Dianne Freeman

Books: Mystery | Historical

A Countess of Harleigh Mystery: A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder (2018), A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder (2019), A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder (2020), A Fiancée's Guide to First Wives and Murder (2021), A Bride's Guide to Marriage and Murder (2022), A Newlywed's Guide to Fortune and Murder (2023)

Countess of Harleigh Mysteries

A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder (2018)

A Ladys Guide to Etiquette and MurderSet in England in 1899

Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, is finally done with her mourning and is more than ready to move on with her life.

When her husband died a year ago, he managed to be an even bigger problem in his death than he was in his life, with with him dying in the bed of one of their house guests.

But now, her husband's family doesn't want her–and her money– to leave.

"And how clever of you to have your own money."

I chuckled. "The credit goes to my father. He set up this account although the Wynn family resented it at the time. They were rather offended at the idea of a wife having independent means— not the English way, you know."

This was a well-done story, managing to avoid most of the issues I have with historical mysteries–namely the main characters being good at everything and the ridiculous action movie ending.

Instead she is (mostly) sensible and reasonable.

"I fear you're not concerned enough about yourself. You should take the advice you gave your sister and go to the country."

I shook my head. "You're mistaken, Inspector. I'm quite aware I'm in the eye of this storm, at least for the moment. I don't want to jeopardize their safety by going with them."

I did take occasional umbrage with the language, however.

This is a question for Delaney, so that should be one of our action items.

I'll be honest, that made me want to punch something.

But for the most part she did an excellent job creating a character who was naive about the right things, and properly worldly about others.

"(Y)ou cannot mean you snuck into another man's house without his knowledge or permission. Surely it's a crime to do so."

"In most cases, I believe it is, which is why it's imperative one not be caught."

That was about perfect.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Publisher: Kensington Books

January 2021 | Rating: 7.5/10

A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder (2019)

A Ladys Guide to Gossip and MurderSet in London in 1899.

I have officially decided this series is delightful.

I leaned toward her as we walked out. "Very well done, dear. But a ranch in Brooklyn? What were you thinking?"

She released a merry laugh. "That he'd never trouble himself to discover the truth."

Frances may still be in half mourning for her sister-in-law, but when Graham decides it would be best for his sons if they didn't observe full mourning, Frances easily agrees (especially considering the events of the previous book). But when her acquaintance–and the woman her cousin Charles was wooing–is murdered, Frances is drawn into another mystery.

Now, there are some issues with the story.

"Do women really keep secrets that well?" Delaney spoke as if he were wondering aloud. "She must have confided in someone, and that person let it slip to someone else, and so on, and so on. Wouldn't all of society know by now?"

My spine stiffened at this. "Women most certainly do keep secrets."

OK. But, when asked to work on a secret project that she can't tell anyone else about, she ends up bringing her ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD into it. So I'm not sure that she has any right to be offended. And to be honest, that's not an issue with the story as much as with how Frances views her actions.

Aside from that, the mystery was interesting, and once again, there was no Hollywood ending! She does NOT save the day!

You have NO IDEA how happy this makes me.

Publisher: Kensington Books

January 2021 | Rating: 8.5/10

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder (2020)

A Ladys Guide to Mischief and MurderSet in England in 1899.

Frances, Countess of Harleigh, was thinking she might be able to relax a bit, however her sister and her fiancee insist their wedding be moved up, so Frances is suddenly off to the country, to turn her betrothed's shooting party into a wedding party.

And the first issue right out of the station is Leo's sisters.

Though they had their differences, they had seemed well-mannered and got on as well as any two sisters might. I now suspected that amity was due to the presence of their parents.

As with the first two books, the story makes it clear that with the aristocracy, marriages were fiscal or political arrangements, and infidelity was often assumed–even sometimes expected. Which is one of the reasons Frances wanted her sister to take her time finding a husband and getting married. She didn't want Lily caught in the same marital trap she herself was.

I definitely enjoy the banter between Frances and George.

"I confess I had no idea what you were trying to tell me. Fortunately, your sister did."

"I shall have to brush up on my skills," he said with a sigh. "Or we could devise signals."

I widened my eyes. "Or we could just speak to each other?"

"Well, if you insist on taking the easy route."

And as with the previous books, the mystery was well done as well. So I shall be per-ordering the next book in the series.

Publisher: Kensington Books

January 2021 | Rating: 8/10

A Fiancée's Guide to First Wives and Murder (2021)

A Fiancees Guide to First Wives and MurderSet in England in 1899

Frances is looking quite forward to marrying George Hazleton. She successfully launched her sister, and things were looking up–until a young Frenchwoman is brought to Frances' house, claiming to be George's wife.

She's also asked to help launch ALicia Stoke-Whitney's daughter, as Alicia herself is being sent to the country, after news of her latest affair got out (her husband didn't care she had an affair, only that she wasn't discreet).

His wife didn't have to be above reproach, but she must give the appearance of it. He was a stickler for appearances.

But the scandal of George already being married might not let that happen either.

"That's no more than I'd expect to hear from you, ma'am, but do you have any evidence?"

I blinked. "Do you have any evidence to the contrary?"

"No, but rumors don't work that way."

These are fun mysteries.

"Both of you are taking this far too personally," he said.

Hetty and I first turned to one another, then back to George before attacking him in unison.

"How do you suggest we take it?" I asked.

"It feels quite personal to me," Hetty agreed.

One of the things I particularly like is that Frances doesn't take risks or do stupid things. She is perfectly amenable to staying someplace safe while others go after the criminals.

Unfortunately for her, criminals don't seem care about her wariness.

I enjoyed this and look forward to the next book in the series.

Publisher: Kensington Books

August 2021 | Rating: 8/10

A Bride's Guide to Marriage and Murder (2022)

A Brides Guide to Marriage and MurderSet in London in 1900.

I've been picking up books, then putting them down, and noe and Murder and it was precisely what I was in the mood to read.

It's a cozy mystery. This is book five. Main character is getting married. There is a murder. But despite all the ridiculousness of those things piled together, everything comes together and it's simply an immersible and fun story.

"Then please be so good as to stay very still."

He removed the lens cover and focused on the watch in his hand, holding one finger in the air. I wished I'd thought to ask him how long we were to remain still as my nose truly wanted a scratch.

"Has Mr. Hazelton returned home?"

"He has and he awaits you in your bedchamber."

Goodness, that sent a little shiver of delight through me. It was still my wedding day, after all. I was headed for the stairs when it hit me. "I'm afraid I don't know where my bedchamber is, Jarvis."

"His own wife?" George looked ill.

"Wives have been known to murder their husbands."

He clutched at his chest. "And you tell me this on our wedding night?"

I made a dismissive motion. "You probably have nothing to worry about."

"Probably?" His voice rose on the last syllable.

It was just the story I needed to read.

Publisher: Kensington Books

July 2022 | Rating: 8/10

A Newlywed's Guide to Fortune and Murder (2023)

A Newlywed's Guide to Fortune and MurderSet in England in 1900

Frances and George are more than ready for their Honeymoon, however, George has an assignment, and Frances has been asked to help present the niece of Lady Winstead to society. However, upon seeing the health of Lady Winstead–and learning more about Kate–Frances becomes extremely suspicious about the goings on in the Ashley household.

For one, Kate isn't particularly honest.

She glanced down at her lap, where she twined her fingers together. "I'm afraid it's worse than that," she said. "My aunt likely lost track of the years, but I am actually twenty-five."

He frowned. "As old as that, eh?"

I stared at Miss Stover, knowing her age to be twenty-eight.

Secondly, Lady Esther is convinced her best friend is being poisoned by her step-children.

One of the things I particularly enjoy about this story is the setting, and seeing now common devices just starting to come into use.

"You might wish to be seated. This often takes a great deal of time." I turned the crank on the base of the telephone and placed the handset to my ear. The crank turned easily, so I knew the operator's line was not engaged.

The mystery wasn't the best in the series, but I enjoyed the escape into historical London.

Publisher: Kensington Books

July 2023 | Rating: 7.5/10