Thursday, August 31, 2017

REVIEW | A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde

A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #1
Awards: None
Format: Audio (from Audible)
Narrator: Sarah Nichols

WHY?: It was on sale at Audible, I love historical mysteries and the Regency era is one of my favorite time periods, primarily because of Our Lady, Jane and all the romances inspired by her that are set in this era.

SYNOPSIS:  Rosalind Thorne is a useful woman in Regency Society.  While no longer considered part of the Haute Ton, she has managed to hold on to enough of her respectability, after a scandal, to be able to support herself by advising and doing small favors and jobs for the society ladies.  Her life suddenly gets more complicated when she finds a corpse in the famous ballroom of Almack's and her help is solicited in finding out what happened.  


I was really chuffed to stumble upon this book on Audible, the first in a new historical mystery series.  The Regency time period is always fun to visit and I was especially excited that this series featured a woman detective.  I was interested to see how Wilde would manage this, given how hemmed in by society's rules women of this time were.  I think ultimately she manages it pretty well primarily by opening up Regency society to include what we would now call the middle class but then is probably more accurately termed the working class.  This is a class of mostly educated men and women who perform work that is above the blue collar and servant classes but they must work and earn a living unlike the gentry.  

When we meet Rosalind Thorne she is a genteel and wealthy young lady, not noble but high enough to have achieved an Almack's invitation. She's met a boy of similar station and fallen in love and all seems right with the world.  Then disaster strikes within her family and the book skips ahead a few years.  With the fall in Rosalind's prospects, she lost her beau and her family, but she has landed on her feet in a pretty unique way.  She was taken under the wing of a relatively influential society lady who kept her afloat until she'd made herself, with her good sense and taste, an indispensable asset to many of the ladies of the Ton.  It's quite unique to see an independent, spinster lady during this time period and I'm unsure just how realistic this was but the scenario is plausible.  

Rosalind is a fine protagonist, if a tad on the vanilla and boring side.  I like that she's pretty independent and believably brave about tracking down a murderer (i.e. she's not foolishly reckless but she doesn't back down).  She has two love interests in the book, one of which I clearly prefer but both of which pose interesting relationship conundrums.  One represents her past and the other the woman she is evolving into.   It's a pretty decent set-up for a fairly low key love triangle.

The story itself is okay.  Wilde does get a little too bogged down sometimes in the minutiae of Regency custom and life but I generally dig that stuff so it didn't bother me much. However, if you're looking for a cracking, page turner of a mystery this isn't going to ring that bell.  The mystery story isn't inconsequential but it won't win any awards for inventiveness or suspense.  

I liked the book and I intend to read on in the series though I won't obsessive about it.  Rosalind is an engaging enough protagonist and has great potential as a character. I'm also pretty interested in how her romance works out. 

It's been a few weeks since I listened to the book and I don't really remember the narrator which is generally a good thing.  She was fine and a good pick for this type of book. 

FINAL VERDICT: This is a perfectly fine and low key historical mystery with a dash of romance set in one of my favorite time periods to read about; Regency England.  I'll be picking up the sequels.  3 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment