Online Reading Challenge – May Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in the 1950s & 1960s that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!

I had already read our main title Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo last year for book club, so I decided to read Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen, the first book in the Evander Mills series. Lavender House has similar themes to Last Night at the Telegraph Club, hence my picking this title. Lavender House is the first in a new queer historical series that begins in the early 1950s in California. Let’s get into this book!

It’s California in 1952 and the family that lives at Lavender House has been rocked by tragedy. The matriarch Irene Lamontaine has been found dead in her scent library. Her recipes for her signature soaps are a well held family secret, but as readers learn, those are not the only secrets hidden at Lavender House. Lavender House is unique – none of the staff or family hide who they are. They are free to love who they want and be themselves behind the gates and on the grounds. In order to keep their lives secret though, outsiders must be kept at a distance. Irene’s widow is worried that there may be a murderer on the loose at Lavender House, so she seeks someone to help.

She hires Evander Mills, also known as Andy, to find the killer. Andy has recently been fired from the San Francisco police after he was caught in a raid at a gay bar. Not having any work lined up, Andy accepts and is thrust into the secretive world of Lavender House as he looks for reasons why someone would have killed Irene. What he finds is a complicated mess of family history, old money, jealousy, and lies. As much as the family works to keep their lives insulated and safe, everyone at Lavender House has secrets that could have lead to death. A queer family that lives honestly and openly behind the walls and on the estate of Lavender House is shocking to Andy, but he quickly realizes that they aren’t as honest and open amongst each other as they pretend to be. It’s dangerous to be queer outside of Lavender House. Those at Lavender House may think they live in a utopia, but keeping the real world out forever isn’t feasible.

This title is narrated by one of my favorite audiobook narrators, Vikas Adam, so I was excited to get started. As I mentioned earlier, Lavender House shares similar themes with Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Both titles are character-driven, feature queer characters, are historical, and take place in California in the 1950s. How queer people were treated in the 1950s features prominently as well. Lavender House has older main characters and is a historical mystery, while Last Night at the Telegraph Club is considered a young adult historical novel with romance.

I enjoyed the mystery in this book. While I didn’t have the killer figured out immediately, I did quickly figure it out as I was reading. There is a large cast of characters in this book, but the author doesn’t overwhelm you with details about each at the start. You learn about the characters as Andy’s investigation progresses. All in all, I enjoyed this title set in the 1950s and am excited to see where the next books take me!

I hope you all enjoyed reading, watching, or listening to something set in the 1950s or 1960s this month. Next month, we are traveling to the 1970s.

Evander Mills series

  1. Lavender House (2022)
  2. The Bell in the Fog (2023)
  3. Rough Pages (2024)

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