It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Fallen Woman of good family must, soon or late, descend to whoredom.

In Madeleine Robins' alternate Regency mysteries, Sarah Tolerance became a Fallen Woman when, as a teenager, she ran off with her fencing master. When the series opens, she is a young widow who has created a new role for herself as an investigative agent, solving mysteries with the help of her wits, her knowledge of society... and her awesome swordfighting skills.

This witty, clever, immersive, and sometimes quite angsty set of novels is one of those series that could have been a huge mainstream hit, but wasn't. Perhaps it was because of the horrific cover of the first book, Point of Honour, in which Sarah Tolerance appears to be either a vampire or a zombie. Perhaps marketing was lacking, or wrongly focused. Or perhaps it was chance. Whatever the reason, they got a small cadre of devoted fans, then fell out of print.

However, the series has been re-launched with a new novel (print only, from a different publisher) and Kindle editions of the old ones. They don't have to be read in sequence, but I'd recommend it. In order, they are Point of Honour, Petty Treason, and the new one, The Sleeping Partner.

The Sleeping Partner has less suspense and swordfighting than the previous two, and focuses more on Sarah Tolerance's past and her present relationships, and on the place of women in society. It's absorbing and thoughtful, and has a nice surprise!historical figure cameo near the end. If you liked the previous novels, you will like it.

Can someone who knows the period and has read the books explain to me the differences in Robins' alt-Regency and the real one? I get that the actual regent is different, but I don't know enough to be able to tell how that affected the society and how that enables Sarah to do what she does.

Robins has also released several regular Regencies on Kindle. I haven't read any of those.
londonkds: (Default)

From: [personal profile] londonkds

According to Amazon, the difference is that when George III went mad, his queen became regent instead of his son the later George IV. Which would probably have been much better, given that George IV was one of the vilest despicable shits ever to sit on the British throne. (Blackadder the Third was much too kind to him.)
kore: (Default)

From: [personal profile] kore

Charles I actually gets my vote for Possibly Shittiest Monarch Ever.
londonkds: (pervy (by redscharlach))

From: [personal profile] londonkds

Henry VII lived in a more politically unstable time. Also, he was king of England rather than Britain.
meara: (Default)

From: [personal profile] meara

Oh, man, I misread and was excited for a second thinking the new one was available for Kindle. I have both the others in paperback (from a used bookstore)
kore: (books in the wild)

From: [personal profile] kore

However, the series has been re-launched with a new novel (print only, from a different publisher) and Kindle editions of the old ones

....omg you did not just do that to me
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu

I cannot wait for the new publisher to fix its ebook issues and release the third!

From: [identity profile]

I love these, too, but don't know enough about the period to know the differences. (Also, you've spelled her first name incorrectly. It's Madeleine with an a.)

From: [identity profile]

The main difference is that with the Queen Mother as regent, women having coffee houses is respectable.

From: [identity profile]

I thought I remembered the author discussing this somewhere, but all I can find is her FAQ on the divergence ( - sorry, can't do the link properly on an iPhone). Basically, Charlotte as regent makes it possible for Sarah to have a profession and still associate with respectable people, and for there to exist a club that accepts women as members.

From: [identity profile]

Oo, this sounds like fun. *grabs a sample* I really do want more novels about women who fence.

From: [identity profile]

There are a lot of things the Sarah Tolerance series does well. One of them is that I completely believe the backstory of how she came to be such a good fencer.

From: [identity profile]

Robins is on LJ - you could always go ask her questions! [ profile] madrobins

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