When I see books with any mention of “Bridgerton-like’ in the summary or taglines, I am at once skeptical and yet can’t pass up on said book based on hope of finding another wonderful series that is indeed like Bridgerton! I often get asked what books would I recommend for Bridgerton fans, and that is such a hard question because there are so many historical romances out there that have a Bridgerton feel but aren’t necessaitly Bridgerton like if that makes sense. So sometimes when I see this statement on books, I become skeptical because there is nothing like Bridgerton but yet like so many others I can’t resist finding then next Bridgerton like book to fall in love with.
That’s how this book came to be on my review radar. It was described as “… the first novel in a new historical mystery series perfect anyone who loves the secret identity intrigue and swoon-worthy romance of Bridgerton“. So naturally I couldn’t resist even though I was skeptical. The idea of a new murder mystery series with a hot romance even if it didn’t quite live up to the Bridgerton claim, intrigued me enough that there was no way that I would pass on this!
I am a huge fan of historical mysteries and romances and any time that the two cross over is a win-win for me. I am always on the look out for new lady detectives and sleuth series to dive into. There are so many good ones out there—-Veronica Speedwell, Lady Darby, Lady Sherlock—and new female detectives are hitting shelves everyday so when I saw this was a debut and a new series, I knew it must be worth checking out if it had already been acknowledged as an upcoming series rather than just a standalone.
When one of her readers asks for advice following a suspected murder, Victorian countess Amelia Amesbury, who secretly pens the popular Lady Agony column, has no choice but to investigate in this first book in a charming new historical mystery series.
Amelia Amesbury–widow, mother, and countess–has a secret. Amelia writes for a London penny paper, doling out advice on fashion, relationships, and manners under the pen name Lady Agony. But when a lady’s maid writes Amelia to ask for advice when she believes her mistress has been murdered–and then ends up a victim herself–Amelia is determined to solve the case.
With the help of her best friend and a handsome marquis, Amelia begins to piece together the puzzle, but as each new thread of inquiry ends with a different suspect, the investigation grows ever more daunting. From London’s docks and ballrooms to grand country houses, Amelia tracks a killer, putting her reputation–and her life–on the line. (Summary from Goodreads)
Right off the bat, I have to say that while I was worried that this book was going to piggy back on the success of Bridgerton, it did hold true to the billing by providing a swoon worthy Bridgerton-esque romance. The romance in this book was delightful to read and I loved that Amelia was a widow who was essentially now a single parent. While she was still young and only married for a short period of time, she didn’t come across as this virginal debutant that is so often the case in historical romances (and mysteries with a romantic element). She felt more womanly and in my opinion more interesting. The chemistry between Amelia and Simon was indeed worthy for fans of Bridgerton who are hoping to capture that same heat, attraction, tension, and chemistry that the series is known for. While this book is ultimately a murder mystery, I thought it did a nice job adding in the element of romance and gave readers a couple they could cheer on and invest in.
I also really liked how the book was structured with the self help advice feature in the paper. It felt different and I loved reading the column at the beginning of the chapters. I thought this was a nice way to break up the story and keep readers engaged and invested, plus mindful of there the story began and where it was going. It also really gave the modern reader a glimpse into the Victorian era and all the restrictions of class and gender that was a hallmark of the age. For history fans, I think they will enjoy this unexpected aspect of the story. I know I certainly enjoyed it more than I was anticipating. And I thought it was a cleaver way to introduce the murder mystery to readers. Overall this book felt very balanced in the areas of romance, history, and mystery. I didn’t feel like it leaned harder in any direction and I feel like there is plenty of room within the upcoming series for things to grow and mature all around.
So have I indeed found a new ‘lady detective’ series to enjoy? Indeed I have. I think this series shows promise and a lot of room for growth. I think the author, though new, has a talent for writing strong characters with interesting back stories and a delightful mystery, plus the romance didn’t eclipse the mystery but left enough interest to keep readers invested in the budding romance. The author has written a strong independent woman in Amelia and I think that readers will enjoy her and be eager for more in this series, I know I certainly am! I will say I do hope the heat in the romance it turned up a bit in future books though!
Book Info and Rating
Format 320 pages, Paperback
Expected publication March 28, 2023 by Berkley Books
ISBN 9780593548769 (ISBN10: 0593548760)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical mystery