Lady Petra Forsyth has decided she shall never marry…and announces it to the ton. This is a shocking proclamation in Regency London, but Petra’s beloved fiancé has died and she has chosen to remain single. She is independently wealthy and sees no need to cede her personal freedom or her money to anyone else. Neither does she choose to remain in seclusion at her country estate, but plans to enjoy society in London.
Petra learns a friend Gwen has died and when she begins to ask questions, she’s told Gwen suffered from “melancholia” and was under the care of a come-lately doctor. Her staff was fired and she was removed to an asylum. Petra becomes suspicious when she encounters one of Gwen’s former footmen and he tells her he’s seen Gwen…alive and in London.
As the mystery unfolds and it appears more women who have disappeared have been under the care of the same doctor, Petra discovers Gwen is indeed alive, but the footman is murdered before he can give Petra any more information. It seems men of status are paying the doctor to free themselves of troublesome women in their lives.
This first in a Regency-era mystery series is a great start. There are multi-faceted characters, a challenging threat to our protagonist, high stakes for Petra and a hint of romance.