I’m delighted to be co-hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen and to share my review of this engaging historical mystery. Lady Helena Investigates is the first in a new series, the suitably aristocratic sounding Scott-De Quincey Mysteries. The author describes the series as blending family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance. Ticks a lot of boxes for me there!
Visit the tour page to view the other great bloggers taking part in the tour and, for US residents only, to enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of two ecopies of Lady Helena Investigates. Don’t hang about though as the giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on 13th April 2018.
About the Book
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 fulfil 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 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?
Format: ebook (359 pp.) Publisher: Aspidistra Press
Published: 14th March 2018 Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Find Lady Helena Investigates on Goodreads
“I wonder – do we ever really know other people? Even those you see daily can have hidden lives.”
The book’s opening chapters provide helpful scene setting as recent tragic events in Lady Helena’s life are revealed and the reader is introduced to her extensive family. The death of her husband has turned Lady Helena’s life upside down. As well as the loss of a dearly-loved companion, as a widow her horizons are now severely constrained by the expectations of society. Not just expected to wear sombre mourning clothes for a year and a day but to remain in seclusion from society. To make matters worse, her brother is trying to persuade her to let him take control of the management of her estate and pressing her to consider marrying again as soon as the period of mourning is done. Still struggling to deal with her grief, Lady Helena also knows that to marry again, given the current law of the land, will have momentous consequences for her. ‘For the day I put my hand into a man’s – out of love, out of loneliness, or simply to please my family – the property that had once been Justin’s and was now mine, and the lives of those who had worked for us, would pass into the keeping of my new husband.’
Lady Helena’s interest in herbalism, inherited from her mother the Dowager Countess, now sadly losing her wits, is looked on with disdain by her brother and some of her sisters. For a woman in Lady Helena’s position, a husband, house and children is expected to be enough. However, Lady Helena’s studies play a part in revealing the true circumstances of her husband’s death. As events unfold, it transpires that the mystery of Sir Justin’s death is as nothing compared with the secrets within Lady Helena’s own family history.
French physician, Armand Fortier makes an engaging and amiable partner for Lady Helena in her investigations – very amiable, in fact. Not that he doesn’t have his own secrets it appears. However, it has to be said that external events and chance play a significant role in the resolution of the mystery, as Lady Helena is honest enough to admit. “Do you realize,” I said after a long stretch of silence, “that the truth has come to light with very little investigative effort on my part? This isn’t how it happens in novels.” [Love that the author allows herself that little joke.]
The enactment of an inconsequential sounding but actually quite significant piece of legislation offers Lady Helena the prospect of more control over her own future, allowing the author to adeptly set up events for the next book in the series.
I really enjoyed Lady Helena Investigates – a lovely example of a light, entertaining historical mystery. I received a review copy courtesy of the author and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in return for an honest and unbiased review.
In three words: Lively, engaging, mystery
Try something similar…Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey (click here to read my review)
About the Author
Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets. Her long and undistinguished career has included a three-year stint as the English version of a Belgian aerospace magazine, an interesting interlude as an editor in a very large law firm, and several hectic years in real estate marketing at the height of the property boom. This tendency to switch directions every few years did nothing for her resume but gave her ample opportunity to sharpen her writing skills and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.
Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters.
Connect with Jane