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A Restless Truth by Freya Marske – ARC Review!

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.

What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

Maud Blyth would describe her life as rather bland and boring. But that all changes when she gets roped into helping her brother Robin and his partner, Edwin’s cause to help save the magic that runs through the British Isles. She’s certainly ready for an adventure, she just didn’t see it starting off with finding the dead body of the woman she was travelling with. Maud swiftly starts her own investigation, knowing there is more to the death than the police on the ship suspect and she quickly finds herself working with Violet Debenham, magician & actress who is sure to make a scandal at every turn. The more time they spend together, the more Maud feels drawn to Violet and, along with a pair of bizarre accomplices, they start to look into who exactly may have killed Maud’s travelling companion. With danger lurking and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects to delve through, Maud and Violet are going to have to work together to solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

I ADORED A Marvellous Light when I read it last year. It was the perfect romantasy, with enough adventure, conspiracy and magic to keep me throughout entertained, so I went into this book with super high expectations and it exceeded every single one. Everything about this book just screamed more, more romance, more danger, more magic and excitement and I thoroughly enjoyed following Maud and Violet on their dangerous, entertaining and seriously steamy journey.

Maud was one of my favourite side characters from the first book, so when I heard that we would be following her story in A Restless Truth I was over the moon. She is a woman with many many layers, someone whose upbringing should have made her jaded, loathsome like the aristocrats she investigates through the story, but instead she rallied against her parents upbringing and became headstrong, resilient, kind, especially to those in need, and someone who is more than willing to ruin their reputation if it is for the greater good. Alongside Maud we have Violet Debenham, a girl who sullied herself and her reputation then fled to America. Violet is someone who never truly gives herself away, a true performer always playing the character she feels will get her through the situation at hand. But Maud isn’t one for disguises, and the more time they spend together, the more Maud starts breaking away at the carefully constructed wall Violet has set around herself.

Thanks to the story being set on a ship, we are limited in our side characters, but this doesn’t stop Marske from pulling some absolute gems out to entertain us. My favourite of our side characters was without a doubt, Lord Hawthorn. He was a character we got a limited view of in the first book, but he plays a much larger roll in this thanks to Maud’s unflinching and determined manner in asking for his help. His scenes with Violet and Maud were certainly entertaining, only sometimes of serious nature and most of the time had me laughing out loud, whilst also giving us a better insight into his character and background… I’m calling it now, he has to be the MC of the next book and I will be sorely disappointed if not.

If you’re looking for a regency story that gives off big knives out vibes, brings all the drama and frolicking entertainment whilst giving you plenty of the more steamy scenes… well then look no further. Marske manages to make being stuck on a cruise ship (my worst nightmare) with murderers, magicians and people pretending to be something their not seem fun, as well as down right hilarious in parts. It’s tongue in cheek, as well as tongue in other places that are sure to make you blush and she makes it incredibly easy for your to devour the story… seriously though, she brings the steam in this one so for those with a more sensitive constitution you may want to beware. She takes the magic system from A Marvellous Light and gives us a much better understanding of it, as well as giving us insights into how other countries and cultures use and focus their own forms of magic, which is something I would love to delve into a little more in future books.

Have I talked about the romance yet? Because boy was this romance just brilliantly portrayed. One one side we have Maud, innocent, unspoiled Maud who blushes at the mere thought of saying fuck, never mind taking part in the act. And on the other we have Violet, Violet who ruined her reputation at an early age and has done nothing to try and fix it since. You would think it would be the typical, seasoned lover takes the innocent under their wing to teach them all their deprived ways… and boy would you be wrong. Maud may have never taken part in the act herself, but she is no innocent and I loved the way Marske flipped the power balance with these two. Giving Maud the majority of the power, with none of the experience. It made their scenes infinitely more steamy and sexy and I couldn’t get enough. And while the sex was great, it was the emotions that surrounded it, the slow surrendering to each other, opening up and letting each other in that made it truly special.

Ok, I think this has to be one my longest romantasy reviews, but that’s because these books are just SO MUCH more than simple romantasy. Marske certainly doesn’t skimp on the romance side, but with A Restless Truth also gave us a tongue in cheek murder mystery with a bizarre and yet adorable group of investigator’s, and a further insight into her world, magic as well as more history into the overarching theme throughout her series. I am desperate to get my hands on the next book and cannot wait to see my faves back in action.

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