A LADY'S GUIDE TO GOSSIP AND MURDER by Dianne Freeman
The Second Countess of Harleigh Mystery
While most of the aristocracy has left for their country estates Frances, the Countess of Harleigh, is content to stay in London. Her home is actually bustling as Aunt Hetty is helping her brother-in-law make sense of his investments, Lily is preparing for her wedding, and sweet, but socially awkward and clumsy, Lottie has come to visit from America. Frances herself has been occupied with a bit of matchmaking. When Frances introduced her cousin Charles to Mary Archer, she thought the two would make a good match. Surprised when Charles told her they didn't suit, she is absolutely stunned to learn that Mary was murdered! Even more alarming are notes with all manner of gossip found hidden in Mary's house. With a keen investigative mind Frances joins her friend and neighbor George Hazelton in sorting through the gossip, and proving her cousin innocent of murder!
The second Countess of Harleigh Mystery is a fantastic addition to the series. I loved every minute of it, from the multilayered characters to the well plotted mystery. This historical mystery has a modern sensibility. It engages readers with contemporary themes and ideas while remaining true to its time period with wonderful Victorian detail.
The independent nature of the women here is admirable, especially as seen in the Victorian era. Even those women living the traditional "suitable" roles have minds of their own. There are no simpering misses or mistresses here! While I quite liked Lily in the first book in the series I was a bit taken aback by her behavior here. I fear Lily is on her way to becoming a Victorian Bridezilla! While I value Frances's independent nature and understand her need to be on her own I absolutely love how the relationship between Frances and George is developing. I admit the last lines of the novel had me grinning.
A LADY'S GUIDE TO GOSSIP AND MURDER is a delightful novel filled with charming characters and a perplexing mystery.