Rosalind Thorne (A Purely Private Matter, 2017, etc.) proves her acuity, her resourcefulness, and her general usefulness for a third time when she helps shield a member of the aristocracy from embarrassment.
Ever since her debt-ridden father abandoned his family when she was a teenager, Rosalind has made her own way in the world. Temporarily rejecting Devon Winterbourne’s proposal on the grounds that a woman in her reduced circumstances is no proper match for the future Duke of Casselmaine, she depends instead on the generosity of friends to sustain herself and her redoubtable housekeeper, Mrs. Kendricks, in their tiny but ferociously respectable household in Little Russell Street. In return for their largesse, Rosalind is willing to help even the most compromised of the haut ton avoid the scandals that would otherwise cost them their places in society. And few are more compromised than Lady Melbourne, who clings to her place atop Britain’s social ladder in spite of the rumor that her youngest son is actually the child of the Prince of Wales. But an affair between her daughter-in-law, Lady Caroline Lamb, and George Gordon, Lord Byron, threatens to dislodge her from her perch unless Rosalind can manage to retrieve a packet of letters from the tempestuous poet that has disappeared from Lady Melbourne’s study. She and Mrs. Kendricks repair to Melbourne House, and while they try to make sense of the dysfunction that surrounds them, Rosalind receives word from her good friend Adam Harkness of the Bow Street police that a woman whose body was delivered to him several days ago actually met her fate in the courtyard of that stately mansion. Solving both the theft and the murder puts Rosalind’s considerable intellect to the test, but she handles the double challenge with typical Regency aplomb.
Wilde’s heroine is not only a useful woman but a highly entertaining one.