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The Counterfeit Guest

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In this rousing sequel to The Blackstone Key, Rose Melikan’s heroine returns to the world of espionage for an intelligent, thrilling adventure in Georgian England. When the story begins Mary is a wealthy heiress. Young ladies in her situation ought to marry well—as her friend Susannah Armitage has. But is Susannah’s marriage to Colonel Crosby-Nash all that it seems? Mary t In this rousing sequel to The Blackstone Key, Rose Melikan’s heroine returns to the world of espionage for an intelligent, thrilling adventure in Georgian England. When the story begins Mary is a wealthy heiress. Young ladies in her situation ought to marry well—as her friend Susannah Armitage has. But is Susannah’s marriage to Colonel Crosby-Nash all that it seems? Mary thinks not, and when her suspicions lead to a meeting with the elusive spymaster, Cuthbert Shy, he reveals the terrible truth—the colonel is a traitor. At Shy’s request, Mary agrees to accompany the Crosby-Nashes to their country estate, in order to discover his secrets. It is a perilous assignment, and the danger increases when her only means of communicating with Shy is murderously cut off. If only Mary could contact the redoubtable Captain Robert Holland, but as he has inexplicably ended their friendship, his help seems out of reach.… In the grand tradition of Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier, Melikan presents a gripping tale of adventure and romance, while enhancing both with flawless details of time and place. The combination will keep readers holding their breath until the next explosive installment.


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In this rousing sequel to The Blackstone Key, Rose Melikan’s heroine returns to the world of espionage for an intelligent, thrilling adventure in Georgian England. When the story begins Mary is a wealthy heiress. Young ladies in her situation ought to marry well—as her friend Susannah Armitage has. But is Susannah’s marriage to Colonel Crosby-Nash all that it seems? Mary t In this rousing sequel to The Blackstone Key, Rose Melikan’s heroine returns to the world of espionage for an intelligent, thrilling adventure in Georgian England. When the story begins Mary is a wealthy heiress. Young ladies in her situation ought to marry well—as her friend Susannah Armitage has. But is Susannah’s marriage to Colonel Crosby-Nash all that it seems? Mary thinks not, and when her suspicions lead to a meeting with the elusive spymaster, Cuthbert Shy, he reveals the terrible truth—the colonel is a traitor. At Shy’s request, Mary agrees to accompany the Crosby-Nashes to their country estate, in order to discover his secrets. It is a perilous assignment, and the danger increases when her only means of communicating with Shy is murderously cut off. If only Mary could contact the redoubtable Captain Robert Holland, but as he has inexplicably ended their friendship, his help seems out of reach.… In the grand tradition of Charlotte Bronte and Daphne du Maurier, Melikan presents a gripping tale of adventure and romance, while enhancing both with flawless details of time and place. The combination will keep readers holding their breath until the next explosive installment.

30 review for The Counterfeit Guest

  1. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    I found this to be an utterly charming book about some utterly charming characters. With its sweet blend of Pride and Prejudice meets Trixie Belden, I really quite enjoyed it for what it was. A quiet little mystery, without too many bells and whistles (which sometimes did not work in its favour) and without the corny kissy, kissy. I wanted to give the book 5 stars for half of it, but then there were long sections surrounding Captain Holland and his military world that I felt did not have to be th I found this to be an utterly charming book about some utterly charming characters. With its sweet blend of Pride and Prejudice meets Trixie Belden, I really quite enjoyed it for what it was. A quiet little mystery, without too many bells and whistles (which sometimes did not work in its favour) and without the corny kissy, kissy. I wanted to give the book 5 stars for half of it, but then there were long sections surrounding Captain Holland and his military world that I felt did not have to be there and were perhaps put in to fill pages. This one is the second in the series. I bought it on a bargain bench many years ago not realising it was a Book #2, so I have been avoiding it ever since. I wish now that I had read Book #1 first, The Blackstone Key. I believe the author released a Book #3 in 2010, but judging by the tumbleweeds on her website and no murmur online about a Book #4, that must be it. Three books. It is disappointing to see that the author has written no more in the series, but I would still like to try 1 and 3 in the future as I was charmed by the main characters Mary Finch and Captain Holland. Considering that, I hope that if the author plans no more books in the series, that she has at least tied things up in Book 3.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yukari Watanabe

    I love "Silent in the Grave" by Deanna Raybourn , "And Only To Deceive" by Tasha Alexander, and "What Angels Fear" by C.S. Harris. Publishers Weekly's review states, "quirky characters and sparkling period detail should keep fans of light historical thrillers turning the pages". Therefore, I was ready to fall in love with "The Counterfeit Guest", but... Maybe my expectation was too high, neither did I fall in love with it nor did I keep turning the pages. I became bored. The pace of the story is t I love "Silent in the Grave" by Deanna Raybourn , "And Only To Deceive" by Tasha Alexander, and "What Angels Fear" by C.S. Harris. Publishers Weekly's review states, "quirky characters and sparkling period detail should keep fans of light historical thrillers turning the pages". Therefore, I was ready to fall in love with "The Counterfeit Guest", but... Maybe my expectation was too high, neither did I fall in love with it nor did I keep turning the pages. I became bored. The pace of the story is too slow and characters are not attractive enough for me to care. Nothing happens for a long time and the love interest of the protagonist is not very interesting. I brought this book with me for a 13-hour-flight to be entertained. I was glad I had another book which was a non-fiction about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The fact that I was more entertained by the book about OCD tells you a lot. Having said that, I still enjoyed the details, especially the conversations between old ladies. That was my favorite part of The Counterfeit Guest.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Knowles

    This is the second book in Rose Melikan's series about Mary Finch, but was actually the first one I read, as I originally took it out of the library to read. As with her first book, there is lots of historical detail, especially about the Woolwich Warren and the naval mutinies of 1797. I really enjoyed reading about Mary's adventures as a spy, but found the slow progress of her romance a bit exasperating. This is the second book in Rose Melikan's series about Mary Finch, but was actually the first one I read, as I originally took it out of the library to read. As with her first book, there is lots of historical detail, especially about the Woolwich Warren and the naval mutinies of 1797. I really enjoyed reading about Mary's adventures as a spy, but found the slow progress of her romance a bit exasperating.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jodee

    I was looking for a good period mystery. Just moved to slow for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    really a 3.5. That said, I will not be looking for this author's first or upcoming novels in the series. Kept my interest, but not great. really a 3.5. That said, I will not be looking for this author's first or upcoming novels in the series. Kept my interest, but not great.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan in Perthshire

    I find it really tricky to rate this book. For me, a 5 star review means 5 stars across the board: - writing, plotting, characterisation, authenticity, and that indefinable spark which keeps me reading: absolutely glued to the page. This one did not reach 5 stars in some of those areas and the indefinable spark just never happened at all! The author has thoroughly researched her period and the book is full of authentic detail about the military, social, and cultural context at the time. Although I find it really tricky to rate this book. For me, a 5 star review means 5 stars across the board: - writing, plotting, characterisation, authenticity, and that indefinable spark which keeps me reading: absolutely glued to the page. This one did not reach 5 stars in some of those areas and the indefinable spark just never happened at all! The author has thoroughly researched her period and the book is full of authentic detail about the military, social, and cultural context at the time. Although some of the description is a bit lengthy and overly detailed, she certainly conveys historical detail and atmosphere very well. Rose Melikan writes well; this is not one of those books where the inability to use the English Language makes your teeth hurt! No, she is accomplished in that respect and yet.... I was bored. I could not engage with Mary who seems such a potentially fascinating character at the beginning. Actually, I found most of the characters drab and uninteresting. Charlotte showed signs of being interesting but was not in the book enough. The plot meandered and never had an iota of suspense in my eyes. As for the romance - what romance? As a keen afficionado of historical romances, thrillers, mysteries et al, I am always looking for a new author to follow. Sadly, despite what one reviewer said, I did not find Rose Melikan anywhere near Georgette Heyer's level at all. I am really disappointed as I liked the story line and so wanted to love the book. Sorry, but it just did not work for me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Layla Batchellier

    To begin with I found this book slow going, it took me ages to get drawn into the story as there was a lot of hints of excitement without action. After the first 2/3rds of the book I began to get drawn in and enjoyed following Mary as a spy. It was well written and as others have said the historical detail is great, however, I would not recommend to someone who wants to be immediately gripped by a novel.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karenbike Patterson

    After reading 100+ pages and there still was no discernible plot, I gave up. Even Mary Finch had such a bland personality that I had no interest in her. She was just suspecting that her friend was unhappily married to an uber rich man at page 100. It takes more than that for me to invest my time and effort in a mediocre book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I loved this installment as well as the original novel. Not only do the characters and setting feel of a time long ago, but even the way the book reads and the descriptions given sound like the book was written in the time period described. The intrigue was cool, the romance kept me coming back for more, and the tension had me on tenterhooks.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Fun and exciting and somewhat unexpected. I love the characters and the way they overcome adversity and look forward to the next book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anne Brosnan

    The funny thing is that I was on the side of the French in their efforts to make England democratic. The heroes were fighting on the wrong side of history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Lots of historical information and ludicrously formed intrigue, romance so slow, enjoyed some of it but wanted it to move quicker.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    I really like the characters Rose Melikan has created in this trilogy. This is the second book, the first is 'The Blackstone Key' and the third is 'The Mistaken Wife' which is due to be released this year. There may be spoilers in this review for those of you who haven't read 'The Blackstone Key' yet. So, if you are taking a peek at reviews to see if you'd like to read this trilogy don't read any further. Some of what happens in the first book may be spoiled by what I have to say about the secon I really like the characters Rose Melikan has created in this trilogy. This is the second book, the first is 'The Blackstone Key' and the third is 'The Mistaken Wife' which is due to be released this year. There may be spoilers in this review for those of you who haven't read 'The Blackstone Key' yet. So, if you are taking a peek at reviews to see if you'd like to read this trilogy don't read any further. Some of what happens in the first book may be spoiled by what I have to say about the second book. But I won't give away any more than the book cover does with regard to this story. The setting for this novel is Georgian England, the story unfolds among military men and the aristocracy. Mary Finch, the clever schoolmistress has become a wealthy heiress. In this adventure she travels with her newly married friend Susannah Armitage, to the newlyweds' country home, in order to spy on Susannah's husband, Colonel Crosby-Nash, who is suspected of being a traitor. I really enjoyed this historical mystery. It's somewhat difficult for me to describe what is so satisfying about this book. Certainly part of it is the intrigue, mystery and suspense of the plot-line and another part is the potential for the heroine to fall in love (not in any bosom heaving, references to honey, kind of way, thank you very much). I also like the male relationships and would have enjoyed even more insight into the relationship between Captain Holland and his servant Gunner Drake, I love a side kick with a heavy accent. Reading this novel was a little like returning to old friends and that is part of my attraction to series and trilogies with characters that I enjoy. I'm sure I'm not alone in that sentiment. This reminded me a bit of the Lady Julia series by Deanna Raybourn, it you enjoyed those I think you would probably like these books as well. I found two different release dates for the third book, 'The Mistaken Wife' and ordered it already. I eagerly await it's arrival and I hope that Ms. Melikan continues writing about these characters.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Billy

    Suspense, no; romanace, no; excellent prose, yes..., It is very hard to review a book like this. Based purely on the storyline I would probably rate it a high 2 or a 3. Based purely on the style of writing, the grammar and syntax, the ability to put together solid sentences, not to mention the vivid descriptions of person, thing and place, and I would have to say that this is one of the most excellently written novels that I have ever read; certainly deserving 4+ stars. I will add that I think th Suspense, no; romanace, no; excellent prose, yes..., It is very hard to review a book like this. Based purely on the storyline I would probably rate it a high 2 or a 3. Based purely on the style of writing, the grammar and syntax, the ability to put together solid sentences, not to mention the vivid descriptions of person, thing and place, and I would have to say that this is one of the most excellently written novels that I have ever read; certainly deserving 4+ stars. I will add that I think the one thing that could have made the writing perfect would be to change the p.o.v. from which the book was written; a story like this is not meant to be written in total omniscient p.o.v. So, I give a kind compromise of 4 stars for this one. The story is highly under done; there is no suspense and the plot is not thick, remaining all too predictable. The romance is non-existent. No, the only true beauty in this book is Melikan's ability to make the past come alive, if you'll pardon the cliche. I felt as if I was there when it came to the places and the people, the homes and balls, the trinkets and prizes from overseas. Melikan certainly has a huge talent for writing strong, compelling characters who live in easily seen environs, based upon her descriptions. I would mainly recommend this as a period piece for those who really enjoy reading about the time (end of 18th Century London and surrounding areas). The book fails in its attempt to be suspenseful and almost comes off as ridiculous because of the loose ends left hanging, and I don't mean the kind that could be cleaned up in another sequel. So, I don't know if I'll go back and read Melikan's first offering, The Blackstone Key, and I don't know if I'll read another portion of this storyline, should it continue, but I would read anything new from this author, her writing is just that good; most impressive to this grammar-nazi.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marthe Bijman

    Rose Melikan’s heroine, Mary Finch, stands on the gold-embossed cover of “The Counterfeit Guest”, looking stoic, hand clutching bosom, dragging a voluminous cloak, like a cross between Scarlett O’Hara of “Gone with the Wind” and Jo of “Little Women”. The illustration is a foretaste of the writing:-slickly executed but not quite convincing and occasionally too formulaic. At times it does not know what it wants to be – parody, romance or thriller, and the lead character dithers between being an ea Rose Melikan’s heroine, Mary Finch, stands on the gold-embossed cover of “The Counterfeit Guest”, looking stoic, hand clutching bosom, dragging a voluminous cloak, like a cross between Scarlett O’Hara of “Gone with the Wind” and Jo of “Little Women”. The illustration is a foretaste of the writing:-slickly executed but not quite convincing and occasionally too formulaic. At times it does not know what it wants to be – parody, romance or thriller, and the lead character dithers between being an early Suffragette and succumbing to wilting wantonness. But this novel, and Melikan’s previous one, The Blackstone Key, seem to have been a hit with historical mystery fans – and they should know how many blushes, fisticuffs and dramatic gallops are too much.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I found this book quite slow to start with, I felt as though I'd got a third of the way through the book before it actually started to get interesting. I'm glad I stuck with it though because it was a good story. I enjoyed the sense of mystery and it was interesting to read about a period of history that I don't know too much about. I was a bit disappointed to find after I started reading that this was the second book in a series, as there were several points in the book that referred back to pr I found this book quite slow to start with, I felt as though I'd got a third of the way through the book before it actually started to get interesting. I'm glad I stuck with it though because it was a good story. I enjoyed the sense of mystery and it was interesting to read about a period of history that I don't know too much about. I was a bit disappointed to find after I started reading that this was the second book in a series, as there were several points in the book that referred back to previous events that obviously happened in the first book. Luckily this didn't have any major impact on my enjoyment of this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sx

    A rather dry book with splotches of humour. The prose was well written, and while certainly informative, there was just not enough suspense and action or any form of plot movement to keep me riveted. Dick and/or Charlotte should be given more scenes for they do brighten up the conversation and Dick is a more complex man than his outwardly flamboyant character. As usual, there were times I wanted to throttle Mary for her slowness. She worries but she keeps putting them to rest, never acting more A rather dry book with splotches of humour. The prose was well written, and while certainly informative, there was just not enough suspense and action or any form of plot movement to keep me riveted. Dick and/or Charlotte should be given more scenes for they do brighten up the conversation and Dick is a more complex man than his outwardly flamboyant character. As usual, there were times I wanted to throttle Mary for her slowness. She worries but she keeps putting them to rest, never acting more cautiously. A good casual read for a bedtime story. It's plodding plot literally lulled me to sleep.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rex Schrader

    A fun continuation of the characters from the first book. Started out a little slow, but quickly gained speed. Switching between the two main characters kept the action going and helped to increase the narrative tension. Again, a delightful return to the post French Revolution Great Britain. Some of the text features actual notes from French driven Agent Provocateurs, which is very cool.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Let's say 3 1/2 stars. I now understand why the one I was reading made no sense - it assumed I'd read this one. Ooops. 1797, Napoleonic Wars (again), spy / mystery. The writing is a little cumbersome, but maybe it was because I read it over too long a period of time. One flaw - the relationship thing here is going too slowly, it's just not working for me. In any case, I enjoyed it and can now move onto the next one! Let's say 3 1/2 stars. I now understand why the one I was reading made no sense - it assumed I'd read this one. Ooops. 1797, Napoleonic Wars (again), spy / mystery. The writing is a little cumbersome, but maybe it was because I read it over too long a period of time. One flaw - the relationship thing here is going too slowly, it's just not working for me. In any case, I enjoyed it and can now move onto the next one!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Zampetti

    Heyer fans - among others - will enjoy Melikan's second book. Entertaining, if predictable, The Counterfeit Guest furthers the adventures of new heiress Mary Finch, introduced so sprightly in The Blackstone Key. A neat interlude to enjoy while awaiting more from Tasha Alexander, Charles Finch, or even Deanna Raybourn. Heyer fans - among others - will enjoy Melikan's second book. Entertaining, if predictable, The Counterfeit Guest furthers the adventures of new heiress Mary Finch, introduced so sprightly in The Blackstone Key. A neat interlude to enjoy while awaiting more from Tasha Alexander, Charles Finch, or even Deanna Raybourn.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Noni

    Very dry English historical fiction set in the 1700s with a feisty protagonist. Although the author is an American expatriate living in England - the book in style is pure English and could easily lose the reader by its dryness. The ingredients for a great historical are there - it just takes a bit too long to put them all together. A fan of historical fiction but not this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    RetroWhoGal

    I could not finish this story as I lost interest. Just as it started to get interesting there was always some silly chatter about clothes and how to decorate a house. To me it was a bit here and there and confused as to genre. I prefer my thrillers to be a little more exciting and about chasing the villains and less to do with shopping trips.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anne Wright

    The counterfeit guest by Rose Melikan I gave this book a 4.75 out of 5 I really enjoyed this book combining two genres crime and history. I found a need to read to the end and I could not put the book down which is great I have a new author to read, the heroine is brave and resourceful and lead you through the book from adventure to adventure. A really great read

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    I was so looking forward to this one...even bought it on the basis of how much I enjoyed the first in the series...but I found it slow going. I'm not sure if it was the book or just my mood while reading it but I am hoping the third will grab me. I was so looking forward to this one...even bought it on the basis of how much I enjoyed the first in the series...but I found it slow going. I'm not sure if it was the book or just my mood while reading it but I am hoping the third will grab me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Another adventure presents itself to Mary Finch and she must decide whether or not to spy on Susannah's new husband. Captain Holland makes many appearances as his work also runs parallel to Mary's adventure. This was an easy mystery to read set in the late 1700s. Another adventure presents itself to Mary Finch and she must decide whether or not to spy on Susannah's new husband. Captain Holland makes many appearances as his work also runs parallel to Mary's adventure. This was an easy mystery to read set in the late 1700s.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Athos

    If a mystery novel can be described simultaneously as a tranquil and suspenseful read, then that's what I've got to say about this one. It was pleasant and generally satisfying, and that's the best I can do. If a mystery novel can be described simultaneously as a tranquil and suspenseful read, then that's what I've got to say about this one. It was pleasant and generally satisfying, and that's the best I can do.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    It was good. It had it's lengths. It is in British English spelling but it contains some clearly US English words/phrases - that threw me a few times. I will certainly read the third Mary Finch novel as well, just not right away. It was good. It had it's lengths. It is in British English spelling but it contains some clearly US English words/phrases - that threw me a few times. I will certainly read the third Mary Finch novel as well, just not right away.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    Very good book, loved Mary's spirit and love of mystery. Kept me on the edge of my seat!!!! I can't wait to read the first book and I hope Mary and Holland have more Adventures!!! Very good book, loved Mary's spirit and love of mystery. Kept me on the edge of my seat!!!! I can't wait to read the first book and I hope Mary and Holland have more Adventures!!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Luisa

    Blackstone Key was a lot better than this one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tamera

    This book was so much fun to read. It has mystery, adventure and a splash of romance. What's not to love? This book was so much fun to read. It has mystery, adventure and a splash of romance. What's not to love?

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