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Lying with Lions

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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 Bryant 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...


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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 Bryant 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...

30 review for Lying with Lions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Historical fiction is one of my comfort genre's so I was extremely excited to get stuck in to Lying with Lions. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exhange for an honest review. TW; death of a child - mentioned, rape - mentioned, abortion - mentioned, suicide, murder. What I liked: - Historical fiction grounded in real historic events, some well known such as the break out of World War One, some lesser known like the Denaby miner's strike. This brings authenticity to th Historical fiction is one of my comfort genre's so I was extremely excited to get stuck in to Lying with Lions. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exhange for an honest review. TW; death of a child - mentioned, rape - mentioned, abortion - mentioned, suicide, murder. What I liked: - Historical fiction grounded in real historic events, some well known such as the break out of World War One, some lesser known like the Denaby miner's strike. This brings authenticity to the book and feels believable. For those that are interested, Fielding points out the specific events that inspired her in her acknowledgements and they're worth reading up on in their own right. - It's refreshing, in historical fiction especially, to have a morally grey protagonist like Agnes. Her decision making is not based upon right or wrong, in fact, acknowledgement of right or wrong does not seem to come in to the novel much. - Agnes' development through the years is so brilliantly executed. From family archivist to lover to something I really wasn't expecting. - The family drama! I could honestly see this being adapted for a TV series with ease! What I didn't like: -The ending. I swear I've read half a dozen Historical Fiction books making use of the same style ending and that was the only thing that really let me down. I predicted it might happen within the first few chapters and I was disappointed to be proved right. -I wanted more of Meredith Bryant. I really enjoyed her interactions with her brother Harold but there wasn't enough of them for me. - A few grammatical errors, but they're not deal breakers at this point. A solid 4 stars from me!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kitty McIntosh

    ‘Lying With Lions’ is a historical family saga, starting in the Edwardian era. Agnes Ashford is an archivist for the Bryant family, an important and influential family, thanks in part to the money from Lady Helen’s dowry. Whilst combing through the family’s papers she uncovers a secret. With this information she becomes invaluable to Lady Helen and her life changes for the better. But in order to hold onto that life Agnes must make uncomfortable choices. I enjoyed reading about Agnes and her lif ‘Lying With Lions’ is a historical family saga, starting in the Edwardian era. Agnes Ashford is an archivist for the Bryant family, an important and influential family, thanks in part to the money from Lady Helen’s dowry. Whilst combing through the family’s papers she uncovers a secret. With this information she becomes invaluable to Lady Helen and her life changes for the better. But in order to hold onto that life Agnes must make uncomfortable choices. I enjoyed reading about Agnes and her life, in a time where single women without family had difficult choices to make to survive. We see how society changes during the Edwardian era and into the new era of George V. The family Agnes works for has to change too. Their lives have been pampered and regimented for centuries, but the new era begins to break down the barriers between the classes. And the Bryants and Davenports were not prepared for that. The romantic elements of the story were handed well, as they were written with subtlety and a gentle touch. There’s a gothic touch to the story too and this added an extra element. I was given this ARC for review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    This book was a wonderful surprise! I am a huge fan of historical fiction and this one was no exception. The plot was intriguing enough: Agnes Ashford, an archivist is employed by the Bryant family to catalogue their archives but uncovers secrets that changes everything. I loved the mystery aura this book had. We learn through the main character, Agnes, secrets about the mysterious family and how they each navigate them. The subdued mystery/ crime aspect was thrilling. But the best part was the a This book was a wonderful surprise! I am a huge fan of historical fiction and this one was no exception. The plot was intriguing enough: Agnes Ashford, an archivist is employed by the Bryant family to catalogue their archives but uncovers secrets that changes everything. I loved the mystery aura this book had. We learn through the main character, Agnes, secrets about the mysterious family and how they each navigate them. The subdued mystery/ crime aspect was thrilling. But the best part was the author’s voice. As it is mentioned in the Author’s note, so many elements of the story are inspired by historical events and historical figures but the author added their unique and interesting voice. The prose was beautiful and I highlighted so many quotes. I liked the narration which focused on Agnes, who is a social climber with a lot of ambition. How could she not be in the world she was living in? I didn’t find her to be especially likable but that didn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, I loved reading about her ambition, the way her beautiful brain worked and how devoted and loyal she was (even if it was sometimes for her own gain). I will forever root for cunning, smart and ruthless young women. Her character development was the best part of the story; she began the story as a naive “little lamb” to becoming a ruthless lion under Helen’s supervision. That’s another element I loved: the romance between Agnes and Helen! I loved the fact that there was a sapphic relationship in this setting and I regret that most of the romance aspect happened off the page even though their closeness could be seen by everyone. I loved how they helped each other in their own way and also how unhealthy it was. It was raw and honest and I couldn’t get enough. And there were the other characters: Henry and Meredith who I couldn’t help rooting for. They were great “supporting” characters and it was nice to read their thoughts when the author shared them. At some point the characters travel to Italy and the description was excellent because I felt as though I was traveling with them. This voyage was accompanied by talks of history and art which I truly enjoyed and I think the author captured Edwardian England pretty well. I really recommend this book if you enjoy historical fictions, laced with political scheming, secrets, romance and betrayal. Thank you to the author for gifting me a copy of this book. All opinions are honest and my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    elise (the petite punk)

    Thank you to the author and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. 3/5 stars Lying with Lions is an atmospheric historical fiction novel full of danger, politics, and conflict. It follows our main character Agnes, who is the archivist for the Bryant family. However, as Agnes uncover a web of life-changing secrets, she must make some tough decisions. WHAT I LIKED: The writing was fantastic. It is easy to tell that Annabel Fielding knows what she is talk about, as Thank you to the author and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. 3/5 stars Lying with Lions is an atmospheric historical fiction novel full of danger, politics, and conflict. It follows our main character Agnes, who is the archivist for the Bryant family. However, as Agnes uncover a web of life-changing secrets, she must make some tough decisions. WHAT I LIKED: The writing was fantastic. It is easy to tell that Annabel Fielding knows what she is talk about, as this novel is rich in description and atmosphere. The dialogue was also captivating. If you are someone who appreciates complexity and detail, you will enjoy this book. Furthermore, I liked the subtleness within the drama. The LGBTQ+ representation was the main reason I wanted to branch out and try this genre once again (historical fiction usually doesn't work for me), and I was surprised how quiet the relationship was. This is not a bad thing at all--I love when LGBTQ+ books can have queer relationships without it being the center of the book. It makes it feel normal, and also places the drama and conflict of the book elsewhere. WHAT I STRUGGLED WITH: Historical fiction is a difficult genre for me. I love the idea of it, but I often struggle to comprehend it. This is 100% my own preference of the genre as a whole, and not a reflection of the book itself. I also got a bit lost with the plot. It became a bit too political and complex for me, but if you are someone who likes plot-based books, this one is for you. I much prefer character-driven novels, and actually enjoy when books have little plot, so I was really looking for more character development. Overall, I would recommend Lying with Lions to anyone who likes historical fiction novels that are dark, atmospheric, and complex, especially if you are looking for something with sapphic representation. This somewhat reminded me of the atmosphere of Wuthering Heights, so if you enjoyed that book, check out Lying with Lions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    MaryannC. Book Freak

    3.5 actual stars. An atmospheric and gothic read set during the Edwardian age about a young woman hired as an archivist to an affluent family who uncovers secrets and turmoil within and the matriarch determined to hold onto her power at any costs Young and outspoken Agnes spends her days documenting the lives of the old, moneyed Bryant family when she discovers a long buried secret deep within the tunnels of the estate. Reminding herself of her place as she moves forward in her work Agnes begins t 3.5 actual stars. An atmospheric and gothic read set during the Edwardian age about a young woman hired as an archivist to an affluent family who uncovers secrets and turmoil within and the matriarch determined to hold onto her power at any costs Young and outspoken Agnes spends her days documenting the lives of the old, moneyed Bryant family when she discovers a long buried secret deep within the tunnels of the estate. Reminding herself of her place as she moves forward in her work Agnes begins to gain the confidences of the formidable and icy Lady Helen who is presides over the family with an iron fist and the two women embark on a passionate and scandalous relationship but being privy to the inner members of the family Agnes will bear witness to their political aspirations, loyalties and just how ruthless Lady Helen can be when she is trying to hold onto the reigns of power. Thank you to author Annabel Fielding and NetGalley for providing me a copy in exchange for my review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    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 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emma Hardy

    An unusual time period, but really works for this historical novel. Felt a bit Agatha Christie meets Sarah Waters for all the right reasons. Loved Helen and Agnes' relationship too. Agnes really changed my perceptions of her as the book continued and I found her particularly intriguing. Lots of characters that add to the plot and the small time hops are also interesting, Its packed in so many things that it felt pacey and kept my attention throughout, Good to see LGBTQIA representation in this type o An unusual time period, but really works for this historical novel. Felt a bit Agatha Christie meets Sarah Waters for all the right reasons. Loved Helen and Agnes' relationship too. Agnes really changed my perceptions of her as the book continued and I found her particularly intriguing. Lots of characters that add to the plot and the small time hops are also interesting, Its packed in so many things that it felt pacey and kept my attention throughout, Good to see LGBTQIA representation in this type of novel- not enough in my opinion. A wonderfully written read, very enjoyable.

  8. 5 out of 5

    atlas ♡

    DNF @ 25% I'll admit that this DNF was more of a me problem. I couldn't connect with the characters or storyline in general. I liked the premise but it ended up not really grabbing my attention at all. I've also just been quite busy lately and don't have the time to spend hours on books I don't really care for. Thank you to Netgalley and KDP publishing for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. DNF @ 25% I'll admit that this DNF was more of a me problem. I couldn't connect with the characters or storyline in general. I liked the premise but it ended up not really grabbing my attention at all. I've also just been quite busy lately and don't have the time to spend hours on books I don't really care for. Thank you to Netgalley and KDP publishing for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm Blogger

    I’d like to thank Annabel Fielding for contacting me to take part in the blog tour of this haunting historical fiction story. The story follows Agnes who originally started working for the Bryant family as an archivist. I initially found the beginning a little confusing as we were thrown straight into the story with little information about Agnes and her history. However I soon got into the chaotic life of the Bryant family and was intrigued to see how Agnes story played out. One thing was certain I’d like to thank Annabel Fielding for contacting me to take part in the blog tour of this haunting historical fiction story. The story follows Agnes who originally started working for the Bryant family as an archivist. I initially found the beginning a little confusing as we were thrown straight into the story with little information about Agnes and her history. However I soon got into the chaotic life of the Bryant family and was intrigued to see how Agnes story played out. One thing was certain, everyone in the Bryant family was either scheming or keeping secrets. No one seemed to trust one another and would happily let an innocent take the blame if it meant they were saved. In amongst the chaos was Agnes who’s love for Lady Helen blinded her to the corruption. Agnes soon found herself swept up in the family drama’s and I admire her loyalty and clever ways to protect those closest to her. The settings were described vividly and Hartfell Hall was especially gothic and dark in my imagination. I loved all the different places they travelled too as well. Harold and Meredith’s stories were very interesting and I felt they had Agnes sussed quite early on. The relationship between Agnes and Lady Helen was delicately written and gave the book a different edge. Neither lady were particularly likeable but I was intrigued to see how their romance would play out. It was hard at times to tell who was using who but ultimately I felt that Agnes had placed her trust in the wrong person. The ending was climatic and as dramatic as I had expected. All lose ends were tied up and the ultimate betrayals were revealed. At under 300 pages this story is packed with devilish characters, beautiful settings and a lot of family drama!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dionna

    This is 2.5⭐️ for me because the genre and the pacing was not my cup of tea. I don’t read much of historical fiction, and if I do the pacing just needs to be there and it wasn’t in this one. Pacing is a make or break for me, it’s what brings books down from absolutely incredible to pretty good. I did enjoy the plot though, it’s mysterious with plot twists all through it. The relationship between the two leading women was so intricate and complex, and it’s something that I did like because there This is 2.5⭐️ for me because the genre and the pacing was not my cup of tea. I don’t read much of historical fiction, and if I do the pacing just needs to be there and it wasn’t in this one. Pacing is a make or break for me, it’s what brings books down from absolutely incredible to pretty good. I did enjoy the plot though, it’s mysterious with plot twists all through it. The relationship between the two leading women was so intricate and complex, and it’s something that I did like because there was just so much that happened in order for them to be together, and then once they were, they were in so deep there was no going back. There’s definitely a power play within their relationship and it unfolds fittingly. I enjoyed the ending, I like how Fielding didn’t hold back with it. But since historical fiction is not my typical genre, I did find myself getting lost often. The book is also written like a classic — which is good and difficult at the same time. I love the writing, as I do with all classics, but I found myself rereading frequently or going pages without understanding what was happening (this is on me though, not the book itself!) Overall, I loved the idea behind this book. I enjoyed how shocking the scandals were, and the grotesque atmosphere that Fielding created. But the pacing is what I struggled the most with.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sophie M

    I received Lying With Lions by Annabel Fielding through NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for this advanced copy! I've really been enjoying historical fiction lately and I was instantly intrigued by the concept of Lying With Lions! When Agnes is tasked with organising the Bryant's family archives what secrets will she uncover? And after getting tangled in the mess what secrets will she have to take to her grave? The writing is beautiful throughout and very de I received Lying With Lions by Annabel Fielding through NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for this advanced copy! I've really been enjoying historical fiction lately and I was instantly intrigued by the concept of Lying With Lions! When Agnes is tasked with organising the Bryant's family archives what secrets will she uncover? And after getting tangled in the mess what secrets will she have to take to her grave? The writing is beautiful throughout and very descriptive - the imagery immediately draws the reader in and keeps them captivated. Plus, I also enjoyed the mysteries in the story that all came together in such a clever way with some fantastic twists! The characters were very interesting and I loved the sapphic relationship! It was such a nice change of pace to have a historical fiction with sapphic representation and I am definitely on the hunt for even more now. With Helen being very calculating and Agnes being brilliantly smart, they made a great pair! I liked how there was a bit of everything in this story. From politics, cover-ups, parties and even a court case - there is definitely something for everyone! Lying With Lions is a really good historical fiction that will keep you guessing!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Robey

    A cleverly written historical fiction full of scheming characters, politics and family drama. The story reads like a family saga- each of the characters caught up in their own scenes plotting against eachother for personal gain. Family secrets kept as weapons for future use. Agnes is an interesting main character- cunning and ambitious, she manages to work her way into family life from the lowly role of archivist to Lady Helen’s right-hand woman, involved in all of the family’s drama.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ClaireJ

    Lying With Lions is an intriguing and captivating tale of the privileged Bryant Family who hold some very dark secrets. Our protagonist Agnes discovers these shocking truths and find herself caught up in the family’s cunning ways especially her involvement with the powerful Lady Helen. The main characters are selfish, greedy and even corrupt. There is a heavy gloom that shadows around the Bryant Family and you know from the very start that some twisted truths are going to be unleashed. It has a Lying With Lions is an intriguing and captivating tale of the privileged Bryant Family who hold some very dark secrets. Our protagonist Agnes discovers these shocking truths and find herself caught up in the family’s cunning ways especially her involvement with the powerful Lady Helen. The main characters are selfish, greedy and even corrupt. There is a heavy gloom that shadows around the Bryant Family and you know from the very start that some twisted truths are going to be unleashed. It has a bit of romance and I found it so refreshing having some LBTQ+ rep in one of the main storylines. I particularly loved the details the author wrote so beautifully about the era before the First World War whether it’s political events, descriptions of the everyday lives of people of that time to the immersive, vivid details of Hartfell Hall. The author successfully keeps you gripped throughout with the tense atmosphere she creates and the suspense of each unravelling of truth that then escalates to a shocking ending. A compelling and entertaining read that fans of historical fiction will revel in.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    Thank you to the author for the ARC! I was asked to take part in a blog tour (my first one!) and share my thoughts about this sapphic historical novel. LYING WITH LIONS takes place in Edwardian England and follows Agnes, a young archivist who has been hired by the head of the Bryant family, the Baron of Willoughby, to organize the family’s extensive history. She is grateful for the work, having lost both her parents and with no other means of supporting herself. However, along the way she uncover Thank you to the author for the ARC! I was asked to take part in a blog tour (my first one!) and share my thoughts about this sapphic historical novel. LYING WITH LIONS takes place in Edwardian England and follows Agnes, a young archivist who has been hired by the head of the Bryant family, the Baron of Willoughby, to organize the family’s extensive history. She is grateful for the work, having lost both her parents and with no other means of supporting herself. However, along the way she uncovers potentially dangerous family secrets, which brings her to the attention of the cunning Lady Helen, wife of the Baron. All of a sudden, Agnes is playing a much more important role in the lives of these important people and Agnes has to decide how far she is willing to go at the side of this ambitious woman. One of my first overall impressions of this book is that Agnes inhabits a world where the men are all kind of silly, despite being the ones officially in power. The Baron is a ridiculous (and loathsome) man who doesn’t seem to care about anything beyond who will end up in his bed that night. Lady Helen’s brother, who raised her son Harold after an accident in his youth, is portrayed as a selfish cad who only really looks out for himself. Harold, who inherits his father’s title after an untimely death, is inexperienced and makes a fool of himself several times, having grown up far away from his family’s estate and unfamiliar with the ways of gentry life. These impressions are undoubtedly colored by the fact that Agnes is in love with a woman, Lady Helen. She has no patience for, or interest in, men and the ones that cross her path don’t particularly impress her. In this world, the women are the interesting ones: Helen who hates her husband (rightfully so) and desires power, which she will do almost anything to get. Sylvia, sister of the late Baron, who tries to disinherit her nephew with a ridiculous, if clever, claim. Meredith, daughter of Lady Helen, who would much rather live in Ancient Greece than Edwardian England. Penny, a servant whose role in the story I don’t want to give away. And Agnes: at first a lowly archivist, but an ambitious, observant, and clever girl who rises to be Lady Helen’s companion and secretary, at least to the outside world. Agnes is in actuality her confidant, friend, and lover (she even refers to herself as Lady Helen’s wife after a few years). Agnes is the connector between the servants and the family, occupying a sort of in-between place as the family archivist. This is a world where roles are clearly defined, so movement between the classes is not normal. Agnes’ ascent from hired help to Lady Helen’s companion is unusual--compare it to Tom Branson’s move from chauffeur to member of the household in Downton Abbey, which takes place around the same time. Agnes, of course, has ambitions of her own, so she will take any advantage she can get, and a close relationship with a rich widow is definitely advantageous compared to the life of an archivist-for-hire. LYING WITH LIONS is at its core a story of ambition, and all the potential darkness that comes along with it. Lady Helen’s ambition, and Agnes’ own. As the tale goes on, it gets darker and darker and Agnes becomes more and more willing to do what Lady Helen asks of her to get and retain power in a world where a woman has very little. Also, the romantic relationship between Agnes and Lady Helen was interesting. The power dynamics and the age difference between them certainly played a part, whether it was acknowledged or not. Agnes often saw herself as Lady Helen's equal, having been intimately acquainted with her for years and having been trusted with secrets and deception. But Lady Helen never quite forgot that Agnes was at her mercy and a few decisions away from complete ruin. Oddly, it’s also a quiet story. It’s rather slow-moving most of the time, with bursts of surprising action. There are times when the plot gets a little bogged down in description--the book is less than 250 pages but it took me a week to read it. The action was the most interesting part, and when Agnes was scheming with Helen or plotting behind the scenes, that was when the story was at its best. As someone who doesn’t read much historical fiction anymore, it was still an enjoyable read! Like I said before, a little slow at times, but a well-rounded story. Fans of the genre would definitely like it, and it was clearly well-researched.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    ⋆⋆⋆⋆ Thank you to NetGalley and KDP for allowing me to read this ARC! Content Warning: death (including that of a child), murder, arson, rape, sexual assault, misogyny. Agnes Ashford has been taken on by the prestigious Bryant Family to work as an archivist. When she happens upon a piece of information that reveals the dark underbelly of the secretive family, it only leads her deeper into their thrall. It doesn't help that she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the charming Lady of the house, Hel ⋆⋆⋆⋆ Thank you to NetGalley and KDP for allowing me to read this ARC! Content Warning: death (including that of a child), murder, arson, rape, sexual assault, misogyny. Agnes Ashford has been taken on by the prestigious Bryant Family to work as an archivist. When she happens upon a piece of information that reveals the dark underbelly of the secretive family, it only leads her deeper into their thrall. It doesn't help that she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the charming Lady of the house, Helen, who is as equally beautiful as she is ruthless. If only Agnes knew just what this treacherous path would lead her to... Darkly luxurious, teeming with secrets and malice, Fielding's Lying With Lions kept me enthralled until the very end. As someone who is a huge fan of historical fiction, I was only too glad to pick this one up, especially when I realized that it was a turn of the century Gothic. I've never read any Fielding's other books, although I've had a few on my to-read list for many years now, and I'll certainly be diving into them now! In essence a character study, we follow the reserved, cunningly smart Agnes as she climbs through the ranks, making herself an invaluable tool for Lady Helen. Both of them are fascinating, oftentimes downright Machiavellian in their scheming, and it's these two that truly bring the the novel into vivid life. There's also Meredith and Harold, Lady Helen's children, who are equally interesting and show us the true dysfunction of the family through their eyes. Funnily enough, the main criticism I have is that I actually think this could have benefitted from being longer! It's only around 230 pages, not very big at all, and while I think usually books need things to be cut or pared down, it was the opposite in this case. We skip ahead a few years several times throughout, but I would've liked a couple more chapters for each time span. I think that, with a bit more material, the relationship that blossoms between Helen and Agnes would've been even more engrossing and well-fleshed out. I also must mention that Fielding has a truly beautiful way with words. Some of her descriptions are just absolutely gorgeous, and I loved feeling as if I were actually transported back to Edwardian England. I think some might, like myself, be a bit confused by some of the politics of the time (for example, there's a lot to do with Asquith, Home Rule and arms trades) but don't let that daunt you! Once you get fully into the novel, everything comes together, and you might end up learning more about the time, just as I did!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I received this book from NetGalley and KDP in exchange for an honest review. Agnes Ashford begins work as an archivist for the prestigious Bryant family, but in doing so she begins to unravel long-held family secrets that draw her deeper into a web of mystery. This is a darkly gothic story set in 1910s England. The start, set in subterranean tunnels crowded with artefacts from the Bryant family’s history is deeply atmospheric and compelling. I enjoyed watching Agnes find out the first series of I received this book from NetGalley and KDP in exchange for an honest review. Agnes Ashford begins work as an archivist for the prestigious Bryant family, but in doing so she begins to unravel long-held family secrets that draw her deeper into a web of mystery. This is a darkly gothic story set in 1910s England. The start, set in subterranean tunnels crowded with artefacts from the Bryant family’s history is deeply atmospheric and compelling. I enjoyed watching Agnes find out the first series of secrets that have ruled the lives of Lord and Lady Bryant and their children. I enjoyed the fledgling friendship and romance develop between Agnes and Helen, Lady Bryant. The book did start to lose me towards the end and I did get lost in the myriad of plot threads, if I’m honest. I think it could have benefitted from one less scandal. I think, in all honesty, a lot of this is a me problem, rather than the book. I think this was more of a gothic story and character study of Agnes – and of how far a person will go to better their position – than the romance I thought I was going to get. I think that accounts for some of the disappointment I felt on its conclusion. Helen herself was a hard character to like at times, and I think that soured me on the romance element. Agnes was a very interesting character though, with motives for everything she does. She’s a glorious shade of morally grey that I’ve always liked, and I couldn’t help but root for her, even if she does do some things to protect her interests and those of the Bryant’s that I didn’t always agree with. I wasn’t entirely in love with the decision to write the novel in third-person present. It always took me a while to settle into. That said, it is beautifully written and atmospheric – Fielding clearly has a lot of talent and knows how to use it. I can’t fault the writing itself, other than to say it wasn’t for me. There were a couple of places where another edit could have been useful – a character was referred to with the wrong surname at one point – but nothing that would put me off recommending this. In all, I did enjoy reading this book – it perhaps wasn’t exactly to my tastes, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t instantly recommend it to someone who loves gothic stories of fading grandeur.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Meigan

    ”Shared secrets tend to raise awareness of one another in a certain way. Heighten the sensitivity like flayed skin.” LYING WITH LIONS is a fantastic historical novel set in Edwardian England, where secrets are just as abundant as social climbers. Filled with ambitious characters, political machinations, morally grey characters, and at its center is a brilliant woman who manages to outsmart (and outmaneuver) them all. {𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐈 𝐋𝐈𝐊𝐄𝐃}⁣ * The time period. The majority of the tale is set dur ”Shared secrets tend to raise awareness of one another in a certain way. Heighten the sensitivity like flayed skin.” LYING WITH LIONS is a fantastic historical novel set in Edwardian England, where secrets are just as abundant as social climbers. Filled with ambitious characters, political machinations, morally grey characters, and at its center is a brilliant woman who manages to outsmart (and outmaneuver) them all. {𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐈 𝐋𝐈𝐊𝐄𝐃}⁣ * The time period. The majority of the tale is set during the time when WW1 is on the horizon. It had all the feels of a Victorian novel, but with delightful motorcars and more modern conveniences. * The characters. Each one has secrets, each one has goals, each one wants power. Agnes in particular managed to fool them all when in reality, she’s just as power hungry as the rest of them. She just hides it better. * The relationship between Helen and Agnes. I love me a good sapphic love story, and these two were perfect for one another from the beginning. * The political machinations, scandals, and the cutthroat atmosphere that goes along with that. * The overall tone and air of mystery. Fielding manages to keep readers guessing not only about the secrets each character keeps, but about their motivations and who they are as people. I live for morally grey, and each and every character in this book falls under that description. Bottom line — an interesting and immersive read that’ll keep you guessing until the end. There’s mayhem, murder, secrets, lies, and betrayal, with a little f/f romance to round it all out. 4 stars. *Many thanks to the author and NetGalley for providing a copy for review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura Nelson (Tangents and Tissues)

    ***3.5 stars!*** When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. Lying with Lions is the latest release from new-to-me author, Annabel Fielding, set in Edwardian England telling the tale of Agnes Ashford’s rise within the aristocratic Bryant household. Employed initially as an archivist, Agnes is a bit of an enigma. Her past is shrouded in mystery, but I was left with the overriding feeling that there was nothing she wouldn’t do to secure her position and future. Hartfell Hall and the tunnels ru ***3.5 stars!*** When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. Lying with Lions is the latest release from new-to-me author, Annabel Fielding, set in Edwardian England telling the tale of Agnes Ashford’s rise within the aristocratic Bryant household. Employed initially as an archivist, Agnes is a bit of an enigma. Her past is shrouded in mystery, but I was left with the overriding feeling that there was nothing she wouldn’t do to secure her position and future. Hartfell Hall and the tunnels running beneath where we first meet Agnes lend a dark gothic undertone to the narrative which weaves its way throughout the book creating an uneasy atmosphere. Although admittedly it took me a few pages to connect with the writing style, I was engrossed from the beginning. Imho, they aren’t exactly the most likeable of characters. Some might even say morally corrupt, but I had to see how all the plotting and scheming played out. One of things I love most about historical fiction is when real life events are interwoven and reimagined in books. The author’s research and attention to detail was evident in Agnes’s story. Despite not liking the characters very much (were we meant to?!) and with an ending that felt a bit rushed for my tastes, I did overall enjoy this fascinating story. Plus, I really wanted those ciphered notes to be fully decrypted! (I’m so bad at needing to know everything *shrugs*.) I have a feeling I’m still going to be talking about this book in the weeks to come.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Siâni

    If you’re looking for a historical fiction novel that centres around strong-willed and morally corrupt women, then this is the book for you. The book follows Agnes, an archivist working in a big house for Lord and Lady Bryant. She unearths secrets even before the real events of the novel take place. Any big family has its secrets, but events ramp up and soon, they are at breaking point. Female characters have agency in this book. Usually, it is the men who sneak around and try and backstab other If you’re looking for a historical fiction novel that centres around strong-willed and morally corrupt women, then this is the book for you. The book follows Agnes, an archivist working in a big house for Lord and Lady Bryant. She unearths secrets even before the real events of the novel take place. Any big family has its secrets, but events ramp up and soon, they are at breaking point. Female characters have agency in this book. Usually, it is the men who sneak around and try and backstab other rich and noteworthy men to gain more power and money. Here, we see women doing it and we also see a woman take control of her narrative to better her lot. Agnes comes from a very humble background and manages to climb high up within the Bryant household. My main struggle was finding a connection with any of the characters. I mainly felt for Harold seeing as he suffered quite a bit during the course of the novel. Despite the trauma Helen had suffered by being raped by her husband, she does not come across as a very sympathetic character as she is also part of the problem within high society. She does not seem to care about her son nor her daughter. Only their titles and money. Again, it is usually men who are the focus of these types of novels, and I enjoyed that it mainly focused on Agnes and Helen. I also enjoyed their relationship and power dynamic. Just not sure I fully appreciated the story as I did not care for either of them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julija

    I've devoured this book and, well, I am still digesting it. The title "Lying with Lions", the mysterious cover as well as the prospect of a historical fiction with a sapphic romance in it already sounded intriguing to me so I was very excited when I received this book as an arc for a review (thank you! to the author and netgalley) It is set in the edwardian era and we follow Agnes, who is an archivist for the Bryant family; in her work she uncovers some family secrets and from this point on her I've devoured this book and, well, I am still digesting it. The title "Lying with Lions", the mysterious cover as well as the prospect of a historical fiction with a sapphic romance in it already sounded intriguing to me so I was very excited when I received this book as an arc for a review (thank you! to the author and netgalley) It is set in the edwardian era and we follow Agnes, who is an archivist for the Bryant family; in her work she uncovers some family secrets and from this point on her relationship with the family, especially Lady Helen and herself start to change, as more and more mysterious events take place, politics come into game and further secrets are revealed... This was very fast paced which suited the story well; it constantly had me at the edge of my seat. Some parts feel a bit staccato- changing the location/situation etc quite quickly, which was sometimes a bit confusing. especially in the beginning, but throughout the book it became much more fluid. The writing is beautiful- I underlined many quotes, and truly enjoyed reading the descriptions and dialogues. Some plottwists really caught me off guard; while others I expected and was pretty dissapointed with how they were resolved. The characters were very interesting and complex- especially the Helen and Agnes- I was never sure what their next move is going to be and it was very fun to follow along this game of power. I liked the way their relationship was integrated into the story and how we were able to follow it througout the years. Overall I really enjoyed this book, I couldn't put it down- my biggest remark is that I personally hoped for a different kind of ending, but at least it surprised me and left me with a lot think about in retrospect. Excited to read more by this author! Review of this book on my Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTzt9... (make sure to check for trigger warnings before picking this up. death, rape, murder...)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    5 Stars Lying With Lions by Annabel Fielding took me on quite a journey- being my first read from Ms. Fielding I really didn’t know what to expect going in, but the blurb intrigued me enough to want to take a chance, and so I snapped up a copy and dove in as soon as it hit my Kindle. What I discovered has made me an instant fan, and I will definitely be on the look out for more of her work. This is historical fiction done really well. Set in Edwardian England, the story was intriguing- with a bit 5 Stars Lying With Lions by Annabel Fielding took me on quite a journey- being my first read from Ms. Fielding I really didn’t know what to expect going in, but the blurb intrigued me enough to want to take a chance, and so I snapped up a copy and dove in as soon as it hit my Kindle. What I discovered has made me an instant fan, and I will definitely be on the look out for more of her work. This is historical fiction done really well. Set in Edwardian England, the story was intriguing- with a bit of an unpredictability to the whole thing. The author writes vividly, it was like watching a movie- her descriptions and rich details brought everything to life right before my eyes. I can see she has put a lot of research, thought, blood, sweat, and soul into her story- her attention to detail was very apparent throughout. I can see this making a great movie, or television mini-series. The story was original, using factual events to inspire and shape her story. The atmosphere in places was mysterious, with great tension, dramatic developments, and plenty of suspense. The characters had depth-fully developed individuals with their own personalities, quirks, and flaws. All these elements came together into an engrossing read. If you love good historical fiction that will keep you flipping the pages to find out what happens, then you won’t want to miss this book! Thank you, Annabel Fielding!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Weisrock

    I intend to avoid spoilers. I received this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review! Let me say this, from the first page I was blown away by the care the author took to details. Whenever you tackle historical fiction it's important for the author to try and remain true to the time they are depicting--this one a gem from the start. Fielding described the Edwardian era vividly. The story follows Agnes Ashford, who's been sent to the Bryant family to trace their family tree and keep order in th I intend to avoid spoilers. I received this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review! Let me say this, from the first page I was blown away by the care the author took to details. Whenever you tackle historical fiction it's important for the author to try and remain true to the time they are depicting--this one a gem from the start. Fielding described the Edwardian era vividly. The story follows Agnes Ashford, who's been sent to the Bryant family to trace their family tree and keep order in their family's timeline of events. As she tours the tunnels below the large estate, she begins to uncover strange happenings and secrets that the Bryant family would like to leave uncovered....and the plot thickens... *Cue* dead son... Along the way, Agnes gets entangled with the lady of the house, Helen Bryant. They engage in sharing secrets and then an affair. I did expect a touch more romance, but I still enjoyed it. At first, I thought Agnes was this "goodie goodie" character, but as the book moves on Agnes becomes much more and resembles the morally grey characters we all love. My only complaint was pacing. There were times I wanted more in chapters or for the story to slow down rather than jumping in progression. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, mystery, LGBTQA+

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leah Ruth

    As anyone who’s been reading my blogs for a while will know, historical fiction is my favourite genre to read, so I jumped at the chance to read this historical fiction novel via NetGalley. I found the beginning of the book quite confusing – it felt like we were thrown into the story with very little context, and it is for that reason that the I gave the book a 3 star rating. Once I’d figured out what was happening, I started to become deeply invested in the storyline. Despite the lack of contex As anyone who’s been reading my blogs for a while will know, historical fiction is my favourite genre to read, so I jumped at the chance to read this historical fiction novel via NetGalley. I found the beginning of the book quite confusing – it felt like we were thrown into the story with very little context, and it is for that reason that the I gave the book a 3 star rating. Once I’d figured out what was happening, I started to become deeply invested in the storyline. Despite the lack of context at the beginning of the book, I thought the writing was fantastic throughout. The relationship between Helen and Agnes was great, and I think that LGBT+ representation in historical fiction is so important – just because at the time it was frowned upon doesn’t mean it didn’t exist! The storyline is intriguing and immersive, and when I was starting out reading the book, I wouldn’t have been able to guess its plot if I was just going off the synopsis. There are a number content throughout the book that could be seen as problematic for some readers (see trigger warnings at the top of the page). Being mindful of these, I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a historical fiction with plenty of drama and Edwardian lesbians. Thanks again to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for this review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bayan Sh

    Yet another book with an Agnes named main character, lol, two in a row! Warnings: child death, rape, abortion, suicide, murder. Genuinely speaking though, this was a total tv drama material, lol, because although the historical events mentioned were accurate and evenly spaced out, there was enough space for character development, family drama and a morally gray main character, who doesn't even consider thinking whether what she does is right or wrong. I love the diversity of having mystery, politic Yet another book with an Agnes named main character, lol, two in a row! Warnings: child death, rape, abortion, suicide, murder. Genuinely speaking though, this was a total tv drama material, lol, because although the historical events mentioned were accurate and evenly spaced out, there was enough space for character development, family drama and a morally gray main character, who doesn't even consider thinking whether what she does is right or wrong. I love the diversity of having mystery, politics and historically accurate events! It kind of started a little bit confusing and then cleared up and all awesomeness came to light. I actually predicted the end in the beginning, but I still quite enjoyed it, I wanted more from characters but mostly all was amazing and fun to read. Totally recommend!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Corgel

    I was hoping to enjoy this far more than I did. I love historical and gothic mysteries, and that this has a lesbian love story in it made it just my thing. I don't know why but this a very slow read to me. It took a long time to get me invested in what was happening, to the point when the romance actually started, I was surprised at how sudden it was. I will say I enjoyed the characters, especially Agnes Ashford, the supposedly meek young archivist who has motives of her own. Lady Helena is fine I was hoping to enjoy this far more than I did. I love historical and gothic mysteries, and that this has a lesbian love story in it made it just my thing. I don't know why but this a very slow read to me. It took a long time to get me invested in what was happening, to the point when the romance actually started, I was surprised at how sudden it was. I will say I enjoyed the characters, especially Agnes Ashford, the supposedly meek young archivist who has motives of her own. Lady Helena is fine the way she is, and I liked how she is so driven. Beyond that, it is hard to root for them as a couple, because the relationship is inherently toxic. I still would have found their relationship compelling, especially since Fielding didn't really romanticize it, and it helped spice of some of the more boring political powerplays. I knew that one of them was a true snake, or more dastardly than I'd initially thought, and it was fun to unravel that. Overall, this didn't really jive with me, even though I can see where folks would enjoy it. It was a little too slow for me, with most of the actual fun stuff happening at the latter half of the book. I thought it was a little too careful setting up the game, but it didn't pay off for me. *I received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This was a really interesting read! Felt like a blend of gothic, historical, and murder-mystery. It's about Agnes Ashford, an archivist who gets involved with the Byrant family and their secrets, including working down in tunnels filled with mysteries and past secrets the Byrants would rather stay hidden. The book has some pacing issues but that is likely due to the political aspects of the book not quite capturing my interest enough - others might really enjoy this section, in fact, especially as This was a really interesting read! Felt like a blend of gothic, historical, and murder-mystery. It's about Agnes Ashford, an archivist who gets involved with the Byrant family and their secrets, including working down in tunnels filled with mysteries and past secrets the Byrants would rather stay hidden. The book has some pacing issues but that is likely due to the political aspects of the book not quite capturing my interest enough - others might really enjoy this section, in fact, especially as it's very insightful. The family dynamics are tense and engaging enough for me to stay hooked amidst the political drama. The romance between Agnes and Lady Helen is dark and at times quite tense, but in a fantastically written way; it's layered and intelligent and I don't want to spoil anything but the build-up to the end is nicely done, and makes so much sense for their characters and relationship.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lauriane

    I’m really happy that NetGalley offered me the opportunity to read this book ! This was so cool: the historical context with the Bryant history was super nice. I just think that a little part ( around the middle ) is too fast so it’s very difficult to understand. Appart from that, the book is awesome.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tanya E

    The cover for Lying with Lions is simply breathtaking and drew me in immediately! This historical fiction was very entertaining. A bit of a mystery, a bit of a gothic feel. I thought this slow-burn story would focus more on the work that Agnes was employed to do but it actually was very different than I expected. The story definitely has an interesting plot. If you can stick with the slower-pace of the story, I think most readers of historical fiction will appreciate this tale.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ☆Pelumi☆ (On major hiatus)

    Historical lesbian fiction?? 2021 is all about the Sapphics!!!!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    J. Z. Kelley

    In the last 10% of Lying with Lions, the protagonist, Agnes Ashford, and her lover/patron, Lady Helen Bryant, are confronted with a terrible choice: either sacrifice Helen’s wealth and independence, or the crimes she and Agnes committed to protect it will be revealed to the public. Agnes feels torn between her survival instinct, her loyalty to Helen, and her conscience. Every scene raises the stakes until Agnes is driven into desperate action with real consequences. It’s a satisfying ending to An In the last 10% of Lying with Lions, the protagonist, Agnes Ashford, and her lover/patron, Lady Helen Bryant, are confronted with a terrible choice: either sacrifice Helen’s wealth and independence, or the crimes she and Agnes committed to protect it will be revealed to the public. Agnes feels torn between her survival instinct, her loyalty to Helen, and her conscience. Every scene raises the stakes until Agnes is driven into desperate action with real consequences. It’s a satisfying ending to Annabel Fielding’s turn-of-the-century gothic drama. Unfortunately, it also seems to belong to a different draft than the previous 90% of the novel. Read my full Lying with Lions review on my blog. Thanks to NetGalley for giving me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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