A Study in Death
In this Lady Darby mystery set in 1831 Scotland, the widowed Kiera is painting the portrait of a young, beautiful society wife when the woman dies suddenly and painfully. Kiera believes it is murder, and sets out with the assistance of her fiancé, Mr. Sebastian Gage, to discover who did it. Meanwhile, Kiera’s sister, Alana, Lady Cromarty, is experiencing a difficult, dangerous pregnancy and may be having marriage problems. Kiera allows Alana to plan a more elaborate wedding than she wants for herself and Gage. This adds to the tension as Kiera and Gage’s love is tested by the strains of the murder investigation and by Gage’s continuing lack of communication with Kiera about his past. Kiera’s involvement with a hardened criminal will help her solve the case, but puts her and Gage on dangerous ground.
Kiera is a feisty, principled heroine, but her assertiveness and social values, especially regarding women’s issues, make her seem like a modern woman in 19th-century dress. She and Gage do remain chaste until their wedding night, and their charming struggles with frustration seem true to the times.
The mystery line is thin, with the final resolution difficult to understand given the clues that are provided. Still, the main characters are likeable, and this is a pleasant read, with enough hints at backstory and future perils to tempt readers to look for other books by this author.