A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder (A Countess of Harleigh Mystery)

Written by Dianne Freeman
Review by India Edghill

Wedding preparations are extravagant and stressful enough in late Victorian London—especially when one is the American widow of an English earl—without a strange woman showing up claiming to be married to one’s fiancé. But Frances, Lady Harleigh, not only loves but implicitly trusts her soon-to-be-husband, George Hazelton; Frances’s reaction is to investigate and learn the truth.

The trail of the truth leads into a labyrinth of past royal scandals, and present murder. The clues, some of them quite bizarre, lead Frances to suspects uncomfortably close to the British royal family—and to her own. But the clever and indomitable Frances refuses to let anything stop her in her efforts to prove George’s innocence, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable the truth turns out to be.

This mystery has a well-drawn setting and enough quirky twists to intrigue and content the reader. And the characters are people it’s enjoyable to spend time with. Frances’s identity as an American married into the British aristocracy (and as a strong-minded, intelligent woman) provides an interesting view into the Victorian upper crust’s stratified culture. I really enjoy this series, and do hope it continues after Frances marries George!