on March 14, 2018
1881, Sussex. Lady Helena Scott-De Quincyâ€™s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helenaâ€™s first love. After all, shouldnâ€™t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfill any aristocratic femaleâ€™s dreams? Such a shame their union wasnâ€™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 Helenaâ€™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 familyâ€™s past. Every family has its secretsâ€”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 siblingsâ€™ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortierâ€”who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earlâ€™s daughterâ€”play in her investigations?
I loved Helena.Â At the beginning of the book she has just been widowed for the second time although she is only in her early 20s.Â She is the youngest daughter in a large family.Â Because of that she has always been treated as a child.Â They even call her “Baby” although her brother is younger than her.Â
Helena is shocked by the death of her husband and is starting to get angry about the way her family has swooped in assuming that she is a problem that needs to be managed again.Â She declares that she is not going to be married off again.Â She is going to manage her own estate.Â She is not going to be pushed out of her own life any more.Â
Then her late husband’s doctor tells her that he doesn’t believe his death was accidental but that the other men on the inquiry panel ruled against him.Â Most of those men are related to her.Â What are they trying to hide?
There are several plot lines in this book.
- How did Helena’s husband actually die?
- Helena standing up for herself with her family
- A tenant farmer’s death
I enjoyed reading about Helena’s relationships with each of the people in her large family.Â She’s always accepted the surface version of things but now that she’s starting to dig deeper into her life, things aren’t always as she assumed.Â Her little brother is overbearing and too enamored of his status as the head of the family but he isn’t always wrong about what she should do with her life.Â Her mother and father may not have had the idyllic marriage that Helena imagined.Â There may be more to her free-spirited artist sister than she expects.Â All these relationships set up storylines that can continue into other books in the series.Â
The book dives into disability during this time period also.Â Helena’s mother is in the late stages of dementia.Â She has a full time nurse but the mental toll on family members and on Helena’s mother is discussed in ways appropriate to the time period.Â Helena’s brother reads as autistic.Â At this time, that wasn’t a described condition so he is mostly considered odd and sometimes offputting.Â But, his wife loves him and understands him and helps him interact with his family and the rest of the world.Â Helena has a physically disabled nephew who she loves but who is treated as feeble-minded by his parents even though he is not.Â She helps him learn to stand up for himself as she learns it for herself.
I’m not a fan of books where lay people investigate crimes unless the story sets up a good reason why the authorities can’t be involved.Â In this case the authorities of the area are all family members who may be involved.Â The doctor is French and may be a spy.Â You never know quite who you can trust.Â
I will definitely read the next book in this series.Â
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two eBooks of Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
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About the Author
Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.
Her long and undistinguished career has included a three-year stint as the English version of a Belgian aerospace magazine, an interesting interlude as an editor in a very large law firm, and several hectic years in real estate marketing at the height of the property boom. This tendency to switch directions every few years did nothing for her resume but gave her ample opportunity to sharpen her writing skills and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.
Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, March 12
Feature atÂ Passages to the Past
Tuesday, March 13
Feature atÂ To Read, Or Not to Read
Wednesday, March 14
Review atÂ Pursuing Stacie
Thursday, March 15
Feature atÂ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
Tuesday, March 20
Feature atÂ Donnaâ€™s Book Blog
Tuesday, March 27
Review atÂ View from the Birdhouse
Wednesday, March 28
Feature atÂ Susan Heim on Writing
Friday, March 30
Review atÂ History From a Womanâ€™s Perspective
Tuesday, April 3
Review atÂ Based on a True Story
Wednesday, April 4
Review atÂ SilverWood Sketches
Thursday, April 5
Feature atÂ A Bookaholic Swede
Thursday, April 12
Feature atÂ Teaser Addicts Book Blog
Friday, April 13
Tour Wrap Up atÂ Passages to the Past