A Useful Woman: A Rosalind Thorne Mystery ll Blood in the ballroom

19:18 Cilla P 0 Comments

Title: A Useful Woman: A Rosalind Thorne Mystery 
Author: Darcie Wilde
Publisher: Berkley Paperback
Source: Edelweiss
Synopsis: First in the new Regency Mystery series inspired by the novels of Jane Austen.

After her baronet father abandoned the family, Rosalind Thorne was nearly ruined. To keep up appearances, she began to manage the affairs of some of London society’s most influential women, who have come to rely on her wit and discretion.

So, when aristocratic wastrel Jasper Aimesworth is found dead in London’s most exclusive ballroom, Almack’s, Rosalind must use her skills and connections to uncover the killer from a list of suspects that includes Almack’s powerful patronesses and her former suitor Devon Winterbourne, now Lord Casselmaine.

Torn between her old love and a growing attraction to a compelling Bow Street runner, Rosalind must not only unravel the mysteries surrounding Jasper’s death, but the mysteries of her own heart as well…

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A Useful Woman encompasses a lot of the things I love in fiction. Lady detective + a historical period + whodunnit = a very interested Cilla. As shown by my previous read in a similar niche, however, having all of these elements alone doesn't guarantee the book will be a new favourite. This time though, I fell in love.

The cast of characters are fabulous, though two in particular stand out to me. Rosalind Thorne is fascinating to read as she navigates the social conventions of the Regency era using the limited means in her disposal. She must carry herself with tact and reverence to others, but she's got steel. Her position in the peripheral of the haute ton (as the book would say) reminds me of Miss Marple; society kind of looks down upon her while still accepting her as their own, which puts her in an excellent position as a sleuth. Honoria is another complex character, whose attitude toward social conventions is refreshingly shocking.

The main men aren't as appealing to me here, not as characters but as love interests. Devon Winterbourne - the lost love - is intriguing but rather aggravating in his conduct throughout the book. Adam Harkness, the Bow Street runner, is far more dashing a character despite his lack of blue blood; the chemistry between him and Rosalind is instantly apparent, and yet I wish they hadn't acknowledged it quite so quickly. I like my romance slow-burn. Also, I'm wary of love triangles, but these characters hold my interest enough that I won't hold that too much against the book.

I adore the mystery. At one stage I felt there couldn't be enough pages to answer all of the questions Rosalind had, but the unfolding of the climax was well-paced. Toward the end, I was so hooked, I read the last hundred or so pages in one night. I loved that everything about the mystery was grounded in the dillemma of the period, from the priorities and habits of high society to the settings of each event. Admittedly I don't know the details of social norms in Regency era so don't ask me about minute accuracy, but generally I felt that Rosalind belonged in the same time period as Elizabeth Bennet.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book and will be keeping an eye out for another Rosalind Thorne mystery. I would recommend this to fans of Jane Austen who also enjoy a good whodunnit.

(I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. The expected on sale date is May 3, 2016.)

Let's talk!
Does this sound like a book you would read? What's your opinion on love triangles? Am I the only one who finds girl detectives so appealing?


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