Blood for Blood

Written by S.K. Rizzolo
Review by Janis Pegrum Smith

In this second installment of this Regency series (The Rose in the Wheel, Issue 19), S.K. Rizzolo reminds us of how difficult it was to be an English woman without substantial means and how caste-driven English society was in 1812. The engaging main characters, Penelope Wolfe and John Chase, a Bow Street Runner, help move this story along apace.  

As a young footman lay dying in the garden of the house in which Penelope is employed as a lady’s companion, he utters an apocalyptic passage from the Bible which Penelope overhears. Being of an analytical nature, Penelope becomes involved in seeking out the murderer with her friend, Chase, who is doing the police work. They soon discover that the footman had been leading a double life. The case becomes more convoluted than either initially imagines.

Penelope is endearing, bright and capable. A woman with a fascinating past and a difficult present, she is caught between two worlds – that of the sedate, married mother of little Sarah and a woman deserted by her husband but still legally bound to him. While Penelope’s choices – and those of other women in the book — are severely limited by the onerous class distinctions in English life, she certainly makes the best of it. The denouement of the book might not be as successful as I would have liked, but overall, it is a very enjoyable follow-up to the first book in the series.