Last year, I was delighted by A Marvellous Light, a gay murder mystery/romance in which Robin, a newly-made Baronet, is appointed to the wrong government office and is accidently drawn into the hidden world of magical society when shadowy forces think he knows more than he does. With a curse mark creeping up his arm and no clue how magic works, Robin must work with his liaison, Edwin Courcey, to unravel the conspiracy he’s been plunged into and save England’s magic. It was a delightful book, and now Freya Marske is back for round two in A Restless Truth with Robin’s sister Maud, who is determined to play her role in the events started in the previous book and not let her brother down. With England’s magic at stake, Maud must prove herself and also take her own turn with romance.
Sent to America to escort an elderly lady who knows a piece of the puzzle back to England, Maud instead finds herself embroiled in murder, mystery, and mayhem on the high seas. Not a magician herself, Maud recruits allies to her cause, including Violet Debenham, a newly-minted heiress returning to England from a scandalous stage career, and Lord Hawthorne, a disaffected nobleman who has given up his magic but can’t escape being entangled in this mystery. Maud is reliant on them for magical spells and knowledge, but her wits, stubbornness, and audacity are her own, and she’s not about get off the boat in England without a success to bring to her brother.
This book was a fun romp from beginning to end. Maud is smart and daring, and her instant attraction to Violet is a surprise to both of them. I started laughing at her “Wait…girls are an option?” moment. Violet joins Maud’s quest to begin with mostly because it seems like it will be fun, but soon she finds herself with more feelings than she expected and wanting to live up to Maud’s expectations. The fact that they are on an ocean liner creates a semi-protected bubble where they can explore their feelings without too much dodging of society. I also greatly enjoyed that, while Violet is the more jaded and experienced half of the pair, Maud is the one who takes the lead the most often. It is Maud’s force of personality that pulls together their little investigative band, and I really enjoyed her as a character. Together with the escalating danger of the murder mystery, I had a great time.
In conclusion, you’ll probably want to pick up the first book, A Marvellous Light, before you read A Restless Truth so that you are familiar with the conspiracy that Maud is caught up in. But as a murder mystery on an ocean liner, this book was a high stakes adventure from beginning to end. It’s a fun and charming read, and I love Freya Marske’s historical magical society. I do rec them as a read to brighten any week.