Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review: A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman

Kerry Hammond is here with a review of an historical mystery by a new-to-her author.

The Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman was published on June 25, in Hardcover by Kensington. It is the second book in the historical Countess of Harleigh mystery series and a follow up to The Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder. This is the second book in the series, but the first I have read. I am a fan of historical mysteries and am always keen to try out new authors who write in that genre. I figured, if I can jump in at book two and not feel left out, that would be a testament to the author’s ability to write series installments that could function as standalone novels. I decided to put Freeman to the test, and spoiler alert, she passed.

Frances Wynn is an American born young widow and the Countess of Harleigh. She married Reggie, a man who turned out to be a cad and a philanderer, after a short courtship. Reggie is out of her life now, having died in the past year, and Frances is really coming into her own as a widow. She has gained independence and moved to London with her daughter. When her friend Mary Archer is murdered, she becomes embroiled in the case because she had attempted to set Mary up with her cousin Charles, who is now a suspect in the murder. She works with her friend and handsome neighbor, George Hazelton, to clear Charles’ name and get to the bottom of the murder.

There are books you devour because you can’t help yourself. You must read to find out what happens to the characters, who the murderer is. Then there are books that you are enjoying so much that you savor each page. You carry the book around with you but read in small bursts because you’re not ready for it to end—like taking small bites of your favorite chocolate bar to make it last. Much like a chocolate bar, when it’s gone it’s gone. So I savored this book, not wanting it to end too quickly.

If I had to choose, I would say that it was the characters that first drew me into the story. I loved the mystery too, but the characters really grabbed my attention; I immediately liked them and became invested in their exploits. Freeman does a great job of fleshing out their different personalities and pulling the reader in. I’m glad I jumped in at book two, since I now have book one to immediately look forward to. Let’s hope the author is working on the third installment.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

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