A Purely Private Matter
Rosalind Thorne Mystery, Book #2
By Darcie Wilde
Author Website: darciewilderomance.com
Rosalind Thorne has slowly but assuredly gained a reputation as “a useful woman”—by helping respectable women out of some less-than-respectable predicaments.
Her latest endeavor is a tragedy waiting to happen. Desperate Margaretta Seymore is with child—and her husband is receiving poisoned pen letters that imply that her condition is the result of an affair with the notorious actor Fletcher Cavendish. Margaretta asks Rosalind to find out who is behind the scurrilous letters. But before she can make any progress, Cavendish is found dead, stabbed through the heart.
Suddenly, Rosalind is plunged into the middle of one of the most sensational murder trials London has ever seen, and her client’s husband is the prime suspect. With the help of the charming Bow Street runner Adam Harkness, she must drop the curtain on this fatal drama before any more lives are ruined. (Goodreads)
A Purely Private Matter is an entertaining study in the lengths to which people will go in the name of greed to get what they think they are entitled to and to keep secrets. Full of intrigue and great storytelling, this series holds a firm place on my “must read” list.
In this installment, Rosalind, who is making a name for herself as a “useful woman” or someone who helps society women solve their more delicate problems, is hired by a friend of a friend to find out who is writing damaging anonymous letters to her husband. Margaretta Seymore has been friends with famous actor Fletcher Cavendish for many years, but because of these letters her husband Captain William Seymore is now convinced that the pair has been having an affair and that the child Margaretta carries is not his own. Unfortunately, Fletcher is found dead, stabbed in the heart, before Rosalind can get very far in her investigations. When William is quickly arrested for the crime, Rosalind feels time is of the essence to find the real perpetrator – even if all clues seem to lead to Margaretta.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it delves into the everyday lives of both the ton and more modest folk. I enjoy the scenes set at the Bow Street station and the bowls of the Theatre Royal just as much as those in the morning rooms of the affluent. The multi-layered mystery unfolds at a steady pace, woven amidst these varied settings. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, Ms. Wilde would reveal a twist that had me reconsidering. All of the different threads come together for a satisfying resolution. There is a small subplot concerning Rosalind’s long absent sister Charlotte. It is nice to know a little more about her, but I feel the bit concerning her is rushed. If there is anything to not like about the book it is the dreaded love triangle. Up until now, Rosalind and Devon, Lord Casselman, have played a form of cat and mouse based on their past relationship. Bow Street runner Adam and Rosalind have danced around their feelings for each other. Both relationships have progressed in an organic way thus far, but I do hope that Ms. Wilde resolves the triangle sooner rather than later.
Rosalind makes a fine protagonist. She is intelligent, level headed, ingenious, and a young woman of integrity. She is first and foremost intent on finding the truth and justice, sometimes without regard to how it will affect her social standing. Adam is my favorite character; his honesty and sense of justice are his finest qualities. His awkwardness, even if only portrayed in his mind, around Rosalind is endearing. The characters central to this book, mostly the Seymore family, are all well drawn and interesting. William’s younger brother and his wife are particularly well developed and are ever so easy to dislike. Fletcher is oily and too charming for his own good, but I can see why he had so many devoted fans. And speaking of fans, one of the most delightful scenes in the book involves Devon’s cousin Louisa, in full fan girl mode, decked out in full mourning and wilting in the heat. Also of note is the handwriting analyst Miss Onslow. I would greatly like to see her again.
A Purely Private Matter is sure to please readers who enjoy historical mysteries, especially the Regency period in England. It is smart and compelling. I do hope that there will be many more books in this series. I impatiently look forward to my next adventure with Rosalind.