A Bitter Chill
This second book in the Oak Tree mansio series is just as engaging as the first, Get Out or Die. Aurelia Marcella continues to run the government-approved inn near Eburacum (modern York). The year is 95 A.D., and the holiday of Saturnalia is quickly approaching. While the owner and staff of the mansion are hoping for a holiday without overnight guests, their wish is not to be granted. Three especially fine carriages arrive, disgorging their passengers only after a servant has confirmed that the accommodations are respectable. One of the passengers is the extraordinarily unpleasant aunt of the Governor of the province of Britannia, and she is accompanied by her ill husband and their second son, along with their lawyer, physician, and a number of slaves. She and her husband are looking for their elder son, in order to put a stop to his marrying beneath his station. And while Aurelia and her sister are trying to deal with this extremely demanding group, they are approached by an unpleasant band of outlaws, who demand protection money to keep them from destroying their property. Written in the first person, this mystery combines vivid descriptions of the period and customs with murder and mayhem aplenty.