Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas


A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
Book One of the Lady Sherlock series
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society.  But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London. 

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

What I Liked:

When I first saw this, I was curious, because I've read some of Sherry Thomas's books in the past, and really enjoyed them. She writes adult historical romance, Young Adult fantasy, and now alternate historical fiction! Such a wide range of fiction to write. And Thomas has not let readers down, in any genre or age level!

I'm counting this as my Pili-Pushed recommendation of August! To see all of my Pili-Pushed reviews, click on the "Pili Pushed" tag on my blog!

Charlotte Holmes has a brilliant mind and excellent memory, and it has always set her apart. She isn't interested in catching a husband and maintaining a household - she wants independence. To achieve her independence, she does something ghastly, and she runs away, as a result. Now on the streets, Charlotte is faced with the harsh reality of being a woman with no references, no experience, and no education. But when three deaths occur, two of which involving her sister and father, Charlotte knows she must do something to cast the blame elsewhere. She knows her family is innocent. Sherlock Holmes is born, a mastermind problem-solver, and it is up to Holmes to solve the mystery of the three murders.

I liked Charlotte - she's so clever and observant, it's almost bizarre! At first I was furious at The Thing she did that turned society against her - how could she do something like that? But I came to really respect her decision, and who she involved, and why it needed to happen. I wish it had happened some other way, but you have to admit, it was... well thought-out. Charlotte - Sherlock - is brilliant and thinks of just about everything. At times I wondered if she felt human emotions like everyone else, but Charlotte is just as human as anyone else.

Other characters worth mentioning - Mrs. Watson, Inspector Treadles, Lord Ingram, Livia. Mrs. Watson takes in Charlotte as a lady's maid, but she's more than meets the eye. In fact, Charlotte doesn't know certain things about Mrs. Watson until the very end of the book. Inspector Treadles is put in charge of investigating the Sackville death (one of the three), the one not indirectly related to the Holmes family. Treadles is quite intelligent in his own regard, and I love how sweet he is with his wife. Lord Ingram is a rich and powerful lord, married to a haughty, cold woman who is estranged from him, and has two children. Lord Ingram is, well, Lord Ingram. He is the silent, intelligent type, very clever but one that has a quiet yet forceful presence. Livia is Charlotte's older sister, who, at twenty-seven, is a spinster in her parents' home. I liked Livia, though I liked Charlotte more.

This book is written in third-person, and we get to read from Charlotte's, Treadles', and Livia's POV. I liked Charlotte's the most, but as the book went on, I began to really enjoy Treadles'. Livia's felt the most useless to me, throughout the whole book.

The mystery was so well-written! I wasn't quite sure of anything, until the reveal. Thomas has a way of twisting the story so that you're never sure who did what, no matter how sure you think you are. It certainly kept me reading! The more interesting parts of the mystery came around the 40% mark and beyond.

There is a tiny smidgen of romance, but it's weird and complicated, and I really can't see how Thomas will make that work. Part of me really doesn't want Thomas to make it work. But then, Charlotte and her man are really great together. They've known each other for years, and while they've never done anything with each other, they've had this simmering chemistry between them for years. I want it to work out but... it's weird. How is Thomas going to make it happen?

This book wrapped up perfectly, with the mystery solved and the correct people taken blame. I know this is book one of a series, but I'm honestly curious as to how this will be a series. I'm glad though, because I want to know how the barely-there romance is going to work out. Oh, and I'd love to see more mysteries solved by Sherlock Holmes!

What I Did Not Like:

I'm going to be honest -- the first, let's say, one-third of this book was frustratingly slow, and boring. I struggled to get past that initial one-third, and it took me several days to do so. Once I did, I flew through the rest of the book.

Obviously I'm going to complain about the romance -- it's so disappointing in a way! I don't know how Thomas is going to let it work out, because there really is no good ending. Unless everyone dies. Or key people. Ugh! Frustrating.

Would I Recommend It:

I do like this book a lot, and there is very little "big stuff" to complain about, so I do recommend it. However, it might be a good idea to binge-read the series, if you're like me and would prefer a romance easier on the heart? I have no idea how Thomas is going to let that work out, but I'm sure binge-reading the series will be much less painful than waiting for each book to publish to see how things go. 

Of course, if you couldn't care less about romance, and you're 100% in it for the mystery, then READ THIS! It's such a great historical fiction + mystery novel! Gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes for the win.

Rating:

4 stars. My complaints seem relatively tiny compared to how much I liked the book overall. Hopefully the series in general will work out nicely (in terms of those few complaints I had). I am looking forward to reading the next book! (In Fall 2017, unfortunately...)


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

25 comments:

  1. You know I love romance, but there are cases when I don't mind the lack of it. I love the sound of Charlotte and can't wait to see how she relates to the real Sherlock Holmes. And I'm excited that the mystery is so well-written.
    Lovely review, Alyssa!

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    1. It's not the lack of romance that bothered me, but the romance itself... it's so weird. o.O I hope you enjoy this one if you read it, Nick!

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  2. I love the gender reversal for this retelling. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Lekeisha! It seems like one you would like. =)

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  3. I'm really glad to hear you ended up loving this one even if the beginning was challenging for you!! =D

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    1. I am too! Just anxious for book two now. ^_^

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  4. I normally don’t read Adult fiction, but this one has definitely caught my eye. I do love Sherlock Holmes and the various retellings there are out there (even though I’ve never actually read any of the stories...but I love the movies and TV show!), and this one sounds fantastic. Besides the slowness of a third of the book, I’m glad you enjoyed this one! Great review :D

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    1. And it's just fiction (not adult romance, with the rated R stuff)! I've actually not read or watched any Holmes stuff either, but it's something everyone knows about (I think?), so I'm vaguely familiar with the story. :D

      Thank you!

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    2. Aw, I recommend reading the original stories—at least try the twelve in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." My favorite is the last one.

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  5. Sounds worth a read for sure. And I do love most of Sherlock Holmes incarnations. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. Oooo, that's good! You're very welcome. <3

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  6. Will definitely be reading this I get all my recommendation from your blog :)

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    1. YAY! Aww, thank you, Melissa! I'm blushing over here! <333

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  7. Just a peek since I have this one for review, too. Glad to see that four star rating. I'll have to come back and get your pros and cons in a bit.

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    1. Ooo! I'm quite sure you'll like it, Sophia. And thank you for that, I appreciate!

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  8. Oo this sounds right up my alley and for books like this I don't mind a slow beginning. I'll have to add this one to my to read list. Fantastic review. Also, I really like that cover! :D

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    1. I could definitely see you enjoying tihs one, Erin! Happy reading. ^_^

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  9. Ohh amazing review Alyssa I've been dying too read a book by Sherry Thomas for a long time now. I heard such great things about her books especially this series! I am hopeful I can check out her books soon I just know I will really love Sherry Thomas books! Thank you for the awesome post my friend.

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    1. Ooo! Well, this is adult fiction, but she also writes adult historical romance, and YA fantasy. Her YA fantasy trilogy is SO good.

      You're very welcome!

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  10. Ahhh. I am too nervous now to read this one, haha :) I want romance :( And you are unsure about this romance? Gaaaah. I'm nervous. This will be my first adult book by Sherry :) And I'm excited. Yet now nervous, haha :D But four stars is good. I'm so glad you enjoyed most of it sweetie :) Yay.

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    1. I wanted more substantial romance than what was given! The supposed couple barely even look at each other. And there was something SO bad about the romance... it's weird. You'll see what I mean. But hopefully, like me, you can look past it!

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  11. Oh, this is not my kind of reads, but it sounds really good. I've heard many good things about it, so I'll add it to my TBR.
    Great review, Alyssa!

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    1. It's a great story! And not adult romance, fyi.

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  12. You know I love Thomas, right? I'm so looking forward to reading this one not only because Thomas wrote it, but because I'm also a big Sherlock fan AND a historical fiction fan :)

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    1. Yaaasss! I hope you love this one, Liza! It seems EXACTLY like your type of book. ;D

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