A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde #Review

A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde #ReviewA Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde

Series: #1 Rosalind Thorne
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Berkley on May 3, 2016
Pages: 365
Format: eARC
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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This book was an all-around fabulous surprise.  It did the job of setting up a new series, offering up a cunning mystery plot, challenging characters, and the history came alive in this one.  It was one of those books where I started it late at night with the whole ‘I’ll just read one or two chapters’ chestnut and ended up finishing half in one sitting.  And then the next day, I was in a feverish need to get back to the story.  Was this some exciting pulse-pounding thriller?  Nope, but it was straight up good stuff for the historical romantic suspense lover.  And this was just the beginning to the ongoing series.

The book opens with Rosalind Thorne’s lovely fairytale like life coming to a shattering end and then picks up a few years later when this lady with a spine of steal has picked up the pieces and has gone on with her life forging something new.  Once a member of the cream of society and headed toward her own happy and easy life, now she is looked on warily by most as on the fringe, but regarded highly as the woman who can be of the most use.  Rosalind lives hand to mouth and only by her wit and the help of her few friends does she get by.

Things take an interesting turn when suddenly she is drawn into an intrigue to help her godmother one of the esteemed Patronesses of Almack’s, encounters the man she thought once would be hers set to marry her worst enemy in society, and also called upon by that same antagonistic woman to solve her brother’s murder.  Rosalind reluctantly agrees to help discover the truth and even more reluctantly chooses to partner with a Bow Street Runner.  Meanwhile, her godmother’s husband and her former love interest try to warn her away from her quest and she is caught up in feelings of attraction to two different men.  As she follows the trail of the murderer, Rosalind is no longer sure of anything.

I loved how this book did a great job of not only setting up the world of this series, but also some ongoing character and relationship plots while delivering a nice teaser of a mystery.  Rosalind is a great heroine and I loved having both her and Harker and a few other minor characters narrating the story.  Rosalind has been through so much, but she refuses to give in and quit.  People try to shame her and force her to feel bad for her family’s tarnished rep and her own reduced circumstances, but she keeps her chin up and doesn’t let it beat her.  Seeing her vulnerable and yet also indomitable moved me powerfully.  I get the feeling that there is so much more to come after this introductory book to the series.

The mystery’s solution didn’t elude me for the whole story, but it was of sufficient challenge that I could appreciate it.  I loved being along with Rosalind and Harker as they worked the case.  Harker is working class and Rose is a lady so the class distinctions added a bit of something to how they had to divvy up detecting responsibilities.

There are also a gaggle of fantastic secondary characters that I hope to encounter frequently in this series.  I love how they span the gamut of society and types of relationships with each other.  So colorful and interesting.

And the historical backdrop was proof that the author did her homework and the world of the story felt authentic from how society behaved toward someone like Rosalind, the significance of Almack’s and the Season, the pursuits of the upper level of Society along with the situation of the working class and the poor.  Customs, fashions, dialogue, activities, all was done well.

So, in summary, I can enthusiastically push this one at anyone who loves historical settings for their romantic suspense, strong heroines, and lots of colorful characters to support her.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #154 HR
New to Me #64 series

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I love a great story where the history comes alive!!! Its pretty vital in a historical. Glad you loved this one so much.

    • Yes, I was happily surprised by how much detail enhanced the story. I’ve never had a description of Almack’s or the ladies who run it done so well.

  • Vesper Meikle

    I really enjoyed this as well

    • You’re probably as impatient as I am for the next book, right Vesper? 🙂

  • I’d read this for sure 🙂

  • Oh I want this!! I’ve been on a mystery binge and I don’t have enough historical ones to give me variety. I’ll hunt this book down! lol

    • Well worth snagging for your mystery binge. 🙂

  • I’m sure people who like this genre will enjoy this book.

    • Oh yeah, me, too. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a while.

  • I had no idea that this was a HR/RS when I saw it a few months ago. I was leaning towards cozy mystery/noir when I saw the cover. I’ll have to keep an eye out on Overdrive for this one.

    • Actually, you weren’t wrong. I could see this being described as a historical cozy mystery because the romance is only being set up at this point.
      Hope you get the chance to snag it, Lekeisha!

  • Ooo I enjoyed one of hers but never picked another up. Sounds like this was a great one. I love those that have great secondary characters.

    • I read a couple of her books a few years back and then this one caught my attention. Just hadta! 🙂 Oh yes, I really hope those other characters are all around for the next book in the series.

  • Wow, nice! Gotta love when it causes that ‘one more chapter’ impulse.

    • Oh yeah, this one was a sneak attack. I was expecting to like it, but not to keep reading page after page eagerly. 🙂

  • I have never read this author but now you have me very intrigued. So is this going to be a private eye type series but of the historical type? This does sound good! And the cover is so different for a historical- I like it 🙂

    • I think so. I got the impression that she will help the policeman solve crimes because she is part of high society that would snub him and he knows police work and the lower classes so they’ll work together.
      It sure looks promising to me. I love historicals and mysteries together.