Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!
I was hoping to share my ruminations about the third Countess of Harleigh novel with you today, however, the truth of it is I have been reading at a far slower pace recently due to having 3x migraines in 3 weeks and nearly succumbing to a fourth this past weekend. It takes quite a bit out of me to transition out of these more severe migraines (what I refer to as supernovas) and despite my earnest intentions to read on the schedules of my blog tours, sometimes I fall a bit short, which is why I’m going to be featuring a lovely Guest Post by Ms Freeman today and share my review with you about this delightful third novel during my latest #CrimeFicFridays review on the 21st which is the final day of the tour.
I should also mention, I originally was going to interview Ms Freeman about this latest release and tie it back together with the previous two installments as I had previously interviewed her during the first blog tour I hosted of hers wherein I discovered this most charmingly intriguing character and found a wicked new Cosy Historical Mystery series in which to love devouring! I loved this series so dearly much that I also had her as a guest author on my chat @SatBookChat!
However, after having a clustering of severe migraines I simply ran out of time to gather my thoughts and put forth a conversation which would honour the series. I was thankful Ms Freeman didn’t mind switching to a guest post and this topic was one of her choosing. When I read the essay I was quite charmed and think you will be too because it discusses the curious manners of ‘house parties’ and what was keenly interesting is how *structured!* and *regulated!* they were despite the illusion that it was a causal get together amongst friends!
I look forward to sharing more with you at the close of the week but for now, if this is your first introduction to the series, I hope it will whet a thirst of interest to begin reading the stories!
On why I love reading this series:
Rather immediately, I found myself drawn into the life of Frances – not just because her husband was a cad and a louse of a husband but because of how Ms Freeman endeared us to champion her cause as a woman exiting her mourning period and getting on with her life! It was quite horrid for women in the 19th Century – still attached to that tradition of wearing dearly depressing hues of black and grey (in different increments which were rather strictly enforced!) for at least a year after becoming widowed. It was only then, where she could ‘re-emerge’ into her colours and start to make her presence more widely known in society. How those women managed it, I’ll never know not – as in the case of Frances, it most have truly become a chore knowing her her husband departed his life! Oyy, vie such a rat!
Her in-laws were quite typical – only out for themselves, more concerned with the affairs relating to their estate and less enthused to even entertain a thought of concern over Frances. For her benefit, she was made of stronger stock than they would have believed and she took her daughter (Rose) and herself off to the city to carve out their future elsewhere from the throes of the Harleigh family and the responsibilities therein. Freeman gave you such a hearty and joyful introduction to her character – part of her antics reminded me of why I have such cheeky joy in reading the Anna Blanc series and part of the exchanges also reminded me of my recent over the Discreet Detective Agency – there is something to be said for well-timed satire and humour in the Cosy Historical Mysteries your reading! The appeal of course is being able to burst into giggles alongside the allure of moving deeper into the context of the building mystery!
Of course, not all is ill for Frances – she has enough resources within her means to purchase a least outright for a house which still has eighty years to be lived inside! Imagine? She might have sparse furnishings and staff but something told me her and Rose would thrive here rather than having stayed on with the relatives at the estate. One of my favourite moments is when she bribes one of the maids not to spoilt her news by giving her the chance to make haste and away with her once she moves out. It was a ploy to cover-up the fact she had a bit of a rebellious nature inside her to where she did not like to leave things to fate if there was a loophole round the unknown! Smartly written, Freeman keeps you entertained from one chapter to the next to where it is just a delight to overhear what Frances will say next and what her next actions might be which become the new concerns of the family she’s left behind!
As fate continued to give Frances more headaches than smiles, you had to give it to her – she chose to set her attitude on the positive and despite the arduous circumstances alighting towards her at an alarming speed of haste from her brother-in-law, Frances wouldn’t let her resolve falter. There was much more at stake than inconvenient delays in the normality of her life – no, she simply turnt her chin up with a strength she might not have entirely felt but one which would see her through with the kindness of her friends. This was another instance where you could see how lovely it was for her to have Fiona in her life – the kind of huckleberry friend everyone needs and is blessed to have found.
Part of the joy of reading this series are the layers of etiquette permeating into the fabric of the story-line – fitting for this debut of the series itself as it lends a certain view of the absurdity of tradition these lords and ladies were put through when their era was in its heyday! All the confining points of societal regulations and the fact, you couldn’t just remove yourself from the obligations as that would be lent to scandal and gossip; Freeman takes you through the motions of how frivolous the ton can be and how determined you must become to outwit them all the same! Frances shows this by her unwavering belief that if you lead with strength and a resolve to overcome whatever befalls you, society will either a) move on to the next lead story or b) forget you completely; which I felt was her preference. Frances wasn’t the kind who welcomed notoriety – quite the opposite, I believed she wanted to live a more ordinary life without all the pops and poms of the elevated class.
I was endeared to the plot long before I caught-on to the mysterious events happening in the background – for me, this series is wickedly driven by its characters – specifically everyone related into the personal orbit and sphere of Frances! You can’t help but feel caught inside her life – seeing how even the most ordinary of lives can suddenly become a feast of trouble yet with a sturdy circle of friends and family; any obstacle can surely become defeated! I must admit, by the time I unearthed the actual crime and the person behind it – I was quite somber! I hadn’t expected the villain in the story to be whom they were as I was expecting it be someone else completely! The way in which Freeman related those finer details of the whys and hows lead me to believe the rest of this series is going to be as charmingly cosy to read as its debut!
-quoted from my review of A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder
In Dianne Freeman’s charming Victorian-era mystery series, Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, finds her sister’s wedding threatened by a vow of vengeance.
London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.
But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.
As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll…
Places to find the book:
Published by Kensington Books
on 28th July, 2020
Format: Paperback ARC
The Countess of Harleigh Mysteries:
A Lady’s Guide to Gossip & Murder (book one) | see also review
A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette & Murder (book two) | see also review
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief & Murder (book three)
Converse via: #CosyMystery OR #Cosy #HistoricalMystery
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
For those on Scribd: Happily the first two audiobooks of this series are available!Read More