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Pilfered Promises

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Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together. For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francis Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together. For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar. However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems. Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house and it comes right before the newest novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer


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Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together. For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francis Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together. For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar. However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems. Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house and it comes right before the newest novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer

30 review for Pilfered Promises

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    DNF. I tried. But there is so much that prevented me from finishing this book. First, I was listening to the audiobook version. The reader was not that great. The accents were off, there were moments where she read way too fast, and there was absolutely no emotion in the voice. As for the story. Nothing was happening despite there being too many points of view. It was a dull story with one dimensional characters and unnecessary information. I am sorry. I am sure this is a wonderful book to some. DNF. I tried. But there is so much that prevented me from finishing this book. First, I was listening to the audiobook version. The reader was not that great. The accents were off, there were moments where she read way too fast, and there was absolutely no emotion in the voice. As for the story. Nothing was happening despite there being too many points of view. It was a dull story with one dimensional characters and unnecessary information. I am sorry. I am sure this is a wonderful book to some. But it did not work for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shanella

    Back to being mostly Annie - which I liked in the first two stories - this one was one of my favourites in the series. It had all the elements of the story I enjoyed - a quick read, layered mystery, a lot of Annie and an expansion on the story of the boarders. You don't need to read the first books to enjoy all the rest, there is usually a recap whenever a character or situation is introduced, I liked the episodic way the stories are written. I'll be keeping an eye out for M. Louisa Locke's futu Back to being mostly Annie - which I liked in the first two stories - this one was one of my favourites in the series. It had all the elements of the story I enjoyed - a quick read, layered mystery, a lot of Annie and an expansion on the story of the boarders. You don't need to read the first books to enjoy all the rest, there is usually a recap whenever a character or situation is introduced, I liked the episodic way the stories are written. I'll be keeping an eye out for M. Louisa Locke's future stories.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    The novel is set in the holiday season of 1880. A large department store in San Francisco is finding that quite a lot of their inventory has gone missing. As Annie, Nate, Patrick, and Kathleen attempt to find out why, an employee is murdered--could her death have something to do with the theft? Is the store owner's entitled wealthy son involved? Great characters and thorough historical research into the time and place make this series one of my favorites. This is my second time reading this hist The novel is set in the holiday season of 1880. A large department store in San Francisco is finding that quite a lot of their inventory has gone missing. As Annie, Nate, Patrick, and Kathleen attempt to find out why, an employee is murdered--could her death have something to do with the theft? Is the store owner's entitled wealthy son involved? Great characters and thorough historical research into the time and place make this series one of my favorites. This is my second time reading this historical holiday mystery--I love that the author has made this a kindle freebie for the holidays!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Holly A. Woodruff

    Another satisfying book in the series I have become very fond of Annie, her husband Nate, and all the residents and staff of her boarding house. I still miss Annie's subterfuge as Madame Sybil, but the mystery more than makes up for it. As with the other books in the series, the story is complete, no cliffhangers. But it helps if you've read them from the beginning so you know more about the characters. There are a few references to the earlier books, but not so many as to be distracting. There i Another satisfying book in the series I have become very fond of Annie, her husband Nate, and all the residents and staff of her boarding house. I still miss Annie's subterfuge as Madame Sybil, but the mystery more than makes up for it. As with the other books in the series, the story is complete, no cliffhangers. But it helps if you've read them from the beginning so you know more about the characters. There are a few references to the earlier books, but not so many as to be distracting. There is a side story of Nate trying a divorce case that gives one insight into the lack of power women had in 1880, even in the more progressive state of California. I love the detail that Ms. Locke provides about life in San Francisco around the 1880s. This is a wonderful series and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries and historical fiction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    PAM

    Very Detailed The first part of the book was in such detail I debated whether to finish it. There was so much going on in the book and so many characters, at times I felt confused. The story ended hurriedly, in my opinion, but I was glad I read it to the end. I would recommend this book to those that enjoy this series, but not as a light read. I gave it 3 stars because I feel it just didn't flow well and was not the "page turner" the other books by this author were. Very Detailed The first part of the book was in such detail I debated whether to finish it. There was so much going on in the book and so many characters, at times I felt confused. The story ended hurriedly, in my opinion, but I was glad I read it to the end. I would recommend this book to those that enjoy this series, but not as a light read. I gave it 3 stars because I feel it just didn't flow well and was not the "page turner" the other books by this author were.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauretta

    I really enjoy Ms. Locke's Victorian setting mysteries. The crimes are just as bad, but the police and Mr. and Mrs. Dawson seem to handle them in a much more refined way than modern detectives! Mr. and Mrs. Dawson are settling happily into married life when Annie is called upon to help one of the city's largest and most successful emporiums, the Silver Strike, solve what appear to be thefts due to a shoplifting ring. On Thanksgiving morning, as the store is being decorated for the Christmas shop I really enjoy Ms. Locke's Victorian setting mysteries. The crimes are just as bad, but the police and Mr. and Mrs. Dawson seem to handle them in a much more refined way than modern detectives! Mr. and Mrs. Dawson are settling happily into married life when Annie is called upon to help one of the city's largest and most successful emporiums, the Silver Strike, solve what appear to be thefts due to a shoplifting ring. On Thanksgiving morning, as the store is being decorated for the Christmas shopping season, the premier dress designer is found dead on a darl stairway, having been pushed down and smothered for good measure. Annie and Nate's work becomes a murder investigation, too. Their investigation reveals betrayal of the store's owner by his spoiled son and previously unknown family connections between two of Annie's favorite boarders and the orphaned daughter of the murdered Silver Strike employee. The book ends with an eagerly awaited announcement by Mr. and Mrs. Dawson that makes everyone's Christmas celebration all the merrier.

  7. 5 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    The holiday season of 1880 is approaching and Annie is looking forward to celebrating with her new husband Nate and all their friends at the boarding house. Bea is going all out preparing a Thanksgiving feast, Kathleen is hoping for a few extra dollars to help buy gifts for her family, the Misses Moffatt are sewing up a storm. Nate has been busy working on a divorce case and hardly has time to eat. On top of that, the happy couple are asked to intervene in family drama for Nate's in-laws. This l The holiday season of 1880 is approaching and Annie is looking forward to celebrating with her new husband Nate and all their friends at the boarding house. Bea is going all out preparing a Thanksgiving feast, Kathleen is hoping for a few extra dollars to help buy gifts for her family, the Misses Moffatt are sewing up a storm. Nate has been busy working on a divorce case and hardly has time to eat. On top of that, the happy couple are asked to intervene in family drama for Nate's in-laws. This leads Robert Livingston, owner of the Silver Strike Bazaar (department store) to ask for their help investigating a series of thefts from the store and missing items from the warehouse. Annie loves the emporium with it's steam powered elevator and multiple departments. She enjoys visiting the dressmaking department where a Mrs. Fournier designs beautiful dresses and supervises the seamstresses and Madame Villeneuve exacts her high standards on the millinery employees. Annie begins to suspect Mr. Livingston's son, Robbie, is somehow involved with the thefts but without proof, she doesn't want to worry the man. She enlists the aid of Kathleen's beau, Officer Patrick McGee, to help keep an eye on the store. Then Annie learns that Mrs. Fournier has fallen down the stairs of her 5th floor apartment above the shop and died. The police believe her death was suspicious. It's up to Annie to find out if the thefts and Mrs. Fournier's death are related. What will happen to Emmaline, Mrs. Fournier's little girl? The Villeneuves want to adopt but what about the girl's father or his family? This is going to be a tough knot to unravel. This is a complicated story bogged down by too many unrelated events. The beginning of the story isn't necessary and doesn't go in the direction I expected. There's also an unrelated divorce case that has no bearing on the plot whatsoever. While the history of divorce in California is interesting, this subplot could have been a whole separate mystery. I figured out some of what was going on and realized Marie's secret when the letters were found. I think the author took a way too safe option there and should have left well enough alone. I know holiday stories are supposed to be heartwarming but this one seemed a little unrealistic. Better to leave it exposing a dark side of American history without the cozy ending. Even so, I enjoyed this book the most of the series so far. The historical details were worked into the plot much better than in previous novels. It helps that the setting is a department store and every adult reading this knows what a department store is either from memories or the movies. There is a lot about how the store works (150 employees is not enough!) and how the departments are arranged. I enjoyed the tour of the store though. I have fond memories of when the American Girl store in Chicago opened as an experience reflecting those old department stores. The only thing the Silver Strike Bazaar lacks is a theater and I'm sure that will come in the future once San Francisco is a bit more established. Anyway, this book lacks the lecture aspect of the previous books. I really felt like I was right there in the story and experiencing the delights of Christmas shopping along with Annie, Kathleen, Laura, Jamie and Emmaline- without having to deal with the crowds myself, although the crowds ARE there! Not much has changed in 140 years! Crazy Christmas shoppers can shop online now, thankfully but it doesn't replace that magic experience. I know Santa Claus didn't arrive in department stores until a decade later but it would have been fun to include him somewhere. (Not like this though, "You'll shoot your eye out kid! Merry Christmas, HO HO HO!", in a nicer way, for Emmaline.) Fun fact: The cash register was invented only a year earlier. It would have solved so many problems if Mr. Livingston had bought one right away! I really like Annie and how she's made the most of her tough adulthood. Her first husband sounds like a really bad apple and his family probably spoiled and indulged him making him that way. They sound awful too. I feel bad that Annie felt the need to give up Madame Sybil but so happy she can be herself and offer financial advice to both men and women. The west was a very different place than the prim and proper east coast! Annie and Nate are a good team. It's sweet how he understands her without speaking and knows when she will be an asset to his work even if he hasn't been asked to bring her specifically. Nate knows her strengths and one of those is knowing what to say to people. Annie is sweet, kind and caring. She wants to give back to all the friends in the boarding house who stuck by her through the lean years and give them a holiday bash to end all holiday bashes! Her Thanksgiving feast and Christmas party are so much fun and her gifts are thoughtful. Annie is also very astute and sizes up Violet's mother quickly. I disagree with the way Mrs. Kemper was portrayed though. She may be unpleasant, lonely and bored but kleptomania is a real mental disorder. I understand the need to have the characters understand the problem through the lens of their own time but why include it at all if it isn't relevant to the main plot? The boardinghouse crew are all wonderful as always. Kathleen is a crazy hard worker. She enjoys the hard work and helping Annie. She has mixed feelings about her relationship with Patrick and how quickly he wants to proceed. This novel features a lot about women worrying about doing what is expected of them vs. what they would like to do (independence). Annie and Kathleen have a lot in common! Little Tilly, the new maid, breaks my heart. She sounds so young and in need of school and being taken care of. She's silent now but I expect soon she'll come out of her shell. Kathleen's friend Biddy also has a tough life, like many Irish immigrants, but she's cheerful, optimistic and her friendship with Kathleen is special. Their banter is funny. I also really like Nate's sister Laura who is like a younger, happier, enthusiastic Annie. The Misses Moffett annoy me. I like the silent one, Millie, better than the gossippy one Minnie. While I feel sorry for them that their brother was a scoundrel, I feel less sorry for them coming from the South and being a slaveholding family. Miss Minnie's attitude is more enlightened that I would expect for an elderly woman. Is this realistic? It takes a long time to overcome the prejudices and beliefs one was taught. In this novel, Miss Minnie's feelings are shaped by broken promises more than any feeling of right or wrong. Kathleen's boyfriend Patrick annoyed me in parts too. He has yet to learn to read Kathleen's thoughts and understand a woman needs her independence. He'll learn. I think he's a nice young man and eager to rise through the ranks. He's doing his family proud. New characters actually relevant to the plot of the novel are numerous and I had a hard time remembering who was who. Mr. Robert Livingston, Sr. is a kindly, older man who has worked hard his whole life. He's responsible for the store and continues to work hard to make it a success. Mr. Livingston is a little too kindly though. While he doesn't see eye to eye with his son, Robbie, on how the store should be run, he is reluctant to suspect his son may be a shady character. Robbie sounds like a typical spoiled rich boy wanting to get even richer without working for his money. Annie suspects he may be behind some of the bad things happening in the store. I completely agree! Mr. Jenkins, manager of the notions department, is another nice man. He's willing to deal with Annie and give her anything she wants to help solve the mystery. Mr. Villeneuve, a Frenchman, is a partner in the store. I'm not sure what to make of him. He seems nice enough but something about him makes me not want to trust him too much. Madame Villeneuve is awful! She's a battle axe with crazy high standards for her milliners. She's not kind or pleasant to deal with. Mr. Livingston's longtime employees are like family to him. Mr. Gower, who manages the home furnishings warehouse, keeps complaining about shipments disappearing. He's kind of tough and crochety. Is he telling the truth or is he covering up for something? The other option is he's just feuding with someone he doesn't get along with. Mr. Gower is old school like Mr. Livingston. They came from the work hard to get ahead school so I don't think he's outright lying but perhaps it's time he retire before he loses his mind. Annie likes him and she has good instincts. Miss Birdsoll, Livingston's assistant is my favorite of the new characters. She's very modern and married to her career. She doesn't seem to regret it one bit. She's more hard boiled than Annie and very no-nonsense but she does have a softer side when it comes to the child, Emmaline. Marie Fournier's story broke my heart. She was trying so hard to do the right thing for her daughter, to give her daughter a better future. She may have been involved in the thefts somehow, but I think it was from the purest motive- to provide her daughter with a top notch education and give the girl a better life. Marie certainly did not have a good life and I wasn't entirely surprised by the reveal. Marie was good to Miss Spencer, her renter and dressmaker. Miss Spencer is just trying to get ahead and live a better life too. I don't see her as the murderer. Miss Spencer doesn't have a good motive unless she has Marie's will that shows who will inherit the shop. Mrs. Fournier didn't deserve to die even if she was a thief. Emmaline is a good child. She's quiet and studious and I think she either saw something or had a good idea of who killed her mother. The poor girl seems to have PTSD from finding her mother's body and is missing her mother terribly. She seems sweet and lovely and I hope she has a happy life ahead of her. Another potential villain is Philip D. I'm a good judge of character and I quite like him and how he was able to rise above his circumstances so I don't believe he's a murderer. I don't think he'd be that incredibly stupid and risk his job and life to commit murder, even if he was in a jealous rage. After Annie realizes his identity I think she knows this. She knows the risks involved for Philip and Nate does as well. The whole mess is just so very, very sad and I applaud the author for illuminating some of the problems of the 19th-century the repercussions of which we are still working on today. I sort of feel sorry for one of the story's villains. That character is young, not well educated and naïve. I think they got duped into something they didn't realize they were doing or didn't see as wrong. It was an interesting but oh so super obvious crime! In this cozy series, the San Francisco PD is not only efficient and excellent at their jobs but also seeks out amateur help when needs be. Sergeant Thompson is a fair-minded man and recognizes the potential in Patrick. This is a nice change from the corruption and scandal in New York during the Gilded Age. I'm eager to read the in-between novellas and the next two mysteries now! This series has vastly improved. content Annie and Nate are a happily married couple but don't get much private time in their boarding house ; the reader can infer Annie and Nate are having happy sex when they can but being the Victorian era, nothing but kissing appears on the page. One mention of Annie quickly buttoning her bodice where Nate's hands had just been moments before TRIGGER WARNINGS: There are lots spousal abuse sibling abuse nasty divorce false promises of marriage belief that women should marry and have babies to take up their time while a job is just something to fill time before babies are born. slavery and all that entails -- up to 1880 (view spoiler)[ rape of female slaves, forced sexual relationship, passing for white, mentions of the one drop rule, segregation (hide spoiler)] desperation of a narcissist (view spoiler)[desperation to have a child at any cost, including murder (hide spoiler)]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    A fun continuation of the story of Annie and her boarders. What I like most of this series is that it's character driven. In each installment we get to know Annie, her boarders and Nate more. We learn about their likes, dislikes, insecurities, hopes and daily lives in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. The characters are warm and interesting. The mysteries are light and interesting. They quietly get solved as our characters go through their days. This setting of Thanksgiving and Christmas emphasi A fun continuation of the story of Annie and her boarders. What I like most of this series is that it's character driven. In each installment we get to know Annie, her boarders and Nate more. We learn about their likes, dislikes, insecurities, hopes and daily lives in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. The characters are warm and interesting. The mysteries are light and interesting. They quietly get solved as our characters go through their days. This setting of Thanksgiving and Christmas emphasize family & friends. I enjoyed reading this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I like the characters in this series, but this fifth book just wasn't up to snuff. The plot was weak, in my opinion, and although the narration by Alexandra Haag was satisfactory, it just didn't capture me. I think I will stick to reading these instead of listening. I like the characters in this series, but this fifth book just wasn't up to snuff. The plot was weak, in my opinion, and although the narration by Alexandra Haag was satisfactory, it just didn't capture me. I think I will stick to reading these instead of listening.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Linda Sharp

    Entertaining Not bad not good. I liked the characters in the boarding house but the plot was a no brainer. Not heavy reading but fun.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Annie Dawson is asked to help investigate what appears to be a shoplifting ring in a fancy San Francisco department store. It's the Christmas shopping season, so of course the store is very busy indeed. During her investigation, she learns that various goods seem to be disappearing from the warehouse and starts looking into that as well. One of the women who is instrumental in the investigation, Marie Fournier, is murdered ... and pretty soon Annie is up to her neck in that investigation as well Annie Dawson is asked to help investigate what appears to be a shoplifting ring in a fancy San Francisco department store. It's the Christmas shopping season, so of course the store is very busy indeed. During her investigation, she learns that various goods seem to be disappearing from the warehouse and starts looking into that as well. One of the women who is instrumental in the investigation, Marie Fournier, is murdered ... and pretty soon Annie is up to her neck in that investigation as well. And what will become of the Widow Fournier's daughter, Emmaline? One of the most charming aspects of this series is Annie's household of boarders and servants ... all of whom adore her, because she knows what it's like to be financially destitute and is a genuinely kind person. Throw in her attorney husband, Nate Dawson's, social justice concerns (in this book he's helping an abused woman obtain a divorce in a time when wife-beating was seen as relatively normal), and you have a fabulous ensemble. The mysteries are all fair-play puzzles; the clues are there for the reader to put together. One of the sub-plots was pretty easy to figure out, but others were not. If you enjoy historical mysteries, these books should be right up your alley.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    DNF For this book it said that you might not need to know the other books to read this. I felt like I couldn't get into it and found it slow. I don't know if it is because I was unfamiliar with the characters and their personalities or the book was just not up to my par. Regardless I'm sure it would be a good mystery and I was interested. I'm hoping to one day come back to this and hopefully then, i'll enjoy it. DNF For this book it said that you might not need to know the other books to read this. I felt like I couldn't get into it and found it slow. I don't know if it is because I was unfamiliar with the characters and their personalities or the book was just not up to my par. Regardless I'm sure it would be a good mystery and I was interested. I'm hoping to one day come back to this and hopefully then, i'll enjoy it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Davis

    Love this series! And I think they get better with each book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nola Arganbright

    Very authentic Another excellent book to the Victorian San Francisco series. The characters are excellent. This book have a a good view of the times and a surprising finish!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I felt a little overwhelmed with all the characters. There was so much focus on the main characters and all their friends and relations that I had a really difficult time keeping track of the people actually involved in the mystery. The side characters had so much to do that it almost seemed like the mystery was a subplot. But two things in particular were what pulled me out of the story time and again. First, Annie is a married woman now, so it stands to reason that she should be getting pregnan I felt a little overwhelmed with all the characters. There was so much focus on the main characters and all their friends and relations that I had a really difficult time keeping track of the people actually involved in the mystery. The side characters had so much to do that it almost seemed like the mystery was a subplot. But two things in particular were what pulled me out of the story time and again. First, Annie is a married woman now, so it stands to reason that she should be getting pregnant. This is a huge subplot. While I appreciated Annie's ambivalence about wanting to get pregnant so quickly after marriage, it became pretty obvious halfway through the story whether she was or wasn't. By the time the truth was revealed, it was anti-climatic because I'd already figured it out. Second, I feel strongly that readers in mystery novels should be with the sleuth every step of the way in the mystery, discovering things as the sleuth does, getting to see things firsthand, as the sleuth does. There are many scenes in the book in which the reader learns information secondhand. There is literally too much telling and not enough showing. I think this goes back to the problem of "too many characters." I like Annie, I think she's a great sleuth. But there are so many scenes featuring other characters that her sleuthing is often reduced to reporting it to Nate when he comes home at night. In the past couple books, the focus seems to have moved away from solely being on Annie, and the less Annie in the book, the less I like it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    PeterK B

    Nearly a four star average rating?? Wow. I have read Books 1 to 5 so far, and each one is worse than the previous one. (When the price was a bargain, I did buy another one of this series, but never again.) There is far too much time spent on Annie's personal life and subplots, such as a rich lady apparently shoplifting. Also, the author has spent a lot of time researching departments stores of the era and we get an endless tour of the store and its operations in this novel. The plot is weak for Nearly a four star average rating?? Wow. I have read Books 1 to 5 so far, and each one is worse than the previous one. (When the price was a bargain, I did buy another one of this series, but never again.) There is far too much time spent on Annie's personal life and subplots, such as a rich lady apparently shoplifting. Also, the author has spent a lot of time researching departments stores of the era and we get an endless tour of the store and its operations in this novel. The plot is weak for much of the book: apparent theft from the store, probably by an employee. Finally, there is a death and the subsequent investigation; that does make for a more interesting plot. I have read numerous historical fiction/mystery books and I would say this San Francisco series is the weakest, and Book 5 is the worst of the first five. See Best historical-fiction mysteries: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1.... That page is very useful for anyone who really appreciates this genre. My favourite authors are C.J. Sansom, Charles Finch, David Liss and Ann Perry. Any book by these authors is a fine example of what historical fiction/mystery books should be like.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Norma Huss

    M. Louisa Locke is one of my favorite authors. This mystery, set in historic San Francisco, centers around a new, large department store, the clerks, the fashion designers, and the seamstresses who sew the clothing sold in the store. The murder was a poser. I was quite at a loss for who the killer might be, although I did finally have a bit of suspicion (but that's okay). Lots of nice period ambiance, a bit of romance, some personal problems, action, and suspense. And engrossing read, and I high M. Louisa Locke is one of my favorite authors. This mystery, set in historic San Francisco, centers around a new, large department store, the clerks, the fashion designers, and the seamstresses who sew the clothing sold in the store. The murder was a poser. I was quite at a loss for who the killer might be, although I did finally have a bit of suspicion (but that's okay). Lots of nice period ambiance, a bit of romance, some personal problems, action, and suspense. And engrossing read, and I highly recommend it for readers who like to follow characters in a series, and for those who like accurate history, and, of course, for anyone who doesn't mind staying up late to read just one more chapter (repeat as necessary).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Kristick

    This is one of my favorites of this series - theft, intrigue and death at a fascinating department store. The characters were great, and as always, the author has a deft hand at weaving the history into the story and setting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Heatherinblack

    Pleasant read The murderer seems obvious to me. The twisted family relations were too convenient. it it is still a great set of characters and relationships.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Picksy

    A good story and lovely characters. Interesting social history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Madelon

    As Annie's story continues, and her strength in her convictions increases, the books are taking a somewhat darker turn. It is a clever, if subliminal, way of getting the point across that women are, first and foremost, living, breathing and capable human beings. The age old idea that women need to be protected from the world is just wrong. Although presented as cozy mysteries of the Victorian era, what truly recommends this series are its presentation of history, and its feminist leaning. The hi As Annie's story continues, and her strength in her convictions increases, the books are taking a somewhat darker turn. It is a clever, if subliminal, way of getting the point across that women are, first and foremost, living, breathing and capable human beings. The age old idea that women need to be protected from the world is just wrong. Although presented as cozy mysteries of the Victorian era, what truly recommends this series are its presentation of history, and its feminist leaning. The history in each novel is backed up with squibs of actual newspaper accounts, at the beginning of each chapter, that substantiate the fictional account. The feminist side shows that women, in the late 1800s, in America, were starting to assert their independence. It also does not discount the way in which men responded. There is Nate Dawson who learns to curb his tongue when trying to make his point that he wants to protect Annie. Then there are men who think of women as their chattel. On the surface, these may seem like sweet little mysteries, but the underlying message is what provides the backbone. One last thing I realized while reading the series is that the titles of the novels and short works really do sum up the stories in their clever play on words. Again, I will urge that you start reading the Victorian San Francisco mysteries from the beginning. I say this because it is the backstory that will make you come back for more. In any mystery series, the actual mystery is often secondary to the importance of learning what happens next in the lives of the characters. Dr. Locke's characters are very human and quite varied. It is through these well-developed individuals that the history comes alive.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Dinwiddie

    Victorian San Francisco + history + mystery = win! M. Louisa Locke brings her background as a scholar of women’s history to bear in her novels, which is what I love about them. Not only do I fall in love with fully dimensional characters, but I get a sense of what it was like to live in San Francisco in the 1880s (hint: being a woman was a helluva lot harder than it is now! Case in point: women had to petition a judge for a divorce, and you were NOT guaranteed to win, and if you had kids, you wer Victorian San Francisco + history + mystery = win! M. Louisa Locke brings her background as a scholar of women’s history to bear in her novels, which is what I love about them. Not only do I fall in love with fully dimensional characters, but I get a sense of what it was like to live in San Francisco in the 1880s (hint: being a woman was a helluva lot harder than it is now! Case in point: women had to petition a judge for a divorce, and you were NOT guaranteed to win, and if you had kids, you were unlikely to win custody. Yep, too bad for you! And that’s not even touching race; remember, the Civil War was not that long ago, and interracial relationships were illegal!) All of this history, along with the technology of the day (outhouses are still prevalent; telephones are rare; wood stoves are common; foot pedal sewing machines are all the rage) forms a backdrop for a layered tale with interwoven plots — a department store experiencing mysterious losses; a wife suing for divorce; a murder — each of which pull our heroes, Annie and Nate Dawson in to assist. The cast of characters circling out from Annie and Nate — mostly boarders and staff at Annie’s boarding house —is a big part of the book’s charm. We get to see their inner desires and fears, and several of them play a role in solving the various mysteries. Realistic dialogue, well-crafted prose, and overall delightful. Recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn Grabas

    It was pleasant to see how this series progresses. It is even better than before, now that the subterfuge has ceased, Nate and Annie are married and the little grey cells can function freely with a little intrigue, romance, family camaraderie, love, caring and, of course, the main mystery thrown in. I loved the procedures, both police and private, that were followed in discovering, catching and dispensing with the shoplifting and thievery of store stock. I learned a lot as to how different thing It was pleasant to see how this series progresses. It is even better than before, now that the subterfuge has ceased, Nate and Annie are married and the little grey cells can function freely with a little intrigue, romance, family camaraderie, love, caring and, of course, the main mystery thrown in. I loved the procedures, both police and private, that were followed in discovering, catching and dispensing with the shoplifting and thievery of store stock. I learned a lot as to how different things were back then and now. One thing that rather bothered me was that no clear solution was offered as to what the future held for Mr. Livingston's son. It appeared in all of this that only the criminal masterminds would be paying for their actions, while all of their accomplices went scott free. Unfortunately, no one learns a lesson that way and, perhaps, it tends tolead to a little cockiness as to being able to do things and getting away with them, so long as you know or are related to someone. But the biggest thing I have to thank Ms. Locke for was the ability to read and enjoy her books without having to put up with left-out words, misspelling, poor grammar and character interchanging. Now here is someone who actually takes pride in her work. Thank you Ms. Locke for a most enjoyable read. I look forward to more of your books.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Randy Overbeck

    A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS MYSTERY Pilfered Promises: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery by M. Louisa Locke delivers pretty much what it promises in the title. Readers come away from the reading with a vivid sense of the Christmas shopping season of 1880 on the West coast. It is one of more than dozen works in this series but was the first I encountered. Kudos to the author, in that I had little trouble “jumping in” with the characters and setting, having not read the earlier works—though a time or tw A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS MYSTERY Pilfered Promises: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery by M. Louisa Locke delivers pretty much what it promises in the title. Readers come away from the reading with a vivid sense of the Christmas shopping season of 1880 on the West coast. It is one of more than dozen works in this series but was the first I encountered. Kudos to the author, in that I had little trouble “jumping in” with the characters and setting, having not read the earlier works—though a time or two, I found it unclear to sort out whose POV the author had switched to. The story takes place in one of the first large department stores of the time—fictional, of course. Locke emerges the reader in this world, giving us a real sense of what these places looked and felt like, especially at Christmas. Our crime solving duo, husband and wife, Nate and Annie, are brought in by the owner of this SF department store to uncover how goods and money are going missing. The pilfering leads of course to murder and the pair end up assisting the police to solve the crime—and save a young girl in the process. I’d count this as a pleasant encounter and enjoyed my trip to a time and place we only see in old movies.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Younger

    Fashion, business, and Victorian culture—both high and low What isn’t there to love about this book? The setting of the murder mystery is a large luxury department store in 1880 San Francisco. Filled with fashion, business, and cultural mores of the day, it gives the author a lot to play with and the reader a richly drawn peek behind the scenes of Victorian life, both high and low. Annie is once again the central character in solving a business scandal and murder. Nate defends an oppressed wife an Fashion, business, and Victorian culture—both high and low What isn’t there to love about this book? The setting of the murder mystery is a large luxury department store in 1880 San Francisco. Filled with fashion, business, and cultural mores of the day, it gives the author a lot to play with and the reader a richly drawn peek behind the scenes of Victorian life, both high and low. Annie is once again the central character in solving a business scandal and murder. Nate defends an oppressed wife and mother in a dirty divorce trial. The ensemble players at the Boarding House all play their part in helping to solve the mystery. Plus, this book gives insights to more background history of the Misses Moffet and the after-effects of the great Civil War. Add in the author’s ability to create vivid descriptions for even the most secondary of characters, you feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time. I was already a fan of Ms Locke’s writing. Now, she’s become my go-to author for when I want some light reading that keeps me engaged on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    In this story, Annie is called upon to discover why the Silver Strike department store is having such losses. Annie goes to check it out and is overwhelmed by how much seems to be going wrong. She meets all of the staff including a little girl named Emmaline, and to me, she seemed like the real mystery. Well, I wasn't completely wrong. Very soon into the story, Emmaline's mother is murdered and Annie and Nate have to decide if the murder had anything to do with the robberies or if they just happene In this story, Annie is called upon to discover why the Silver Strike department store is having such losses. Annie goes to check it out and is overwhelmed by how much seems to be going wrong. She meets all of the staff including a little girl named Emmaline, and to me, she seemed like the real mystery. Well, I wasn't completely wrong. Very soon into the story, Emmaline's mother is murdered and Annie and Nate have to decide if the murder had anything to do with the robberies or if they just happened at the same time. There is a lot of moving pieces in this story. It is really good and kept me on my toes. I managed to guess correctly about some of the story before it was told. I'm pretty proud of myself. The biggest surprise I totally didn't see coming and I felt like I should have. I think it was just woven in so masterfully. I was busy trying to figure out who was the murderer and who was robbing the Silver Strike, I just didn't stop to see the underlying story. It's so obvious looking back that I should have seen it coming.It was a lovely ribbon to tie the story together.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 2.5* A bit too much information about department store operations led to a slow-ish start and middle. (Though I didn't mind the amount of historical detail in the previous book, and I can't honestly say this one has more, so YMMV.) My main issue though is that I'm not 100% comfortable with how the plotline about Marie and Emmaline having Black heritage was handled. Annie's and Nate's POV that the child's background being revealed would effectively ruin her life seems plausible for the time, but I 2.5* A bit too much information about department store operations led to a slow-ish start and middle. (Though I didn't mind the amount of historical detail in the previous book, and I can't honestly say this one has more, so YMMV.) My main issue though is that I'm not 100% comfortable with how the plotline about Marie and Emmaline having Black heritage was handled. Annie's and Nate's POV that the child's background being revealed would effectively ruin her life seems plausible for the time, but I question that Phillip wouldn't have had a different or a more nuanced take, it also gives the whole situation a whiff of White Saviorism. And while the rape of Marie's mother is acknowledged, Marie's own rape is made less explicit, as she is coerced into being a mistress for some number of years. And finally, oh, the Misses Moffat. This has been lurking for awhile. There has been a general abdication of acknowledging their complicity in slavery, even as women, they still held power in their whiteness. Property by Valerie Martin handles this much more deftly. I know this is just a cozy mystery, but if this plotline was going to used, I would expect a bit more care to be taken.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Bidstrup

    This is the fifth Victorian mystery set in San Francisco by M. Louisa Locke. I love her books! The protagonist is Annie, owner of a boarding house, and now married to her love, Nate Dawson, an attorney. This novel starts just before Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve - a perfect read for this hot summer. Annie and her very interesting boarders and servants are preparing for the holidays, when her sister-in-law's mother is arrested for shoplifting at the new Silver Strike department store. An This is the fifth Victorian mystery set in San Francisco by M. Louisa Locke. I love her books! The protagonist is Annie, owner of a boarding house, and now married to her love, Nate Dawson, an attorney. This novel starts just before Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve - a perfect read for this hot summer. Annie and her very interesting boarders and servants are preparing for the holidays, when her sister-in-law's mother is arrested for shoplifting at the new Silver Strike department store. Annie accompanies her husband to the store, one of the first three department stores in San Francisco, and Nate agrees to take the case. While there Annie, an astute accountant and business woman, is hired to look into some irregularities in the bookkeeping of the store. Not long after she begins this endeavor, the fashion designer is murdered leaving her daughter an orphan. Annie begins investigating this. While I was able to guess the person 'fudging' the deliveries and books, I certainly could not begin to figure out the murderer and the designers secrets.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    This is the fifth book in the series and finds Annie and Nate drawn in to help investigate thefts at the Silver Strike Bazaar, with Annie going over the books and Nate to protect them from a legal standpoint. But, not unexpectedly, things get progressively complicated as it turns out that there is more to the thefts than first, something that turns deadly. At the same time, Annie and Nate are settling in to married life and building up to their first Christmas together at the boarding house, whi This is the fifth book in the series and finds Annie and Nate drawn in to help investigate thefts at the Silver Strike Bazaar, with Annie going over the books and Nate to protect them from a legal standpoint. But, not unexpectedly, things get progressively complicated as it turns out that there is more to the thefts than first, something that turns deadly. At the same time, Annie and Nate are settling in to married life and building up to their first Christmas together at the boarding house, which does make for some pleasant diversions and sidebars to the main story, although I did occasionally find that Annie lost some of her previous strength and independence but then it is set in the 1880s! On the up side, Kathleen is really coming into her own and I love how well she knows what she wants and has no problem making it very clear and standing by it (a woman after my own heart).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    San Francisco 1890 Annie and Nate Dawson are an interesting couple. She's more progressive, a champion of women's education and the right of women (even married ones) to work outside the home, and she owns a boarding house. Nate, a lawyer, is a bit old fashion and struggles to understand his wife's attitudes. Nate's younger sister lives in the boarding house and is studying at the University of California. The couple, with help from the police and several residents of the boarding house, are deter San Francisco 1890 Annie and Nate Dawson are an interesting couple. She's more progressive, a champion of women's education and the right of women (even married ones) to work outside the home, and she owns a boarding house. Nate, a lawyer, is a bit old fashion and struggles to understand his wife's attitudes. Nate's younger sister lives in the boarding house and is studying at the University of California. The couple, with help from the police and several residents of the boarding house, are determined to solve the mystery of the murder of the designer of women's apparel and the theft of merchandise at the Silver Strike Bazaar. And, they're getting ready for Christmas Charming read. No sex No violence

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