A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde

May 6, 2016 2016, B, book rating, Cloak & Dagger Mystery Reading Challenge, Goodreads, NetGalley, Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, New Release Challenge, Reading Challenges, reviews 2

a-useful-woman-darcie-wildeA Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde
Series: Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: England, 1817
Published by Berkley, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: May 3)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
368 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high society—including who among the ton is capable of murder…

The daughter of a baronet and minor heiress, Rosalind Thorne was nearly ruined after her father abandoned the family. To survive in the only world she knew, 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 artistocratic 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…

Initial impressions

  • A well-crafted and researched historical mystery with a great main character. A great start to a new series.

The story

  • Rosalind’s father was involved in shady financial dealings and abandons Rosalind and her mother during Rosalind’s season in London–which ends her season and marriage prospects abruptly.
  • Five years later Rosalind has carved out a place for herself in the society of Regency England. She’s “a useful woman.” She helps organize parties as well as managing problems for society women.
  • Rosalind is asked to help Honoria who is about to become engaged to a duke. This is a bitter pill for Rosalind since the duke is the young man Rosalind hoped to marry five years ago when he was a younger son.
  • Rosalind has helped Honoria in the past and neither of them like the other.
  • Then Rosalind discovers a body at Almack’s. The dead man is Honoria’s brother. Now that family needs even more help.
  • Rosalind doesn’t really want anything to do with all this, but she’s drawn into the mystery. And she discovers that many things in her life aren’t really the way she thought they were.

Pluses

  • By being useful Rosalind has kept a place in society. I admire that she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She’s had to get on with her life.
  • There’s a little romance in the book. It didn’t detract from the mystery though which I’m glad about. I don’t mind a romance, but when the book is mostly a mystery I want the mystery to be the strongest element.
  • The author does a great job bringing the Regency era alive for me.
  • The characters are well-drawn in this book–especially some of the women (Rosalind and Honoria in particular). I can understand the characters’ motivations even if at times I don’t like them.
  • I like that Rosalind understands she has grown and changed in the five years since she was a debutante. In this book, she also begins to question her place in society as well as other parts of life in this era.

Minuses

  • I hope this series isn’t going to have a love triangle. Those just don’t work for me.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  •  I really want to read the next book in the series. Rosalind is such a likeable, smart character and I want to read more about her.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Darcie Wilde writes her classically styled (not to mention stylish) mysteries as well as adventurous romances from a university town in a certain northern-midwestern state that has been known to bear some passing resemblance to a mitten.  When not writing, she’s reading, cooking, hiking, swimming, climbing things, raising her rapidly growing son and trying to convince her cat — Buffy the Vermin Slayer — not to do any further damage to the furniture.

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2 Responses to “A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde”

  1. Lark

    This sounds really interesting, Jan! I love the Regency period and would welcome a mystery series set during that era.I will have to seek this book out… though like you, I hope there won’t be a love triangle.