The Gilded Shroud

Written by Elizabeth Bailey
Review by Monica E. Spence

The screams of the maid announce the discovery of the strangled body of Emily, Marchioness of Polbrook, in the early hours of the morning. Lord Frances Fanshaw, the brother-in-law of the murdered woman, needs to keep the horrifying incident from being made public, and prove his brother, the missing marquis, did not commit the crime.

It falls to Ottilia Draycott, the widowed companion of the dowager marchioness, to root out the criminal. With her probing questions and reticent manner, Ottilia exhibits a fine intellect with the ability to discover the who, why, and how of the murder. Francis cannot help but be attracted to Ottilia, and vice versa, and they discover more interests in common than murder.

Beautiful writing and gorgeous language that immerse the reader in the period highlight this romantic mystery. The problem: we don’t know which period. Up until page 55, where the Revolution in France is discussed, we have no timeframe. There is no description of the costumes (think: panniers), hairstyles (think: wigs or powdered hair) or historical background (think: who’s ruling Great Britain?) to clue in the reader. Instead of a Regency, I discovered this was a Georgian novel. The cover blurb should not be the way to anchor a time period in a historical.