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The Cocoa Conspiracy by Andrea Penrose
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This is a story for chocolate lovers. Chocolate appears on nearly every page, whether the characters are eating it, drinking it, researching it, or gazing into each other's chocolate-brown eyes.
The Cocoa Conspiracy is the second installment in the Lady Arianna Regency Mystery series, and Arianna is now married to Lord Saybrook. Because of the unconventional way they were married (in the first book), each is insecure about the relationship, creating a well-written, subtle tension.
After buying a birthday present for her husband (a book on chocolate), Lady Arianna discovers a coded message hidden in its binding which speaks of planned treason and murder. The Saybrooks take their knowledge to the dastardly Minister of State Security Lord Percival Grentham, with whom they tangled in the last book. Grentham convinces them to attend a Peace Conference in Vienna to solve the mystery and stop the murders.
The Cocoa Conspiracy has plenty of intrigue, thrills, history, and best of all, chocolate. Each chapter begins with a recipe from “Lady Arianna's Chocolate Notebooks.” Though conveniently modern, these recipes seem out of place with such anachronisms as “heat oven to 325 degrees” and “with an electric mixer . . . .” Still, I cuddled up with a cup of hot chocolate every time I sat down to read. I can't wait for the next installment. ( )
  elizabethcfelt | May 15, 2017 |
The Cocoa Conspiracy is the second book in the Lady Arianna Regency Mystery series.

Lady Arianna and the Earl of Saybrook have now been married and are looking forward to a quite life and doing research on the item that they love, chocolate.

The book opens with Lady Arianna visiting a bookseller looking for something special for her husband's birthday. As she is looking at just the kind of book she wanted to get, a man enters and tries to rest it away from her. Not one to back down, even when the man pulls a knife, she is able to keep possession of book and purchases it.

Upon arriving home she finds that her husband's uncle is there and convinces them that they should agree to spend two weeks at a country home where discussions about an upcoming meeting of European countries is to be held. One day while the men are out hunting the Earl sees a running through the woods and soon comes a dead man. And of course the Earl is found looking at the dead man by Lord Grentham, with whom he has had unpleasant dealings. Then Lady Arianna finds hidden in the cover of the book she had purchased, three important documents. Two are coded messages and the third accuses the Earls uncle of treasonous acts. This leads them to Vienna conference under the guise of doing research of books on chocolate.

Lady Arianna is out on walk with aide to husband's uncle when he is killed and very nearly injuring Lady Arianna. The urgency to find out just who else is might be assassinated increases. Earl Saybrook has his friend from his military day come to Vienna to wrap this volatile situation up before anyone else is killed.

These books give a very exciting story and lots of historical information

Looking forward to the next book in the series. ( )
  yoder | Sep 20, 2013 |
Outstanding, entertaining, with a swashbuckling ending. I cannot wait to read the others in the series. Lady Arianna is a smart, stylish, and shrewd character. ( )
  LadyoftheLodge | Oct 24, 2012 |
Another heroine who just has to tempt fate and she's married to a rich ex-military, ex-spy type. Whatever he tells her not to do, that will she do!

It's a decent mystery, though with a phenomenally heavy handed spy master 'directing' throwing them at that bad guys. ( )
  cfk | Feb 9, 2012 |
Series: 2nd Lady Arianna Regency Mysteries

Main Character: Lady Arianna, newly married to Alessandro de Quincy, Earl Saybrook

Setting: 1814 London, English countryside and Vienna

Obtained Through: publisher for an honest review

Arianna is purchasing a special book on Chocolate for her husband Saybrook when she is accosted by a man insisting he must have the book. Arianna doesn't shrink from the man even when he pulls a knife, but manages to come away unscathed and with the book. When wrapping the present she finds papers have been secreted in the book that appear to involve treason. This discovery propels Arianna and Saybrook to the Congress of Vienna that brings together dignitaries from around the world. Their mission is to prevent an assassination attempt that could upset the power structure of Europe.

There is plenty of suspense and intrigue in this book as Arianna even goes undercover at one point. I literally could not put the book down. There is the political tension and suspense of spying added to the suspense of Saybrook and Arriana learning to really trust one another's motives which doesn't come easy to either. I love both of these characters. Saybrook is dark and dangerous, closed off and Arianna is used to living by her wits on her own.

Will they stop the assassination and learn to trust each other fully? Will the enemy they crossed paths with in the first book finally be identified and brought to justice? With their personal enemy in the government finally leave them alone? While this book stands on its own fine, there are some threads from the prior book that are woven into this one to allow a running subplot (think something along the lines of Sherlock's nemesis Moriarty.)

The final confrontation is exciting and the wrap-up sets up another adventure to tease the reader. I am already anxiously waiting for the next book in the series.

Again I say that this book is a higher caliber than is hinted at by the artwork and blurbs. The period detail is seamlessly woven to paint a vivid backdrop. The characters effortlessly draw the reader into their world and drama. The plots are nicely crafted for maximum effective.

I truly believe this series is one of those undiscovered gems that will steadily garner a large fan base with each new addition to the series. ( )
  AFHeart | Dec 30, 2011 |
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Where there is mystery, it is generally suspected there must also be evil.

-- George Gordon Byron
For Saybrook College,

a fabulous community of students, scholars, and Fellows whose camaraderie and intellectual curiosity is a source of constant inspiration
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The book's binding was crafted out of dark, fine-grained calfskin, its richly tooled embossings age-mellowed to the color of . . . "Chocolate," murmured Arianna Hadley.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451235312, Mass Market Paperback)

Lady Arianna's gift of a rare volume of botanical engravings to her husband, the Earl of Saybrook, has something even more rare hidden inside-sensitive government documents which would mark one they hold dear as a traitor of King and country. To unmask the villain, they must root out a cunning conspiracy-armed only with their wits and expertise in chocolate...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:50 -0400)

Lady Arianna's gift of a rare volume of botanical engravings to her husband, the Earl of Saybrook, has something even more rare hidden inside--sensitive government documents which would mark one they hold dear as a traitor of King and country. To unmask the villain, they must root out a cunning conspiracy--armed only with their wits and expertise in chocolate.… (more)

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