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Blood for Blood    by S. K. Rizzolo order for
Blood for Blood
by S. K. Rizzolo
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Nina de Angeli

In order to support herself and her child, Mrs. Penelope Wolfe (abandoned by her husband) has taken a position as companion to the beautiful but unhappy Lady Julia Ashe. Ominous undercurrents in the Ashe household break loose when a footman is found murdered in the garden. In this sequel to The Rose in the Wheel, Penelope persuades Lord Ashe to call in her friend, Bow Street runner John Chase, to seek the killer. Chase's dogged persistence endangers his life when it leads him to Jacobin plots, dangerous government secrets, and a charismatic religious movement.

Lady Ashe's husband and father hide a mystery from their past that haunts the family, and the murdered footman is not what he seems. The main story is set in London in spring, 1812, with the final scenes in the Dorset countryside. A prologue and a series of flashbacks follow the experiences of Rebecca, a servant seduced and betrayed. Her surprising story eventually converges with the main plot.

Rizzolo's ambitious design and extensive research for this title would have been ample to fill two books. There is much of historical interest here, perhaps too much. The central plot and characters are not strong enough to carry the weight of all the subplots. There is a confusion of too many nonessential minor characters and frequent shifts in viewpoint. Also, many unexplained references to the first book in the series are distracting for the reader unfamiliar with it.

However, the persistent reader will find that the second half of the book reads more smoothly, when the various subplots begin to come together.

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