Genre: Historical Mystery
Publication Date: November 24th, 2020
Pages: 352, hardcover
Fans of Jane Austen have fallen in love with Darcie Wilde’s mystery series featuring Rosalind Thorne, a young woman adept at helping ladies of the ton navigate the darker corners of Regency England–while revealing Society’s most shocking secrets…
Rosalind is pleased when she’s invited to Cassel House to help her friend, Louisa, prepare for her upcoming wedding. But that’s not the only event on her agenda. The trip will also afford Rosalind the chance to see Devon Winterbourne, the newly minted Duke of Casselmaine. Devon and Rosalind were on the verge of betrothal before the infamous Thorne family scandal derailed their courtship. Now Rosalind wonders if there’s a chance their love might reignite.
Devon is as handsome as Rosalind remembers and it’s clear the attraction they once shared hasn’t waned. But their time together is interrupted by one crisis after another–not the least of which is an awkwardly timed request for help from Louisa’s friend, Helen Corbyn.
Not long ago, the untimely death of Helen’s brother, William, was ruled a suicide, but few people truly believe he took his own life. Helen needs to know what really happened–especially since she’s engaged to the man some suspect of secretly killing William.
While Rosalind desperately wants to help, she fears her efforts might cast a pall over Louisa’s nuptials, not to mention her reunion with Devon. But when another untimely death rocks the ton, Rosalind has no choice but to uncover the truth before more people die…even if her actions threaten her future with Devon.
NOTE: There are spoilers for the book in this review!
The second half of A Lady Compromised was better than the first half, where Wilde purposely sidelines Rosalind in order to show that she doesn’t quite fit in with the setting. Because of this sidelining, the POV switches multiple times in several chapters, causing Rosalind to feel like a secondary player in her own story. This gets resolved almost half way through and things go better from there, but the first half was a struggle to get through.
A lot of characters are involved in the mystery of A Lady Compromised, to the point where I had trouble keeping track of a few and their relation to each other. It felt a little too spread out, and while I realize you need multiple red herrings for your mystery novel, something about the number of characters here was just a bit too much. Wilde brings up a lot of different moving parts and doesn’t quite successfully juggle all of them. For instance, there’s one point where Devon’s mother implies that Devon killed his brother to Rosalind, and in Rosalind’s next chapter, when she sees Devon, she makes no internal mention of it at all. Why bring that up and then not even have Rosalind make a small mention of it immediately afterward? Maybe it was to show that she trusted Devon too much to buy into his mother’s suspicion, but it still seemed odd.
I also question the resolution of the mystery. It felt too neat. Devon had the coroner falsify the death record by saying the victim died by accident, when Devon believes he died by suicide, to save the family the grief. This isn’t brought up in the rushed final chapter which details the trial. Was it not brought up? Did the coroner stick to the accident story when that would have put his reputation on the line? There’s no mention of it at all in the end, so I suppose it was just ignored.
Still, I enjoy the way Wilde is able to incorporate all the little details of manners that everyone has to follow in high society and never make it seem like an info-dump or have it slow down the pace of a scene. I always feel a little constrained when I read these books because Wilde is great at showing how constrained life was for everyone, but especially women, in Regency England. I still love the characters in this novel, and I still adore this series. A Lady Compromised simply wasn’t my favorite of the series.