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Rivals in the City by YS LeeRIVALS IN THE CITY by Y.S. Lee Book Review
Series: The Agency, #4
Publication Date: March 10th 2015 by Candlewick Press
Rating:  – Acceptable

Book Summary: In a tale steeped in action, romance, and the gaslit intrigue of Victorian London, Mary Quinn’s detective skills are pitted against a cunning and desperate opponent.

Mary Quinn has a lot on her mind. James Easton, her longtime love interest, wants to marry her; but despite her feelings, independent-minded Mary hesitates. Meanwhile, the Agency has asked Mary to take on a dangerous case: convicted fraudster Henry Thorold is dying in prison, and Mary must watch for the return of his estranged wife, an accomplished criminal herself who has a potentially deadly grudge against James. Finally, a Chinese prizefighter has arrived in town, and Mary can’t shake a feeling that he is somehow familiar. With the stakes higher than ever, can Mary balance family secrets, conflicting loyalties, and professional expertise to bring a criminal to justice and find her own happiness?

Book Review Overview:

  • I like how the series comes to a full circle and revisits the Thorold family
  • Not a lot of Mary and James in this book
  • Least favorite book in the series

After years of waiting, I finally had a chance to read Rivals in the City, the last book the the Agency series by Y.S. Lee. The Agency series is one of my favorites; I love the combination of history, romance, and mystery.

I really enjoyed how the series came to a full circle in this final installment. When Mr. Thorold falls deathly ill in jail, Miss Treleaven solicits Mary one last time to track down Mrs. Thorold. Mrs. Thorold has been living abroad for the past few years to evade authorities for the crimes linked to her husband’s cargo ships. Because Mrs. Thorold is a master at deception, Mary is the person most likely to track her down and uncover her plans.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , | Words 475 words

You are here: Home » Author: YS Lee

Series: The Agency, #3
Publication Date: February 28th 2012 by Candlewick Press
Rating: |

Book Summary: Get steeped in suspense, romance, and high Victorian intrigue as Mary goes undercover at Buckingham Palace – and learns a startling secret at the Tower of London.

Queen Victoria has a little problem: there’s a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary’s onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary’s most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn’t be higher – and she has everything to lose.

Book Review Overview:

  • A mystery that will keep you guessing at the edge of your seat
  • Mary/James chemistry is as great as ever
  • Fantastic third installment in the Agency series; I want more

Disclaimer: You probably don’t want to read this review of THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee if you have not read the two previous books. I highly recommend them.

Mary Quinn is back undercover – this time as a parlor maid in the Buckingham Palace – investigating a string of petty thefts. Y.S. Lee is a fantastic mystery writer that will leave you at the edge of your seat. She will keep you guessing, only to leave your jaw hanging wide open at the climax of the novel. THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee has an ending you’ll never see coming.

One of the reasons that I love the Agency series by YS Lee is the fact that Mary is half Chinese. It’s rare that you ever see that in a Victorian novel, but Lee makes it work. There’s so much depth to Mary because of her backstory. Not only is she half-Chinese, but she’s also an orphan and a criminal. Mary has so many things going against her that you can’t help but cheer for her character. She continues to be a headstrong character in THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee. I love that we are finally given more insight to her Chinese ancestry and questions about her background are finally answered. (Yep, no spoilers – that’s all your getting from me.)

Okay, I admit that I had to slow myself down at times. I mentally chastised myself for reading way too quickly just so I can get to the next Mary/James encounter. But then again, who can blame me? One of the reasons why I love this series is for the fantastic sexual tension between Mary and James. THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee is no exception. Lots of banter, teasing, and romantic moments that will be sure to please fans. James and Mary continue to be one of my favorite couples in YA.

Like any historical novel that I read, I did question the historical accuracy of some parts of THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL by YS Lee. It’s only right that I do. But whatever questions that popped up in my head were soon squashed, once I remembered Lee’s background. She has a PhD in Victorian literature and culture! I love that I can put my trust in an author’s writing to be historically accurate.

Fans of the Agency series by YS Lee will be satisfied with the third installment without a doubt. And of course, I definitely did my fan girl dance when I found out that there is a fourth book in the works.

Why I’m Biased: I’m in love with this series. Y.S. Lee can do no wrong.

Other Book Reviews:
Baggins’s Book Blabber

About the Author

Y. S. Lee was born in Singapore but brought up in Canada. She also lived briefly in the United Kingdom. An academic with a PhD in Victorian literature and culture, she wrote MASCULINITY AND THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS IN VICTORIAN AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND FICTION. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , , , , , | Words 1130 words

You are here: Home » Author: YS Lee

Behind the Book is an exclusive feature at Muggle-Born that gives readers an inside look into the editorial process of some of our favorite books. Plot changes, lost characters, and many more interesting topics are tackled in an interview with the author.

The Traitor in the Tunnel (The Agency, #3) by YS Lee

Did You Know?

  • The Traitor in the Tunnel was written quicker than the two previous novels
  • Mary’s name was originally Mary Lockett
  • Read on to find out more Behind the Book info about The Traitor in the Tunnel and the rest of the Agency series!

How many months did it take for you to write the original draft of THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL? How does this compare to the other Agency books?
I can’t tell you how long it takes to write a true rough draft because I tend to write simultaneous drafts – that is, I keep reworking earlier bits even as I write new sections. By the time I type “The End”, the first half of the book is semi-polished. But it took about 13 months from starting my research to submitting the ms to my editor. That was quicker than either of the first two Agency novels.

THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL released in the UK in August 2011. Can you explain to us the reasons why there is a difference in release dates?
Each title comes out first in the UK because we (my agent and I) sold World English rights to Walker Books UK, and Walker arranged for their sister company, Candlewick Press, to publish in the US & Canada. But specific release dates are set in-house. While I don’t know the specific reasons for the gap, I’m sure they’re complex.

Did any of the characters in the Agency series ever go through name changes when you first started writing?
Yes! Mary Quinn’s name was Mary Lockett, until a friend pointed out that it sounded like a homage to Sally Lockhart, Philip Pullman’s Victorian heroine. I hadn’t read the Sally Lockhart quartet at that point, but I quickly did! As great as I think they are, I needed to rename my Mary after that. And in the very first draft, James’s name was Frederick. Really.

What was the most challenging part of writing and the editorial process?
The editorial process is so straightforward, from my end. I’m lucky to be edited and proofread by extremely smart, insightful, passionate people and I love that their involvement makes the books stronger. The most challenging part of writing, for me, is when the first draft is halfway done. All the best ideas are worked out, the first flush of excitement is gone, and lots of hard work remains. Writing the second half of a book is pure discipline – until you get to the very end, of course!

Is there anything else that you could tell us about THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL that we wouldn’t know unless we were part of the editorial team at Candlewick?
The number one question I get from readers is some variation on, Will James Easton be in Traitor? Will he change his mind? Will he and Mary EVER get together? I’d hate to give away too much, but James is definitely back. Also, I’m really looking forward to showing you some behind-the-scenes snapshots from the cover photo shoot! They’ll be up at my website in the next few weeks.

For more behind the book information, check out this post at Ying’s blog to read about the cover’s photo shoot!

About the Author

Y. S. Lee was born in Singapore but brought up in Canada. She also lived briefly in the United Kingdom. An academic with a PhD in Victorian literature and culture, she wrote MASCULINITY AND THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS IN VICTORIAN AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND FICTION. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads

Comments 2 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Behind the Book - , , | Words 881 words

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