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The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies – Alison Goodman

The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies – Alison Goodman

Miss A, who works in a book store, told me all of the ‘Old Ladies’ were buying this book and she thought I might like it. She was right.

Here’s the blurb …

A high society amateur detective at the heart of Regency London uses her wits and invisibility as an ‘old maid’ to protect other women in a new and fiercely feminist historical mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Alison Goodman.

Lady Augusta Colebrook, “Gus,” is determinedly unmarried, bored by society life, and tired of being dismissed at the age of forty-two. She and her twin sister, Julia, who is grieving her dead betrothed, need a distraction. One soon presents to rescue their friend’s goddaughter, Caroline, from her violent husband.

The sisters set out to Caroline’s country estate with a plan, but their carriage is accosted by a highwayman. In the scuffle, Gus accidentally shoots and injures the ruffian, only to discover he is Lord Evan Belford, an acquaintance from their past who was charged with murder and exiled to Australia twenty years ago. What follows is a high adventure full of danger, clever improvisation, heart-racing near misses, and a little help from a revived and rather charming Lord Evan.

Back in London, Gus can’t stop thinking about her unlikely (not to mention handsome) comrade-in-arms. She is convinced Lord Evan was falsely accused of murder, and she is going to prove it. She persuades Julia to join her in a quest to help Lord Evan, and others in need—society be damned! And so begins the beguiling secret life and adventures of the Colebrook twins.

This is part regency romance and part action and adventure. Our heroines Augusta and Julia are mature – 42 (no less), which I think is a good thing. Think of the novels of Georgette Heyer mixed with an adventure story (where things don’t always go to plan) and along the way we learn some history – most of it quite awful (the virgin cure? mental asylums for women – locked up because their guardians (husbands, brothers, fathers) found them annoying). Our hero, Lord Evan, is on the run after returning to England before completing his sentence for killing someone in a duel (I am sure there will be more about that in a later novel). The way they all meet is brilliant, but no spoilers here. The language is very heyeresque and the world building (creating regency England) is well done.

This is a fun, fast-paced romp.

A review

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