By Caroline Clemmons
Don’t you love reading a good series? Certainly I do, and that’s what I’ve been doing. A couple of months ago, I started Victoria Thompson’s latest series, A Counterfeit Lady, by reading the first in the series, CITY OF LIES. I fell in love with the characters. So much that I’ve just finished the fifth book in the series, CITY OF SHADOWS. The series is set in 1918 New York.
I highly recommend this series! I'd read many of the author's Gaslight series and loved her writing. The heroine of the Counterfeit Lady series is Elizabeth Miles, daughter of a superb con man. In fact, all her family and friends are con artists. Not the pickpocket, cheap scam type. They target the greedy with ill-gotten wealth, for whom there is never enough money. Elizabeth’s father, who is the head of the group, never intended for her to become involved. Instead, he intended her to be a lady, as was her mother. Her fellow cons call her “Countess” because of her regal bearing and perfect manners.
In CITY OF LIES, book one, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles in life, as do most women. Unlike most,
She never expects to like or
In book two, CITY OF SECRETS, Elizabeth Miles knows that honesty isn’t always the best policy when it comes to finding justice. She’s discovered that navigating the rules of high society is the biggest con of all. She knows she can play the game, but so far, her only success is Priscilla Knight, a dedicated young suffragist recently widowed for the second time. Priscilla stands to lost everything and Elizabeth is determined not to let that happen. As always, Elizabeth walks a fine line between using her unusual talents and revealing her own scandalous past. Elizabeth soon discovers Priscilla’s husband’s death was anything but accidental and that revealing the truth could threaten much more than Priscilla’s finances. To save her new friend’s future—and possibly her own—Elizabeth, along with her honest-to-a-fault beau Gideon delve into the sinister secrets someone would kill to keep.
In book three, CITY OF SCOUNDRELS, Elizabeth Miles finds herself in a position no con can help her escape. Her beloved fiancé, Gideon Bates, is awaiting his turn in the draft to fight in the Great War. Elizabeth is finding it hard to think of anything else, but Gideon has thrown himself into his work, preparing wills for soldiers before they ship out. Corporal Tom Preston is part owner of Preston Shoes, a company that is making footwear for the army, so he has a rather large estate. He needs a new will, however, because he has just been secretly married to a woman whom his family would never approve. He wants to make sure she and their unborn child are provided for if he does not return.
When Tom is later reported killed, Elizabeth and Gideon learn that the new will has gone missing after Tom's bride revealed her identity to his family. Unless the new will is found and validated, the original will, which leaves everything to Tom's brother, will prevail and the wife and child will get nothing. If Tom's new bride survives, that is. Some terrible threats have been leveled against her, and Elizabeth and Gideon must figure out a way, legal or not quite, to secure Tom's fortune for his wife and child while saving her life in the process.
In book four, CITY OF SCHEMES, Elizabeth Miles is preparing for her wedding to Gideon Bates, when a menacing shadow from her past threatens to destroy the life she has built for herself in this all-new Counterfeit Lady Novel from
In book five, CITY OF SHADOWS, Elizabeth Miles Bates has returned from her honeymoon with Gideon and is taking great pride in having completely forsaken her disreputable past. Then her friend Anna Vanderslice begs her to use her talents to save her widowed mother from an unscrupulous medium. Since the war and the flu epidemic left so many families in mourning, séances have come back into vogue as desperate families long to communicate with their loved ones.
Anna's mother has been attending séances in hopes of connecting with her son, David, who died of influenza. Anna had thought it a heartbreaking but harmless activity, but she's just learned that Mrs. Vanderslice is paying the medium ever-increasing sums of money in her eagerness to make contact. Since David's death has already caused Anna and her mother financial hardship, Mrs. Vanderslice's obsession is in danger of ruining them.
Madame Ophelia is working with a group of con artists to fleece as many grieving New Yorkers as possible before moving on to another city. Several of Mrs. Vanderslice's friends, as well as some of Gideon's clients, have already been victims. Elizabeth knows that simply exposing the medium as a fraud will not be enough to recoup the stolen money; the only way is to con the medium and her cohorts. But will Elizabeth's family help her when it means betraying other con artists? Elizabeth recruits Gideon, her aunt Cybil, and her partner, Zelda, to lend a hand. Can Elizabeth and her gang of amateurs fool the professionals? Or will speaking to the dead lead to deadly consequences?
Each book is a complete story, but they will be much more enjoyable if you begin with the first one. I can practically guarantee you’ll race through the series as I have.
Please keep in mind that next Friday, February 25, is the release of my latest book and first in a series, DEATH IN THE PERFECT HOUSE, a Zoe Wilder Cozy Mystery. It’s available for preorder now at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09RY7G2NW
Stay safe and keep reading!