Saturday, September 21, 2019

Book Review: Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen

Lady Helena Investigates
Author: Jane Steen
Series: Book One of the Scott-DeQuincy Mysteries
Publication: Aspidistra Press (March 14, 2018)

Description: A reluctant lady sleuth finds she’s investigating her own family.

Step into Lady Helena Whitcombe’s world with the first novel in a series that will blend family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance in seven unputdownable investigations.

1881, Sussex. Lady Helena Scott-De Quincy’s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helena’s first love. After all, shouldn’t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfill any aristocratic female’s dreams? Such a shame their union wasn’t blessed by children . . . but Lady Helena is content with her quiet country life until Sir Justin is found dead in the river overlooked by their grand baroque mansion.

The intrusion of attractive, mysterious French physician Armand Fortier, with his meddling theory of murder, into Lady Helena’s first weeks of mourning is bad enough. But with her initial ineffective efforts at investigation and her attempts to revive her long-abandoned interest in herbalism comes the realization that she may have been mistaken about her own family’s past. Every family has its secrets—but as this absorbing series will reveal, the Scott-De Quincy family has more than most.

Can Lady Helena survive bereavement the second time around? Can she stand up to her six siblings’ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortier—who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earl’s daughter—play in her investigations?

My Thoughts: The first Scott-DeQuincy mystery stars Lady Helena. She is the youngest of six daughters and the sixth of seven children. Only her brother Michael who is the current Earl of Broadmere is younger.

The story begins with the death of Lady Helena's husband. Sir Justin Whitcombe was a near neighbor and a gentleman farmer. Most believe that his death by drowning was an accident caused when he went into a river to rescue one of his sheep. Only French doctor Armand Fortier is unconvinced that the death was an accident. Fortier is a new arrival in the area and a somewhat controversial figure.

This is the second great loss that Helena has had to face. When she was sixteen, she lost her first sweetheart to some sort of accident. That plunged her into a state of withdrawal and depression that lingered for some years. Justin was much older than Helena but she turned to him when her own father died. They had a happy marriage unfortunately not blessed by children.

Lady Helena is trying to deal with her grief and with the interference of most of her siblings. Michael who seems to be somewhere on the autism spectrum can't understand why she won't turn over all of her farming interests to him to manage and he is also assuming that she will soon remarry. In fact, most of her sisters are pushing for a quick remarriage as, in their opinion, a woman can't be fulfilled outside of marriage.

Lady Helena has revived an old interest in herbs which she had shared with her mother until her own tragedy derailed it. Now, her mother who was a noted herbalist is suffering from dementia or maybe madness and Lady Helena uses her mother's own journals to revive her own interest in herbology and to learn about the mother she is losing.

The story was an engaging look at a time period quite different than our own when the rich landowners still felt a sense of noblesse oblige for those who worked for them and lived on their lands. It was a time when aristocratic women has few rights or responsibilities outside their homes and class roles were set in stone.

I loved watching Lady Helena grow and learn to stand up for herself. I loved the beginnings of the romance with Monsieur Fortier. I thought it ended perfectly with the passage of the Married Women's Property Act of 1882. I look forward to more books about this family and set in this time period.

Favorite Quote:
"There's no such thing as a settled life, begging your ladyship's pardon. We're always moving in some direction. You can't move back, so you must move forward."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


  1. This sounds like an interesting series that I might be interested in reading.

  2. Sounds good. Definitely setting and era is my choice too.

  3. When does the next novel come out I loved the first one.


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