Title: Lady Odelia’s Secret (Scott-De Quincy Mysteries #2)
Author: Jane Steen
Published on: 7 March 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction | Historical Mystery
It’s been almost a year since Lady Helena Whitcombe lost her husband. Childless and the only remaining owner of the Whitcombe house, Lady Helena is in two minds – should she marry again and break the bond of ‘yours forever’ with her late husband Justin? Or, should she find love again, settle down and have a child or two? She knows she has a sparkling chemistry with a physician named Armand Fortier.
Lady Odelia, Lady Helena’s older sister, is at Littleberry to spend some time with her family. Helena is the sixth child of the Scott-De Quincy family. Her three sisters remain unmarried and this becomes a talk of the house quite often than expected. After their father’s death, the eldest son was to look after his younger siblings – including setting aside allowances for his unmarried sisters.
Lady Odelia finds the drawing room of Whitcombe house dull and wants Lady Helena to commission a series of paintings from her friend and renowned artist Sir Geraint Dorrian-Knowles. She invites her sister to stay with her for a few days in London as soon as her one year of mourning is complete. Lady Helena readily agrees although she is not sure if she wants her favorite childhood story – The Nightingale – to be displayed as a series of paintings in the Whitcombe’s drawing room.
The first few days in London passes peacefully for Lady Helena and her maid Gutrridge. But one morning, the lady’s maid has some news for Lady Helena – Lady Odelia is not at home. None of the servants know here whereabouts. Then, Lady Helena learn of a tragedy at the house of the Dorrian-Knowles. When she reaches the house, she discovers a well-kept secret. Her loyalties are torn between supporting family and keeping the family name intact.
I read the first book of this series in 2018 – I was a newbie book blogger back then. It was very sweet of Jane Steen to think of me and send me a copy of Lady Odelia’s Secret. I had enjoyed reading Lady Helena Investigates and was eagerly looking forward to knowing what’s next for our amateur sleuth Lady Helena.
Lady Odelia’s Secrets is the perfect combination of family secrets and scandals, the fantasy world of art and artists, and mystery. Not to forget, a dash of romance makes the read extra charming.
As I have already written a detailed synopsis of what to expect from the book, I would like to jump onto the ‘technicalities’ (as I like to call it) that make this book a wonderful and engrossing read.
First is the setting. Late 1880s and two venues – London and rural England. London is described as ‘always covered in soot.’ This got me thinking – I am a fan of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes and the series depicts the life in London perfectly – soot, carriages, horse dung, hay strewn everywhere… Hmm, as someone with a very sensitive nose, I wonder how stinky it would have been, especially with the horse poo-poo and all that. Okay, I admit I have an overly imaginative mind. Let’s carry on with the review now, shall we?
Next, we have the romance that makes even a aromatic person go ‘aww.’ Just a dash of romance but quite sufficient for a moment of ‘fluttering of heart’ and ‘heat rising in the cheek.’ *wink wink* Lady Helena is a widow in mourning but she feels herself attracted to a handsome French physician named Armand Fortier. Fortier’s sister and Lady Helena are friends and on one of their meetings, Lady Helena learns of Fortier’s feelings for her. As the story continues, Lady Helena learns about the Fortier family history and looks like, there is hope for finding love again. Well, at least, I hope something works out between the two.
Finally, we have Jane Steen’s marvelous storytelling. I am in awe, I tell you. As I was reading through, it felt as if there was a movie playing in my head. Excellent character portrayal and excellent depiction of family secrets, life in aristocratic families and the fantasy world of the artists. The only niggle I had with the story was the mystery behind the threats (cannot say much about this and make this review a spoiler.) Though, the mystery itself was interesting, I felt it lacked the element of suspense.
If you like character-driven historical fiction with a dash of romance, you might want to give Jane Steen’s Lady Odelia’s Secret a try.
Many thanks to Jane Steen for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.