It’s a miracle – only one DNF this month!!! That’s officially a new record!Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen
Representation: Gay Mc, secondary M/M and F/F
Published on: 18th October 2022
Lavender House, 1952: the family seat of recently deceased matriarch Irene Lamontaine, head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene’s recipes for her signature scents are a well guarded secret - but it's not the only one behind these gates. This estate offers a unique freedom, where none of the residents or staff hide who they are. But to keep their secret, they've needed to keep others out. And now they're worried they're keeping a murderer in.
Irene’s widow hires Evander Mills to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death. Andy, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a raid on a gay bar, is happy to accept - his calendar is wide open. And his secret is the kind of secret the Lamontaines understand.
Andy had never imagined a world like Lavender House. He's seduced by the safety and freedom found behind its gates, where a queer family lives honestly and openly. But that honesty doesn't extend to everything, and he quickly finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy—and Irene’s death is only the beginning.
When your existence is a crime, everything you do is criminal, and the gates of Lavender House can’t lock out the real world forever. Running a soap empire can be a dirty business.
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is a perfectly decent book, but it’s not what I was hoping for. One thing that really needs to be emphasised is that this is absolutely not a queer Knives Out, which I’ve seen it described as. Lavender House is a surprisingly cosy murder-mystery, but it doesn’t have the sharp, complex vibes of Knives Out, and there’s no similarity in the casts. There’s no wacky but brilliant Pl, and these characters do not, in fact, all have their knives out ready to backstab each other.
And that’s fine! Taken on its own merits, Lavender House is very readable, a quick little book that flows along nicely. But it’s a lot more about being closeted – and experiencing a safe haven for the first time – than it is the murder. That also would have been fine, but I misunderstood or misread something, because I was expecting more of a commune thing, and in fact this has quite a small cast – Lavender House isn’t a safe haven for lots of unrelated queer people, it’s a single family and a few servants. And to be honest, I wasn’t very interested in any of them.
I can see it being deeply appealing to the right reader, but it couldn’t quite hold my interest, unfortunately – although to be fair, at least some of that is because I went in with the wrong expectations.
Maybe next month we’ll have no DNFs. Wouldn’t that be something?