Victorian Scotland. It’s all about Hogmanay. But her boss, Dr. Duncan Gray, treats her to an early gift of tickets to the event of the season: a Charles Dickens reading. There, they bump into Lady Inglis—the lovely widow who has sent Gray sexy letters trying to entice him back to her bed.
Lady Inglis introduces Mallory to Dickens—the meeting of a lifetime—but in return she wants their help. She’s being blackmailed. Someone stole letters she wrote to another lover and is threatening to publish them.
Mallory isn’t sure what to make of Lady Inglis, but no woman deserves that, so she insists on taking the case with or without Gray’s help. Growing tension between them soon tells Mallory that Gray is hiding a secret of his own. She has until Hogmanay to uncover the blackmailer…and, hopefully, to put things right with Gray so they can enjoy the holiday together.


 

This series is my new obsession. I don’t know how I will be able to wait until next year for more stories.

After being attacked in an alley while investigating the screams of a young woman, Det. Mallory Atkinson has body-swapped with a young Victorian housemaid named Catriona Mitchell.

In Schemes & Scandals, Mallory is sad to learn the Victorians in Scotland do not celebrate Christmas.  But they do have large celebrations for Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve).   As a gift, Dr Duncan Gray presents his sister and Mallory with tickets to a Charles Dickens reading.  And just like I would, Mallory arrives at the reading with a copy of her favorite Dickens story for him to sign.  Apparently, Victorians don’t generally have book signing (an absolute reason never to go into the past)  but then Duncan is approached by an old acquaintance, Lady Inglis, who is a family friend of Charles Dickens.  She will introduce Mallory to the famous writer if she can get Duncan’s help, and his assistant’s, of course.

Lady Inglis is being blackmailed.  She wrote some very scandalous letters to one of her lovers and those letters have been stolen.  While Lady Inglis is a widow and so is her lover, it would still cause quite a scandal if the blackmailer goes as promised and publishes the letters.

When Mallory first arrived in Catriona’s body and realized Catriona’s less than ethical behavior, she  also found a hidey-hole where she kept some pilfered items.  One of those items, was a scandalously descriptive letter from a former lover of Dr. Duncan Gray’s trying to entice him back to her.  Mallory doesn’t know why Catriona kept it except as her own possible item of blackmail.  Mallory eventually tells Duncan about the found missive and, very embarrassed, he tells her to burn it.

Knowing that Mallory is aware of his history with Lady Inglis makes the whole situation very uncomfortable, especially when Mallory indicates that she plans to help Lady Inglis, as she shouldn’t be shamed for living her life and harming no one, but obviously as a police detective, Mallory is fine pursuing the matter without Gray’s assistance, since there is no dead body involved.   This creates an uncomfortable tension between Gray and Mallory as her more forgiving 21st century morals clash with his more uptight Victorian prudishness.

We are still in a slow burn on romance between Duncan and Mallory (as well as Isla and Det McCreadie) but there is no doubt of the interest on both sides.

I think this is my favorite cover of the series.  I like seeing her as both Mallory and Catriona and highlighting the difference in looks and dress, etc. of the two characters that are both Mallory.  Sadly, the novellas are not available in audiobook, which makes a difference here as the narrator does a really good job narrating Mallory with either a Canadian accent, if she is comfortably hanging with Duncan or Isla, or a Scottish one, if she is assuming her Catriona role.

This novella releases in October and while I was delighted to be given an ARC, I am also very depressed that after spending a week with Duncan, Mallory, Isla and Hugh, I won’t be able to join them again until next Spring when the next full length novel should be released, unless Kelley Armstrong would like to take my advice and stop with all those other stories and just keep writing more of the A Rip Through Time series.   Maybe she will…please. 

 


Favorite Scene:

I met Gray outside the club about twenty minutes later. I don’t tell him I got caught, and I certainly don’t tell him how I got out of it. He might not like Arthur Simpson, but he’d still feel guilty knowing one of the club’s staff wrongly thinks Arthur knocked up a shop girl.
He’d be wrong, of course. By the end of the day, all the club’s staff will think that, and I personally don’t feel the least bit guilty.

“You managed to get inside, then?” Gray says.

“I did, and I was sorely disappointed by the lack of dancing girls.”

He stops midstride. “Dancing girls?”

“Dancing girls, maybe a few dancing boys… What kind of gentlemen’s club is that?”

He gives me a sidelong look as he resumes walking. “So in your world, a gentlemen’s club has…dancing girls?”

“Strippers.”

“And strippers are dancers who…?”

“Pretty sure it’s right there in the name, Gray.”

He turns the most adorable shade of mahogany.

I continue. “To be honest, through, while they call themselves gentlemen’s clubs, it’s not quite the same thing. In my world, that’s just a fancy name for a place where you can watch naked women sliding on poles.”

He chokes so violently that his eyes water.

“Not sliding on them like that,” I say. “Get your mind out of the gutter. If you want that, you need to go to Amsterdam.”

“Amster…”

“It’s a city in–“

“I have visited Amsterdam.”

“And you missed the sex shows? What kind of tourist are you?” I continue walking. “As for your club, it was boring. I didn’t honestly expect dancing girls, but there wasn’t even a heated game of chess. Now I know why you don’t let women in. So they don’t see how dull you all are. Ah, yes, let us go to our secret club and drink tea and smoke cigars. How scandalous!”

He only shakes his head. “As for the case…”

“Fine.” I say with a deep sigh. “Drag me back on point.”

“Yes, I am as dull as my gentlemen’s club.”

I coudl go along with it and tease him. But I find myself leading to tap my winter bonnet against his shoulder and murmuring, “You are never dull, Duncan.”

“I know.”

I have to laugh. “Do you?”

“Of course. If I were dull, you would not stand my company for one moment longer than necessary. Did you hear my questioning of the younger Simpson?”

“Enough to think him a very fine suspect. I love it when my suspects are assholes. Makes my job
a true delight.”

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