Lavender House – eARC Review

Title: Lavender House
Author: Lev AC Rosen
Series/Number: Andy Mills #1
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Age: Adult
Publication Date: October 18, 2022
Themes: Ex-Cop, Police Brutality, Homophobia, Lavender Marriage, Murder, Soap Making, Family Dynamics, Animal Death, Suicidal Ideation,


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. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC of this title.

I have only recently been getting into reading mysteries, so I was pretty excited to hear about this one set in the 50s with a queer cast. This was a really fast paced story and I enjoyed watching all these complicated characters interact. There were a lot of difficult topics in the story, that at times were hard to read. Andy is fired from his job as a police officer as a result of being found during a raid on a gay bar. That whole situation, and his thoughts about his situation were heartbreaking to read.

It was interesting seeing him try to figure out how to navigate a murder, while not exposing the truth of Lavender House, or get found out by the police department. I really enjoyed the aspects of the story that showed his interactions with the people living at Lavender House and how their seemingly incredible life isn’t that incredible. There were a lot of layers here that made the story interesting and unpredictable.

I liked that the story took different directions and twists. By the end I couldn’t even guess who the murder was or why they did it. There were so many suspects and so many potential motives. I think if you go into this book expecting anything other than a locked room-esque mystery, you will be disappointed. I think the vibes and marketing of the book made some people think it leaned a bit more supernatural. But this is a mystery set in the 50’s about queer people and all the ways they need to hide their lives and find people they can trust.

I found this very fast paced and enjoyable and I’d definitely be interested in whatever comes next in this series.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars


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