A Lady in Disguise: Daughters of Hampshire

Written by Sandra Byrd
Review by Cindy Vallar

Bereft at the unexpected loss of her father in 1883, Gillian Young returns from his funeral to discover a London Metropolitan Police sergeant searching her house. Her father is under suspicion for associating with and profiting from criminals; he may have been murdered. Although afraid, Gillian is determined to prove his innocence. She discovers a photograph of a beautiful stranger and a letter from her deceased mother that reveal her intentions to donate Winton Park to the Cause, a Christian mission for the poor. Her father never mentioned the letter, and Gillian had assumed her grandfather’s home was now hers. She just doesn’t have sufficient funds to restore the house to its former splendor.

Further investigation must wait when Gillian is asked to design and sew costumes for a new production of Cinderella at the Theatre Royal. The prestigious assignment will make her name known throughout London, but she needs additional seamstresses, an older woman and two young girls from the theater mission dear to her mother’s heart.

A handsome viscount and a police inspector’s son begin to court her, but she questions their motives. Lord Lockwood shares her passion for the theater, but also wants to purchase Winton Park. A childhood friend, Francis Collingsworth may just be trying to find the evidence to prove her father’s guilt. The closer to the truth she gets, the greater the danger she encounters. She needs to trust someone, but whom?

Byrd deftly intertwines research with love and murder in this final book in the Daughters of Hampshire trilogy. She transports us back to Victorian England to view the startling differences between the world of the ton and the seamier sections of London. Her tantalizing web keeps us enthralled until the truth about the perpetrator and the romance are finally revealed.