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.
Romance Roundabout #154 HR
New to Me #64 series