Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Bride's Guide to Marriage and Murder by Dianne Freeman
Series: Countess of Harleigh Mystery #5
Published by Kensington Books on June 28, 2022
Genres: Historical Romance, Mystery
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Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, returns in Dianne Freeman’s charming, lighthearted mystery series set in Victorian England, and finds her wedding day overshadowed by murder . . .
On the eve of her marriage to George Hazelton, Frances has a great deal more on her mind than flowers and seating arrangements. The Connors and the Doyles, two families of American robber barons, have taken up residence in London, and their bitter rivalry is spilling over into the highest social circles. At the request of her brother, Alonzo, who is quite taken with Miss Madeline Connor, Frances has invited the Connor family to her wedding. Meanwhile, Frances’s mother has invited Mr. Doyle, and Frances fears the wedding may end up being newspaper-worthy for all the wrong reasons.
On the day itself, Frances is relieved to note that Madeline’s father is not among the guests assembled at the church. The reason for his absence, however, turns out to be most unfortunate: Mr. Connor is found murdered in his home. More shocking still, Alonzo is caught at the scene, holding the murder weapon.
Powerful and ruthless, Connor appears to have amassed a wealth of enemies alongside his fortune. Frances and George agree to put their wedding trip on hold to try and clear Alonzo’s name. But there are secrets to sift through, not just in the Doyle and Connor families, but also in their own. And with a killer determined to evade discovery at any cost—even if it means taking another life—Frances’s first days as a newlywed will be perilous indeed . .
The wedding of her dreams has turned into a nightmare and the honeymoon is spent in an investigation to clear her brother of murder. Engaging historical cozy mystery romp from new to me author and series.
A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder is the fifth book in the series and, could be read out of order, as I just proved. That said, I had such a good time and was curious about the backstory so I definitely want to go back and get the earlier books in order.
As I mentioned, A Bride’s Guide offered enough of a background that I had no trouble slipping into the latest story. Frances is a widowed countess. She was an American heiress and her mother arranged her marriage to an English aristocrat to get her a title. That marriage only produced one good thing, her daughter. Now, Frances is marrying George for love- and the fun of solving cases with him.
George Hazelton is a sometimes London lawyer as his front, but his true work is working clandestine cases for the Crown. He and Frances began their relationship solving mysteries, but fell in love. George adores her daughter and her, and could care less that she was an heiress- though her original dowry was nearly frittered away by her first husband.
Now, just when their marriage and honeymoon are to happen, her mother has invited the Bainbridges and her brother asked her to invite the Connors because he’s interested in Madeline Connor. And, so they have two rival American business families at the wedding. Naturally, one has to turn up dead, but startlingly Frances’ brother Alonzo is the one found standing over the body holding the murder weapon. Honeymoon postponed; sleuthing begins.
This was right up my alley. I can’t believe what I’ve missed. The author’s writing style is light and entertaining without being fluffy. The characters are colorful and often amusing particularly Frances’ own family. Frances and her mother cracked me up the way they brushed against each other. Frances and George were a sweet couple, but a fun detecting pair.
The victim was hated by many and had a few brands in the fire to give many suspects and motives for them to investigate. I was so taken with the characters and their interactions that I didn’t give much effort to solving it, but I only had a few suspicions that proved right without an ultimate solution. There are also the mystery revelations from the family that capture the interest.
The time period is 1900 London and I enjoyed the author’s attention to detail so I could picture the historical backdrop and the characters acting accordingly. It was a little different in that several of the characters were American and wealthy business families instead of British aristocracy or gentleman class.
All in all, this was a great dip into the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series and I am looking forward to going back to the beginning. It was amusing, entertaining, and a fun cozy-style historical mystery.
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