I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I thoroughly enjoyed this second outing of Lady Emily; I was sucked back into her society from the first page. No more guilt-ridden, moony angst! But it was not without its issues and shortcomings.
A Poisoned Season picks up where the last book And Only to Deceive leaves off - Emily has returned from Greece in time for the London Season but still chafes against the rules set out for polite society. There's a pretender to the French throne in town, a cat burglar, and a murder - all contributing to the enlivenment of the season. In an attempt to help out her American friend Margaret, she unwittingly makes herself the focus of scandalous rumours concerning an illicit affair between herself and the Duke of Bainbridge. Colin is trying to stop a coup d'etat. Her best friend Ivy is having marital problems, and let's not forget the wager between Lady Emily and Colin...
I think the author tried to weave too many threads into the story. Bainbridge is so prominent as to be considered a main character in the first half of the book - then he all but disappears without so much as a line of dialogue between himself and Emily. Perhaps we'll see him again in a future book, but the reader isn't given any indication of that. Also, there's a growing animosity towards Lady Emily on the part of Robert's boss, culminating with a nasty scene at Ivy's ball - but it's never explained. What was up with that?!?
Mostly, though, I just enjoyed the story and the mystery(ies). The murder mystery was exceptionally well done. I was totally bamboozled; talk about Machiavellian planning. The secondary mysteries were entertaining, but not overly impressive; the identity of one of the characters was evident from the first clue.
If I found Colin less than swoon-worthy in the first book, I was a true convert by the end of this one. He's my idea of a romantic hero: confident enough of his own identity to be completely at ease with a strong, independent female. His gift at the end of the book was inspired for both it's real value and its metaphorical one. If I didn't like Lady Emily, he alone might be reason enough for me to keep reading.