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The Gilded Shroud (Lady Fan Mystery Book 1) Kindle Edition
"The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell" by Robert Dugoni
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While it was verbally acknowledged that the heroine was unconventional for the time period, everybody loved her unconventional manner and skills. Everyone cooperated with her, so solving the mystery was just a matter of asking the right questions of the right people in order to discover the full picture of what happened.
The characters were interesting and enjoyable. There wasn't much suspense since there were no barriers to the investigation, a lack of danger to anyone (at least, that they knew), and even the romance was a matter of slowly growing to admire the other person and acknowledging that at the end. Despite that, the pacing never felt slow to me. It was a relaxing read, which can be very nice.
Interesting, vivid historical details about everyday life and the wider political events were woven into the story and brought it alive in my imagination.
There was a minor amount of explicit bad language that modern readers might be offended by. There were no sex scenes, though sex was vaguely referred to throughout the story. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.
I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
"The Gilded Shroud" is an excellent, fast-paced novel. The reader is given a sense of the period in history in which the book is set through descriptions of dress and customs of the times as opposed to long, plodding passages that would have slowed down the pace of the book. For example, comments are made regarding Randal's unusually strong feelings of concern over the safety of aristocrats in France. This gives the reader information about the timeframe of the book, as well as a clue to Randal's disappearance, without detracting from the flow of the story.
The book is filled with intriguing characters and strong women in spite of the Georgian England setting. Ottilia and The Dowager are both extremely likeable and when they join forces with Lord Francis, I was involved in the story and rooting for them to solve the mystery. Sometimes the investigation seemed to go a little too well. For example, I find it strange the authorities, especially during this time in history, would listen to Ottilia and her theories so readily. However, this is a small criticism of a wonderful and well-written book. Descriptive language such as "...she was a flighty piece with a butterfly mind" puts you into the period as well as entertains.
While the mystery is centered on Randal, he doesn't appear very frequently in the book. We get descriptions of his life, but not from his point of view. Although it seems he may have been falsely accused of an atrocious crime, he doesn't come across as a sympathetic character. Taking cues from the fact that the majority of the employees in his household are very loyal to him, I assumed Randal must have good qualities, but I just don't connect with his character.
On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the other characters in the novel. My favorites are Ottilia and Lord Francis, and I was behind them all the way while they searched for the truth about Emily's murder and became friends along the way. While Lord Francis' sister Harriet is somewhat flighty and a bit of a drama queen, she is also an appealing supporting character in the book. While she is more conventional than Ottilia or the Dowager, she isn't predictable or boring, and adds positively to the story.
"The Gilded Shroud" is a perfect blend of mystery and romance. While the romance remains chaste in keeping with the times, the story is still extremely romantic as well as passionate. If you are looking for something with the historical flavor of Victoria Thompson's Gaslight Mystery series or the period romance of Georgette Heyer, you will want to move this new novel by Elizabeth Bailey to the top of your reading list. Having read the debut, this is a new series I will be making a point to follow.
This review was originally written for the "Season for Romance" E-Zine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.