Author: Jane Steen
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery & Suspense
Publisher: Aspidistra Books
Release Date: 2018
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A reluctant lady sleuth finds she’s investigating her own family.
Step into Lady Helena Whitcombe’s world with the first novel in a series that will blend family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance in seven unputdownable investigations.
1881, Sussex. Lady Helena Scott-De Quincy’s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helena’s first love. After all, shouldn’t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfill any aristocratic female’s dreams? Such a shame their union wasn’t blessed by children . . . but Lady Helena is content with her quiet country life until Sir Justin is found dead in the river overlooked by their grand baroque mansion.
The intrusion of attractive, mysterious French physician Armand Fortier, with his meddling theory of murder, into Lady Helena’s first weeks of mourning is bad enough. But with her initial ineffective efforts at investigation and her attempts to revive her long-abandoned interest in herbalism comes the realization that she may have been mistaken about her own family’s past. Every family has its secrets—but as this absorbing series will reveal, the Scott-De Quincy family has more than most.
Can Lady Helena survive bereavement the second time around? Can she stand up to her six siblings’ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortier—who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earl’s daughter—play in her investigations?
My Review: Lady Helena is a wealthy widow. Yet, her brother wants her to remarry. However, Lady Helena does not want to remarry but live a life free from societal expectations. When she learns that her husband was murdered, Lady Helena stumbled upon dark family secrets. Can Lady Helena find the truth about her family and live the life she wants?
With the title Lady Helena Investigates, I assumed that Lady Helena would be an active character and conduct investigations. However, Lady Helena is a really passive character. She is barely given any personality and all the surrounding characters were more fascinating than she was. I find it hard to believe she was a grieving widow because she seemed to be more upset about the death of her first love and only married her husband solely for convenience. Also, her husband was recently dead yet she falls quickly in love with her husband’s French physician. This seems very unrealistic for someone who is supposedly grieving. All the answers in the mystery come easily to Lady Helena. She does not do any investigating. They puzzle clues fall easily into her lap. Therefore, the title was very misleading.
Overall, this novel is about family, societal expectations, and freedom. I found the supporting characters, especially her family, to be very interesting. They are all given a personality trait that it is easy to tell her large family apart. The drawbacks to this novel was that it was very slow moving and often repetitive. There were also some uncomfortable scenes in this story. The mystery also had some loose ends. Still, this novel does show the circumstances of a very wealthy Victorian widow. I am very curious to pick up Lady Odelia’s Secret. I recommend this to fans of Andrea Penrose, Anna Lee Huber, and Tasha Alexander!
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars