*originally published 05/04/2016
A USEFUL WOMAN (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries: #1) Written by Darcie Wilde
2016; 384 Pages (Berkley)
Genre: historical, mystery, romance
(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)
Rosalind Thorne, a daughter of a baronet, is dreaming of her future with the man she loves when one night her mother and her return home early from a party. Her older sister is quickly packing and fleeing into the night. It seems her father is in financial trouble and has chosen to abandon his wife and youngest daughter to runaway. After her mother passes away, Rosalind must take on work to survive in 19th Century England. She gets a job managing the affairs of wealthy women and becomes known for her discretion.
Five years after Rosalind’s father had disappeared things are starting to settle down for her when she is summoned back into her godmother, Lady Blanchard’s life. When she goes to Almack’s to pick up her godmother for dinner, she discovers the body of Jasper Aimesworth – an aristocrat who’s sister, Honoria is to marry Rosalind’s almost fiance, Devon. Now Rosalind finds herself helping Honoria in her brother’s death, but also being around Devon. If she is not careful, Rosalind might be in danger herself before she can be outed from the Ton for good.
Until the murder of Jasper Aimesworth much of this novel reads like a historical romance. There is nothing wrong with a historical romance if that is how the novel is supposed to be marketed. From the synopsis you get the idea that this is a historical mystery with a dash of romance since it is set in Regency Era and has “Jane Austen-inspired” as a tag line. It takes awhile for this novel to start in general as we get a bit too much description of Regency days. The mystery and cast of characters are also latecomers. Once I let go of “historical mystery” I found myself enjoying the book more. A historical romance with a dash of mystery, for me, worked better. Wilde was trying to bring in a bit of Austen’s wit but it didn’t quite work at times. YET, I finished the novel and did like it. I am curious to see what Wilde has in store for book 2…as there is potential and hopefully a fun love interest.