I recently listened to Elizabeth Peters’ first Amelia Peabody book Crocodile on the Sandbank for an audiobooks review here at AAR. I was reminded of one of my early posts at the original After Hours site, in which I talked about my favorite couples in mysteries. Some of the authors I originally discussed have stopped writing their series (Nancy Pickard’s Jenny Cain mysteries and Gillian Roberts’ Amanda Pepper mysteries, for example). And as much as I love Elizabeth Peters, her last Amelia Peabody, A River in the Sky, was not one of my favorite reads. A few of the other series I discussed (Carolyn Hart’s Annie Darling mysteries and Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schulz mysteries) are now just hit-or-miss for me.

However, over the past few years I’ve discovered a number of other mystery series that show promise. While the romance threads vary in intensity and emphasis across the series, I still find them all enjoyable.

Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series. I gave DIK status to And Only to Deceive, the first entry in this Victorian era series. When the series begins, Emily is a recent widow, and comes to learn more about, and fall in love with, her husband by reading his letters. Emily also meets the man who will eventually become her second husband in this book. The books have a variety of settings, including Paris, the south of France, Vienna, Constantinople, and Santorini. Emily is an intelligent heroine who studies the classics. She’s also gradually become involved with her new husbands’ investigations. I like the relationship that has developed between the two, and can recommend the series to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. I think the series will particularly appeal to fans of Deanna Raybourne’s Lady Julia series. The sixth book in the series, A Crimson Warning, comes out in late October.

Deborah Crombie’s Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid series. I have a rather strange history with this series set in contemporary London. I read one of the very early books in the series, liked it, and then forgot about it. Last month my book group read Necessary as Blood, the 13th and most recent in the series. I was reminded of how very much I like the characters in the series. Gemma and Duncan have come a long way since the first book I read. They’ve cobbled together a family and are engaged when the book begins. A few people in my book group had read all of the series entries and said that the relationship develops slowly over the course of the series. The murders in this entry are quite dark but Gemma and Duncan’s relationship was in the forefront. I liked where the characters are so much in this one that I probably will not go back and read the previous entries. Everyone in my book group agreed that the latest entry works very well as a standalone.

Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series. This series is set in 1930s England, and features Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, or Lady Georgie as she’s more frequently called. Georgie is 34th in line to the English throne, but is flat broke. Her brother, a Duke in Scotland, has cut off her allowance. Rather than live in the castle in Scotland, Georgie escapes to the family’s home in London, and scrapes by doing various odd jobs. The first three books took place primarily in London, but in the fourth book, Georgie ended up attended a wedding in Bavaria. Georgie’s a favorite of the Queen, who alternately tries to marry her off and send her on various missions. Georgie has a slowly developing relationship with the mysterious Darcy O’Mara. Is he just a penniless Irishman, a thief, or a spy? I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Georgie and Darcy’s relationship, but I intend to pick up the fifth book in the series, Naughty in Nice, when it comes out in early September.

Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy series. I’ve recently started reading this series, set in 1901 New York. In the first book, Murphy’s Law, Molly Murphy accidentally kills a wealthy Irish landowner and escapes before anyone discovers the act. She first ends up in England, and then quickly is on her way to New York City. Molly gets as far as Ellis Island where she becomes embroiled in another mystery and meets Captain Daniel Sullivan of the NYPD. I recently attended a signing for the 10th book in the series, Bless the Bride, so know that Molly and Daniel’s relationship goes a long way after the first book. I look forward to reading more books in the series.

Erin Hart’s Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire mysteries. My book group recently read the third in this series, False Mermaid, featuring American pathologist Nora Gavin and Irish archeologist Cormac Maguire. While the first two books are set in Ireland, the third is set partly in both Minnesota (Nora’s original home) and Ireland. These are contemporary mysteries with a strong historical influence. While Nora and Cormac are physically apart for much of the third book, there’s still a sense of their relationship, particularly toward the end of the book.

Do you read any mystery series? If so, have you encountered any new – or new to you – series with a strong romantic element?

– LinnieGayl Kimmel