#BlogTour, Review: “Lying with Lions” by Annabel Fielding

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An engrossing tale and captivating snapshot of the years leading up to WWI

About the Book

Release Date: June 20, 2021

Edwardian England.  Agnes Ashford knows that her duty is threefold: she needs to work on cataloguing the archive of the titled Bryant family, she needs to keep the wounds of her past tightly under wraps, and she needs to be quietly grateful to her employers for taking her up in her hour of need. However, a dark secret she uncovers due to her work thrusts her into the Bryants’ brilliant orbit – and into the clutch of their ambitions.

They are prepared to take the new century head-on and fight for their preeminent position and political survival tooth and nail – and not just to the first blood. With a mix of loyalty, competence, and well-judged silence Agnes rises to the position of a right-hand woman to the family matriarch – the cunning and glamorous Lady Helen. But Lady Helen’s plans to hold on to power through her son are as bold as they are cynical, and one day Agnes is going to face an impossible choice…

About the Book

Set in Edwardian England, Agnes Ashford takes a job as an archivist for the powerful Lord and Lady Bryant. Deep inside the tunnels below the family’s castle, she searches through artifacts and letters from the family and their ancestors to piece together their history, then sort everything in chronological order. Her responsibilities to the family change in an instant; however, upon Lord Bryant’s sudden and unexpected death. Agnes pulls herself out of the dark tunnels by her wits, becoming Lady Helen’s secretary, confidant, lover, and henchman. As Lady Helen’s estranged son assumes his position as the head of the family, Agnes helps them hold onto power and hide the secrets that would threaten it. All the while, Agnes has secrets of her own.

An engrossing tale and captivating snapshot of the years leading up to WWI, “Lying with Lions” by Annabel Fielding was my first foray into historical fiction, not to mention LGBTQ historical fiction. I found myself getting swept away by the vivid descriptions of the Bryant’s Hartfell Hall home and other locations in the book. Not knowing much about this period of time, I was worried the book would seem heavy, and I would get lost in an over 100 year old setting. However, that was never the case. Author Annabel Fielding carries you back in time and gently lowers you into the atmosphere, customs, and sights. You’ll be able to clearly see Lady Helen in her gowns and hear the characters’ voices as if you were there yourself.

Still waters run deep in this book. Agnes, although sympathetic at first, is a social climber out for herself. Already wealthy and powerful, Lady Helen seems to give Agnes what she wants as she seeks to hold onto to power. Neither were all that likeable. However, any negative feelings I had about them didn’t detract from the story. If anything, they made the book all the more compelling. I became so deeply immersed in the story that I felt like part of it, like one of the Bryant family’s maids, observing everything silently.

“Lying with Lions” is a beautifully written tale that contains a flicker of romance and a lot of selfishness, corruption, and greed. Since I don’t usually read historical fiction, I can’t compare it to others in its genre to make a recommendation. But since I don’t usually read historical fiction and got hooked on the story, I can recommend it as a book that grabbed my attention and delivered an intriguing read.

Thank you to author Annabel Fielding for the gifted ARC and for inviting me to participate in her blog tour. The extended blog tour runs now through August.

About the Author

Annabel Fielding, having graduated from the University of Arts London with an MA in Public Relations, is a PR assistant by day and a novelist by night. Being a self-professed history geek, she dedicates her free time to obscure biographies, solo travel and tea. She also posts a mix of book reviews and travel photos on her blog at historygeekintown.com. She can also be followed on Twitter as @DearestAnnabel.