Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spotlight: P. B. Ryan's Nell Sweeney series

Recently in one of our frequent emails, Jane asked me, "BTW, who is P. B. Ryan?" Indeed.

P. B. Ryan is Patricia Ryan, author of historical romances and a series of mysteries set in Boston in the late nineteenth century. It is this six-book series about an Irish governess named Nell Sweeney that I recently read and LOVED. Unfortunately, the books are out of print but have recently been released as inexpensive ebooks. Last week, I read the six of them back-to-back, downloading them as I went onto my nook.

It's really too bad that these are out of print because I think the covers are absolutely charming. As I mentioned, Nell Sweeney is an Irish governess living in Irish-hating Boston over a hundred years ago. However, Nell is much more than just a governess, she is a woman made of secrets, a keen intelligence and compassion. At the beginning of Still Life with Murder, she is working as an assistant/apprentice for a doctor in Cape Cod. One night while summoned to attend to a pregnant woman having a difficult birth, she is offered the job of governess to an affluent family. She readily accepts and is swept into life with the Hewitt family, much to her employer's husband's chagrin. Her first case as an amateur detective involves William Hewitt, eldest son of Viola Hewitt and thought dead after being held at a prisoner camp in the South. (These books take place not long after the Civil War.) Nell soon makes friends and allies who help her with her cases, the most interesting being Will, of course, even if Nell's secret past (?) and Will's opium addiction (!) gets in the way of any romantic relationship they may want to start.

This series is clever and so well done that I am heartbroken that there are no more to come. Smartly written and also a bit romantic, I will be rereading this series for years to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I realize I am over a year late in finding your discussion of the Nell Sweeney books. But I did want to say "hear!hear!" This series was so poorly promoted by the publisher, a true disservice to such an outstanding narrative. You might be interested in the following discussion about traditional vs. self (ebook) publishing. The panel includes Patricia Ryan and she shares some interesting info about the past & future of this series. http://howtowriteshop.loridevoti.com/2011/07/new-york-authors-self-publishing/comment-page-3/#comment-11193 Thank you for sharing your praise of this series -- you are not alone in your not so secret hopes that we have not heard the last of Nell & Will.

Nancy Shour nshour@comcast.net