A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman

I was so excited to only just recently read the first book and therefore be able to have #2 give me some instant gratification by being available. I had hoped for a bit more of a  Marion Chesney’s  School for Manners vibe with the series set up at the end of book #1 (helping young American ladies through a London Season), but I still found this very satisfying. As before, the countess and her special friend, George, end up investigating a crime, in this case the unseemly murder of an acquaintance. Countess Harleigh’s independent household is filling up with women-in addition to her aunt, there is also her young sister, and the sister’s friend. All of the women pitch in with the mystery solving in some way, while also working on their own potential matches.
I can see this will be a reliably delightful light historical mystery series.

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A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

A perfect book to fall into my hands on summer vacation! Set in 1899, plenty of historical detail about society, London Seasons, gentleman’s clubs, calling cards, chaperones, rides in the park, servants, etc.  What was so enjoyable about this was that our heroine is a young widow (her husband was a philanderer) who has plenty of spunk and stands up for herself after the required year of mourning by purchasing her own home in London. Much to the dismay of her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, both of whom rely on her large purse to keep the family estate going. Conveniently, Frances is independently wealthy. And American. That’s right-she’s an American heiress who married a titled British man! Juicy. (If you haven’t read The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin, go do so.) This is actually a mystery-poor Frances is being set up all over the place, plus there are some robberies happening at the society homes. She takes on meddling and solving herself, along with the handsome next door neighbor.

I enjoyed this immensely and am THRILLED there is already a sequel available at my library and I love the direction this series is going in.

Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard

I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. Eden and Bonnie are bffs (in England, it’s British.) Bonnie is super studious and straight laced whereas Eden has been known to not be a model of good behavior. So everyone is shocked when Bonnie runs away with her secret boyfriend.  Eden is surprised but doesn’t think too too much about it. Until she finds out that it’s a matter of police interest because the secret boyfriend is a teacher from their school. Suddenly it’s a national news story and everyone is insisting that Eden must have known everything and that she should tell them the truth. What I found so interesting about this story is that it wasn’t at all just about the tawdry running away with the teacher story. It was really about Eden’s inner turmoil and sudden questioning of her relationship with Bonnie and even of her own family relationships and what kind of person she is, all because of this. If she and Bonnie really were so close why didn’t she know about this?
A good solid story.

*though really, even after reading lots of British books I still don’t get what these GSwhatever exams are.

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper

This title sucks you in, doesn’t it? And so did the story. I loved this premise of a man who had inadvertently gotten trapped in a somewhat elaborate ongoing lie. The people he works with-really, the only people he sees- all believe he has a wife and two children. But really he is single, alone, lonely. He does have online friends from a model train forum (I rather liked that their passion for this was shown as yes, a singular passion, but not really made fun of.) Stuck in this rut, things get shaken up when Peggy joins the office and for the first time he sees possibilities of being happy. And I really liked this emphasis throughout the story on the possibility of being happy. The possibility of being loved and loving. The possibility of change.
It’s British, which lent its own charm. And it’s also well written with some gentle humor and terrific lines. I can definitely see comparisons to A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant.

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

A feel good story featuring family history/secrets and a quirky librarian at the heart of it all. yes, please! I really enjoyed this story, even though I was a little fixated on exactly what her job was (professional hazard.) Also, I got a little fed up with just how much of a doormat she was. And how unapologetic her sister was. I get that she was that way because of the family history and terrible backstory but I did get a bit frustrated. That said, I loved the tracking down and unraveling of the “mystery” of the found book.

Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

You know what? This was delightful. Can you imagine sharing an apartment with someone that’s a 1 bedroom and the agreement is you get the evening and overnight hours and he has the daytime (due to work schedules this is possible.) ? Sharing apartments isn’t weird, but the whole setup that they’ll never meet and they are sleeping in the same bed.  Of course you know they’ll end up meeting and falling for each other, but that’s ok. I was glad that happened sooner rather than later and it turned out to have a weightier plot than you might expect, centering on her stalkerish ex-boyfriend.
I also enjoyed the guy’s subplot of helping out the seniors in the assisted living where he worked.

Solid and enjoyable.

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen

I’m startled to see that this is #12 in the series because I’m fairly certain I haven’t read twelve Her Royal Spynesses. I guess that means that I can always go back and have more to read-it certainly doesn’t make you unable to follow what’s going on. I love this series so much. It’s mystery the way I like it-light and British and historical. And, although I consider these light and fun books, Bowen’s historical detail is wonderful.
In this latest installment Lady Georgiana is finally (FINALLY) about to be married to Darcy, having received approval to renounce her right to the throne (because honestly, if she were to be queen a crazy plague would have had to wipe out at least 35 members of the royal family.) I was getting a bit annoyed with how drawn out this was, so was glad it was finally about to happen.
I enjoyed this one very much, in part because I enjoyed seeing Lady Georgiana finally get bold and assert herself in various areas of her life (that nasty Fig! those terrible servants flaunting her instructions! even Darcy!)
As usual she is able to pick up on all sorts of clues that something is not quite right and bravely investigate and put pieces together.
Tremendously enjoyable