Friday, March 13, 2015

The Apothecary's Widow by Diane Scott Lewis

 

PUBLISHER'S BLURB

Who murdered Lady Pentreath? The year is 1781, and the war with the American colonies rages across the sea. In Truro, England Branek Pentreath, a local squire, has suffered for years in a miserable marriage. Now his wife has been poisoned with arsenic. Is this unhappy husband responsible? Or was it out of revenge? Branek owns the apothecary shop where Jenna Rosedew, two years a widow, delights in serving her clients. Branek might sell her building to absolve his debts caused by the war—and put her out on the street. Jenna prepared the tinctures for Lady Pentreath, which were later found to contain arsenic. The town’s corrupt constable has a grudge against Branek and Jenna. He threatens to send them both to the gallows.


Can this feisty widow and brooding squire come together, believe in each other’s innocence— fight the attraction that grows between them—as they struggle to solve the crime before it’s too late?


REVIEW BY ANITA

Set in 18th Century Cornwall, all Jenna Rosedew’s husband left her was an adolescent apprentice and a struggling apothecary shop. When Lady Pentreath’s death is deemed murder, Jenna is the first person to come under suspicion as she prepared all the dead woman’s medicine.

But why would Jenna poison someone at the risk of her own livelihood? Branek Pentreath has reason to call on Jenna  to inform her he is forced to increase up the rent of her shop, or does he too think she killed his wife? Jenna finds herself attracted to the man, but any connection between them could be construed as motive for murder.

Ms Scott Lewis’ portrayal of a couple trying to come to terms with conflicting emotions in an unsympathetic setting is thoroughly enjoyable. Jenna is no simpering female with no clue as to where to turn, she has her own methods of protecting her livelihood, and being accused of killing one of her clients isn’t something she is going to accept without a fight.

Branek Pentreath is also gravely misunderstood. He is not simply a heartless, ruthless mine owner, but a man of principal struggling with a failing business, suspicion from his neighbours and a growing attraction to a woman he shouldn’t even have noticed.

Ms Scott brings all the threads of this heart-warming story together into a satisfactory ending. I hope to hear more about Branek and Jenna.



Anita Davison is the author of  ‘Royalist Rebel’ and has also written two novels in The Woulfes of Loxsbeare series. Her latest venture is Murder On The Minneapolis, an Edwardian cozy mystery scheduled for released in June by Robert Hale.
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