I look forward to each addition to Swinfen's Oxford mysteries series, and this installment did not disappoint. Occurring just weeks after The Huntsman's Tale
, the story of lovable Nicholas Elyot carries on seamlessly. Now we find ourselves returned to Oxford in time for the St Frideswide's Fair, where some people have nefarious deeds in mind.
Nicholas is emboldened enough to begin pressing his suit with the lovely Emma and I felt the squeeze of my heart just as I would if two people I personally knew were finally discovering that they were perfect for one another. Mild mannered Nicholas proved that he can be a charming romantic at times, such as when convincing Emma that he would walk her home. 'There is no need, Nicholas. I shall be quite safe with the others.' 'You will be even safer with me.'
Be still my heart.
I am also enjoying the development of other characters and relationships. For example, it is fun watching Nicholas' daughter Alysoun become a young woman. 'Alysoun looked pleased and slightly smug, finding herself part of Margaret's armed forces against the incompetent world of men.'
If it takes Nicholas and his comrades ridiculously long to determine just who could be the target of a mysterious murderer using the fair as his cover, this can be forgiven because the reader is treated to more exquisite views of daily life in 14th century Oxford. The challenges of gathering fruit and preparing food, the excitement and dangers of the fair, the struggles of a business owner falling under the rules of the Church, and much more make this novel a joy to read for the way it truly transports the reader back in time.
This is a series that is put at the top of my TBR as soon as a new book is released. I wonder when book 5 will be arriving, because I don't believe for a moment that Nicholas is 'once again a humble Oxford bookseller and glad to be done with high drama.'
I have a feeling that mysterious events will find you again, dear Nicholas.