Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A USEFUL WOMAN by Darcie Wilde

Publisher:     Berkley
Published:     May 3, 2016     
ISBN:        978-0425282373
Genre:      Historical Mystery
Format:     Print
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina  Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com


After her father ran out on her mother and herself due to his financial machinations, Rosalind Thorne has had to rely, as it were, on the kindness of others.  Former friends and peers now engage her as a secretary or facilitator for their activities out and about in the ton. With her mother’s passing Rosalind is all the more alone except for being taken under godmother’s wing.  With the little season upon them Rosalind accompanies her godmother, Lady Blanchard, to the famed Almacks where the patronesses, of which Lady Blanchard is one, are meeting.  While there Rosalind cannot help herself and in a moment she wishes to glimpse her former life by looking in at the ballroom.  What she finds is not the gay atmosphere of her youth.  Rather she finds a body…the body of an old family friend, Jasper Aimesworth. In the confusing and terrifying moments after she finds the body, Lady Blanchard mumbles a cryptic comment about a mysterious “he”. 

In the aftermath of Jasper’s death the elite of the town close ranks.  So much so that her former beau, Devon Winterbourne seems even more distant.  In short order Rosalind believes that not only is Devon but her grandmother are lying to her.  Determined to find who killed Jasper and at the same time protect her godmother, Rosalind is drawn deeper and deeper into a mystery surrounding Almacks.  In the midst of her dilemma she comes under the watchful eye of Bow Street Runner, Adam Harkness.  That there is an attraction to Adam is not something Rosalind can deny for very long.  Walking a fine line between her old class and new Rosalind finds herself in the killer’s sites.  Will that line lead the killer to her?

It’s been awhile since I read a historical mystery and in reading Darcie Wilde’s A Useful Woman I was quickly reminded about why I enjoy them so much.  While I wouldn’t necessarily live in that time, there are parts of it I find attractive.  The clothing, the visiting, the glamor of Almacks and even though it would drive me a little crazy, the way the men took care of their women.  Okay, it would drive me a lot crazy, but there is something about it that takes you away from here and now—and isn’t that why some of us read historical fiction?

Wilde weaves a wonderful story, taking her readers deeper and deeper into the mystery of not only who killed Jasper, but of what the upper echelon of society is hiding behind their gentility. 

I really liked Rosalind.  Within the constraints of her time and against her upbringing she strives for her own brand of independence.  She is intelligent, loyal and determined. 

I wasn’t too keen about Devon at first, but when seen through Rosalind’s eyes and how she acknowledges he is a product of his time as much as she, he became likeable.  Wilde brings the changes they both go through to her readers as part of solving the mystery.  I certainly didn’t see the ending coming which is always a treat when reading a mystery.  I’m looking forward to the next entry in this fun new series.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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