Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Lady Compromised by Darcie Wilde
Series: Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #4
Published by Kensington Books on November 24, 2020
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rosalind is pleased when she's invited to Cassel House to help her friend, Louisa, prepare for her upcoming wedding. But that's not the only event on her agenda. The trip will also afford Rosalind the chance to see Devon Winterbourne, the newly minted Duke of Casselmaine. Devon and Rosalind were on the verge of betrothal before the infamous Thorne family scandal derailed their courtship. Now Rosalind wonders if there's a chance their love might reignite.
Devon is as handsome as Rosalind remembers and it's clear the attraction they once shared hasn't waned. But their time together is interrupted by one crisis after another--not the least of which is an awkwardly timed request for help from Louisa's friend, Helen Corbyn.
Not long ago, the untimely death of Helen's brother, William, was ruled a suicide, but few people truly believe he took his own life. Helen needs to know what really happened--especially since she's engaged to the man some suspect of secretly killing William.
While Rosalind desperately wants to help, she fears her efforts might cast a pall over Louisa's nuptials, not to mention her reunion with Devon. But when another untimely death rocks the ton, Rosalind has no choice but to uncover the truth before more people die...even if her actions threaten her future with Devon.
The stakes have grown high indeed when Rosalind is invited by Devon to his ducal estate and she will help with the wedding nuptials for a ducal cousin, but the mysteries around a local man’s death intrude and Devon seems to have been caught up in the affair.
This is the fourth in the Rosalind Thorne Mysteries series of historical mysteries that offer standalone mysteries, but a connected series arc for the regular characters.
A Lady Compromised takes Rosalind out of her comfortable Regency London setting to the countryside. She is there to spend time with Devon so they can sort out the possibility of a second chance, but her cover is helping his cousin with her wedding preparations. Meanwhile, Louisa presents her friend Helen, who is still unsettled about her oldest brother’s death, and the suspicion that the truth was buried with him because he was unstable after returning from war.
I love this series for the way the heroine’s family falling from grace placed her in the interesting position of being society’s fixer and an amateur detective. Rosalind is outside the norm, but still conforms to her historical social setting and is hampered by the way forensics, facts, and the law worked back then. The author puts a great deal of authenticity into the background and setting as well as each book’s focus. There is no stinting on developing the characters, either.
From the first book, there has been something of a romance triangle with Rosalind, Devon who is now a duke though was once her childhood love, and an intrepid Bow Street Runner who helps her solve the mysteries. It is more than choosing one of the men- or neither for that matter. It is also choosing her status so I get the need for thinking things through carefully. With Devon, she re-enters the aristocratic world she held before her father’s fall and the family sharing his disgrace, but with Adam, she would join the lower classes since he works as a policeman. At four books in, the situation is more distraction for me and I’m impatient for her to make a choice. Both men are wonderful and supportive and I hate to see them dangling though neither are really pressuring her. In truth, I wish the romance side wasn’t there if it’s going to drag on without a decision. That said, I think (because I’m not sure the way they were wording things) that she did eliminate one fellow at the very end.
The mystery was clever, but also obvious. There were a few surprises and some side villainy going on that kept me in the story. Rosalind first had to figure out if there even was foul play, let alone how and why.
This historical part of the story was well-balanced with the mystery. I liked learning about the canal work, draining the fens to create more farmland, country life, and country society. War and the ravages it has on those who came back and also families was a huge element. And, as usual, focus on women’s’ situations and limited choices were also highlighted.
In summary, I was impatient with the romance-side, was fascinated by the historical backdrop, and found the mystery rather satisfying. I look forward to what comes next especially the way an old enemy is still scheming against her. Those who enjoy strong, intelligent female detectives in a historical mystery should give this series a try.
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