All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Lady Detective by Ava January

on July 23, 2021

The Lady Detective
Ava January
Escape Publishing
2021, 200p
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/}: London’s lawbreakers and loathsome lords… beware!

How does a wealthy widow avoid the marriage market in 1890s London?

If you’re Lady Theodosia Fortescue-Brown, you hide behind outrageously bad clothing and glasses you don’t need.

After the disappearance of her husband, Theodosia can’t imagine giving up her freedom to marry again and relishes her role as detective to the ladies of the upper echelons of society.

When a priceless necklace on loan from the Royal family is stolen, Theodosia must work with the scandalous Lord Montague to recover it before the theft is discovered.

But somewhere between setting a brothel on fire, being knocked out in a cemetery in the middle of the night, and narrowly avoiding death via Scotch egg, Theodosia and William fall in love…

I really enjoyed this! It was a fun little historical mystery with some romance thrown in.

Lady Theodosia Fortescue-Brown had a less-than-desirable upbringing that was probably common to many young girls during this time, if their father’s were wastrels with a fondness for drink. She was beholden to him until he married her off to the son of their neighbour in a deal that netted him money. Although her husband was kind and treated her well, a real friend to her, theirs was not a romantic marriage. And then her husband went missing, leaving Theodosia at the mercy of her brother-in-law. He’s been very patient but he’s told her that he’s going to need her to vacate the house and that he’ll prepare the Dower residence for her.

This is not what Theodosia wants. She wants to stay in London. She’s developed a little bit of a reputation for herself as a lady detective. She has no wish to marry again and be subject to yet another man although her latest mystery involves searching for a priceless necklace belonging to the Royal Family and she finds the notorious Lord Montague invested in its return as well. He suggests working as a team but Theodosia runs her own race…..but despite declining his offer, she finds their paths crossing on a regular basis.

I loved Theodosia, I thought she was such an interesting character. She disguises a lot about herself, relying on unflattering clothes and glasses she doesn’t need so as not to attract the interest of men. She employs women who would have little chance of employment anywhere else. She’s bright and full of plans and plots and ideas when she’s investigating something and she’s also passionate about women’s welfare and their treatment. I also thought her alter-ego was hilarious.

Lord Montague’s reputation has preceded him and Theodosia is sure she can resist him. After all he’s just another very good looking rake, with the ability to ruin lives with zero consequence, right? But Montague is much more than good looking and the more time Theodosia spends with him, the more she realises that there is a lot more to him than meets the eye. She’s definitely forgetting her resolution not to be charmed and she understands how he might ruin a young debutante – and she’s no impressionable first season girl. But she still doesn’t want to ever be someone’s property again and that reluctance makes her wary to take a step forward with Montague that might lead her to happiness.

I loved Montague – he had this rakish reputation but I really enjoyed how he didn’t really fit that description and his interactions with Theodosia were fantastic. He’s also the more open one of the two of them, in terms of feelings and declarations but he also makes a bit of a mistake which someone is all too happy to inform Theodosia about and that drives a wedge between them and I felt like that conflict was well done. What he did played into Theodosia’s fears too but I felt like there were some extenuating circumstances – but Theodosia just wasn’t in the mindset to hear them.

There were some secondary characters in this book that I felt would make excellent main characters in their own stories, should the author choose to turn this into a bit of a series – especially the man who works for the Home Office and also the man that occasionally does some investigative work for Theodosia trying to find her husband. They didn’t get a lot of page time but the small amount they did was enough to sow some interesting seeds.


Book #125 of 2021

The Lady Detective is book #52 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2021

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