Title: A Brazen Curiosity
Author: Lynn Messina
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Mystery
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Favourite Quote: ‘”I must congratulate you, Kesgrave, on not flinching when confronted with a fate worse than death. A lesser man would have tackled me to the ground to forestall the promised scream.”
He bowed his head in acknowledgement. “I’m delighted to discover you think there are men lesser than me, as your treatment would indicate that I’m in fact the bottom of the barrel. Tell me, Miss Hyde-Clare, why do you find my knowledge to be so objectionable? Would it be better if I pretended not to know things? Is ignorance suddenly in fashion?”
“I’m surprised you have to ask, your grace,” she said. “Isn’t ignorance always in fashion for ladies?”
Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare is an orphaned spinster living with her aunt and uncle, destined to be alone and unmarried. As each year passes, she finds herself becoming more uncomfortable in public situations and struggles to socialise in the most basic gatherings. It’s only when she stumbles across the beaten corpse of Mr. Otley in the library in the middle of the night with the frustratingly handsome Duke of Kesgrave standing over the body, that she finally finds her voice.
When she discovers that the Duke has lied to the household and local constable about the cause of death, she can’t help but feel responsible to find out the truth once and for all. Her secret investigation allows Bea to uncover distressing truths about her family acquaintances as well as uncovering parts of herself she previously confined within.
‘It was not fear that undermined her composure, but a growing understanding of the full horrors of the past hour. How brazen she had been, snuggling closer to look at the corpse, her mind calm and her nerves unruffled as she appraised the splatter of blood on the wall. And the way she had spoken to the duke, brashly and boldly, her thoughts clearly articulated without stammer or hesitation. She’d felt none of the intimidation, uncertainty or awe she usually experienced when in society. A murder scene was hardly society, but that just made her behaviour all the more remarkable, for surely the former was more likely to overwhelm the equanimity of an awkward young lady.’
I thoroughly enjoyed this series, yes I say ‘series’ because kindle unlimited allowed me access to all of them and I took advantage to read them all over a couple of days. My review is solely based on the first book with my personal recommendation to read them all if you enjoyed it, because they seriously do only get better with the slow burning romance between Bea and the Duke as well as the interesting murders that seem to show up at her door.
The book itself is told only from Beatrice’s point of view which brings more mystery to the story when exploring facts and evidence surrounding the death of Mr. Otley from her perspective. I really liked Bea’s character, she’s a lonely isolated 26 year old spinster with no future to think of, but when she begins to investigate the murder she stumbled upon in the library, she becomes increasingly confident in herself and allows her suppressed daring intelligence to come out to show the world what she is made of.
The perceptive private banters with the Duke only challenge her more in her conviction as well as hope that she is worthy of something better knowing she has more to offer than her current status in society. I enjoyed her witty sense of humour, even if it’s just based off her own inner dialogue, which there was more than enough of, from her desire to projectile various food at the Duke during dinner, to her subtle sarcasm towards her family.
‘”Now you are the one being frightfully suspicious, and I must agree it’s an unpleasant experience indeed when someone will not take you at your word. You are undoubtably a very fine upstanding duke, and I wish you all success with your very dangerous pursuit.”
“Miss Hyde-Clare!” he said, his shoulders stiff as he stood before her to impede her progress.
“No need to say it, your grace,” she said as she brushed past him toward the door. “I know you wish me success with my embroidery as well.”
“I know what you’re up too.”
Her hand on the doorknob, Bea turned to look at the duke, his handsome features pulled into a scowl, and raised a finger to her lips to shush him. “Remember, if anyone discovers I was here, you will be ruined. Think of your incandescent future with your incomparable wife and those impossibly perfect children.”
The Duke of Kesgrave was an interesting character, you weren’t sure whether you were supposed to love him or hate him at the beginning – typical Mr.Darcy-like love interest for an 1800’s setting, but as Bea continues to investigate, the Duke reveals his own incentive to discover the truth which brings a respected partnership neither of them expected. It’s the little things that make you warm up to him, the slight change in his composure when he compliments her or the way he becomes curious about what she has uncovered as he carefully watches her when she’s deep in thought. For a Duke with status and expectation, it was nice to see how he was able to laugh at himself, creating a carefree regard between them.
The plot itself was a nice refreshing murder mystery in a large countryside estate with plenty of twists and exciting turns as Bea and the Duke narrow down their large list of suspects whilst keeping up their indifferent standing amongst the guests. Each character is well written, enough to give you an insight to each of them to warrant them a suspect (or not), but not enough to unravel everything so quickly.
I particularly enjoyed aunt Vera and her shocked expressions when Bea became more vocal with her opinions in social gatherings and the way she often couldn’t distinguish proper etiquette with sarcasm.
I really like a good murder mystery, making my own guesses as to who could be the killer, I was honestly surprised by the outcome in this story, even though the reveal was slightly disappointing when the murderer was finally discovered.
The main characters are laced with subtle humour which will make you smile as they become bolder in their interactions with each other and those around them. It’s a real slow burning regency romance that will continue to grip you at the end of each book! Check out kindle unlimited for the next book; A Scandalous Deception.’
Twenty-six-year-old Beatrice Hyde-Clare is far too shy to investigate the suspicious death of a fellow guest in the Lake District. A spinster who lives on the sufferance of her relatives, she would certainly not presume to search the rooms of her host’s son and his friend looking for evidence. Reared in the twin virtues of deference and docility, she would absolutely never think to question the imperious Duke of Kesgrave about anything, let alone how he chose to represent the incident to the local constable.
And yet when she stumbles upon the bludgeoned corpse of poor Mr. Otley in the deserted library of the Skeffingtons’ country house, that’s exactly what she does.