A Victorian lady’s sense of self-worth is much improved when she takes control of her life.
Frances Price, Countess of Harleigh, is making a bold attempt to gain some independence. Frances, the daughter of a wealthy American family, did not marry for love, but her husband, Reggie, loved and freely spent her money while she cared for their daughter, Rose. A year ago, Alicia Stoke-Whitney came to Frances’ room to announce that Reggie had died in her bed. To avoid scandal, Frances asked George Hazelton, her best friend Fiona’s brother, to help move his body. Since then, despite opposition from Reggie’s brother, Graham, and his wife, Delia, who badly need Frances’ money, she’s rented a house in London. Frances is startled to discover that her neighbor is George Hazelton and further shaken by a visit from Inspector Delaney of the Metropolitan Police, who’s investigating a rumor that her husband did not die of a heart attack. Her next surprise is the arrival of her sister Lily with her Aunt Hetty, who’s taking the place of her mother—a welcome relief—while Frances launches Lily in society. She also gets a check for a hefty sum she badly needs because Graham has gone to court to get her money and her account has been frozen until the case is decided. Frances’ social circle is already buzzing over a series of robberies at fashionable parties and balls. When someone dumps a valuable bracelet in her reticule at the Stoke-Whitney ball, she enlists the help of Hazelton, who has reasons of his own to find the thief. As she worries about the investigation of Reggie’s death and vets her sister’s suitors, all of whom had opportunities to steal the valuables, she learns more and more about Hazelton while fighting her strong feelings of attraction toward him. A murder in her garden just adds to her problems, and now she must find the strength to overcome them.
Despite its heroine’s many problems, this lighthearted debut tale of mystery, love, and a delightful sleuth will leave you wanting more—which is presumably just what Freeman has in mind.