Cover Image: No Life for a Lady

No Life for a Lady

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Member Reviews

Violet Hamilton, a 28-year-old "spinster" living in a seaside town in England during the late Victorian era, is one of the most delightful characters I have encountered in a long time. Keeping house for her stolid banker father and unwilling to accept any man as a potential husband, Violet looks for something to make her life meaningful. Obsessed with finding out what happened to her beautiful mother, who disappeared 10 years ago, she decides to engage a local private detective, Frank Knight, to find her. But when Knight uncovers some unsavory details and is not as discreet as she demands, Violet approaches another detective who seems more suitable. Unfortunately, Benjamin Blackthorn has decided to become a furniture salesman rather than follow in his late father's detective footsteps and is reluctant to help Violet. But he hasn't reckoned with her determination and persistence--no shrinking Violet here! 

Narrating her own story, Violet reveals in the most entertaining (often hilarious) fashion her unshakeable character, her desires and eccentricities, and her shocking lack of knowledge about certain things. Supporting characters are also well drawn and memorable. This is a fun, charming book by a debut author, and there is certainly enough going on in Violet's tumultuous life by the end of the story to fuel a sequel. Here's hoping! 

My thanks to NetGalley and Aria and Aries for the opportunity to read and  provide an honest review of this book.
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This was a remarkably entertaining debut novel. It's difficult to pin it down since it has a bit of romance, a bit of history, a bit of sleuthing and a bit LGBTQ before its time. I had no expectations before starting the book but got into it quickly, mainly because of its endearing protagonist. This could be the first one in a series about a lady detective if the writer develops her characters a bit more and finds other equally interesting story lines. I would be interested to see how it continues.
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I just loved this book! Set in 1896, Violet is a feisty 28 year old spinster actively avoiding marriage despite the reputation it brings her. The humour throughout this book is very well written so we find our trusty heroine inventing ridiculous charities to explain where she spends her time. In reality, it's spent trying to trace her mother who disappeared a decade earlier and with her new friend who owns a furniture shop. Clearly there's a lot more to it than this so it well worth reading.

If you are looking for an escape with an endearing main character who will make you smile, this is the book for you. Highly recommended. 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Funny, enlightening, joyous romantic comedy. Historical angle gives it a really fresh feel. Highly recommended.
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I was randomly selected by the publisher to receive an ARC.  Thank you to Netgalley as well.  It's 1896 and Victoria is 28 years old.  Her mother has been missing for ten years now.  In that time, Victoria has searched her room and done all that she could think of to figure out what happened.  An advertisement for a local detective catches her eye and she hires Mr. Knight on the spot.  He seems a bit unsavory but she knew of no other detective.  Victoria lives with her Father on the seaside and their two staff.  She attends church weekly and is determined not to marry.

Victoria's Father introduces her to many gentlemen, all of which she firmly and creatively turns them down.  She is a bit of an oddity, being 28 and unmarried.  There is also a kind of public stain from having a missing Mother.  Victoria has dabbled in charity work but longs for more purpose.  It's not proper really for a spinster to work, being a gently bred young daughter of a banker.  When Mr. Knight continues to investigate her Mother's disappearance, she continues to find him uncomfortable to be around.  When firing him doesn't work, she looks for another detective.  

Benjamin's Father was the detective but has since passed away.  His son has decided instead to sell furniture.  Victoria charmingly inveigled herself into his life.  She assists him with some light detective work.  His shop has a typewriter and he allows her to learn typing, even assisting with receipts and such.  Victoria keeps her activities from her Father but she is immensely pleased with herself for finding useful, interesting work.  Benjamin takes on a few cases reluctantly, with Victoria's help.  Detective work could be dangerous and he wanted to avoid his Father's fate.  Victoria has become a permanent part of his life.  As feelings start to develop, Victoria pushes them aside to focus on finding her Mother.

Mr. Knight is consumed with finding her Mother and she soon finds out why.  Victoria's innocence is shed several times over the course of the investigation and from meeting new people in this new enterprise of hers.  She finds out her Father hid a letter from her that her Mother sent after her disappearance.  The mystery unravels in unexpected and exciting ways.  I was entertained throughout and thoroughly enjoyed Victoria and Benjamin.  Her strong, silly and unconventional personality are a treasure.  I look forward to more of Victoria.
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This is a fantastic piece of historical fiction that was well written with well developed charcaters and a compelling storyline that was full of charm, mystery and humour - it made me laugh out loud at times. A great read.
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Oooh, what a joyful character Violet is! I really appreciated her being vulnerable for not knowing lots of things she could've asked her mother if she hadn't disappeared then years earlier. How she walks out on men on two different occasions on the same day just because she was feeling uncomfortable, and is embarrassed about it later, but haven't we all had situations like that?
And when things do go the way she was hoping or even better – sorting things, Violet being on a high, realizing what a powerful feeling that is, as opposed to being terrified which she admits to often feel as well. 

Also very on topic when it comes to men thinking women are inferior creatures, as indeed you sometimes think nothing much changed since 1896.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book.
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I suspect we all need someone like Violet Hamilton in our life to remind us to dream bigger and break a few rules every once in a while! 

This is a funny and heartwarming book set in the glorious Hastings seaside in the late Victorian era. Violet Hamilton lives with her father, being a rather different kind of young women, who at the ripe old age of twenty-eight has already decided to spurn the advances of suitors arranged by her father to woo her. Violet dreams of something more than marriage. But she isn't sure what.  Especially as Violet's own Mother disappeared without any explanation ten years ago - there are things she longs to know. Violet thinks she can't solve this mystery alone, so she employs the help of a Detective, Mr Knight. But Violet can't shake her suspicions that Mr Knight is more than just a bad mannered man, he might also be a bad detective. Violet starts investigating other options and meets Benjamin, the bearded son of Hasting's best detective. Piecing together her Mother's past and learning about herself, Violet realises she has ambitions that cannot be contained by her fathers limited expectations and sets forth on an adventure that is filled with hilarious and heartwarming moments. Picking up skills from Benjamin and uncovering more clues about her Mothers life, through these events Violet starts to see the possibilities of life open around her. 

Dolby creates a world filled with rich characters that are easy to love, even if at first some are misunderstood by Violet's innocent view of the world - that only adds to the comedic dilemmas she faces getting to know Benjamin under strict social rules for unmarried women. ("If anyone heard us use our first names they might think we were lovers. It was a truly shocking lapse of formality. It felt dangerous and illicit. I realised I didn't care.") 

It is a book I wholeheartedly recommend, an absolute diamond of richly drawn characters, dramatic twists, and a slice of romance that keep pages turning. 

 It's easy to get complacent and forget that reading is about escaping, No Life for a Lady is a reminder of what good stories do best: transport the reader into an adventure. Especially one as fun as Violet, brought to life in vivid technicolour detail on every page.  I cannot wait to read what Dolby writes next!
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A fun read definitely in the vein of Dear Mrs Bird and Mrs Bensons Beetle.  It makes such a change for a book that doesn’t just follow usual rules, one to pack in your bag for holiday
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Violet doesn't want to marry but her father is insisting that she does.   Not that she has much choice as it is in 1896.    She is definitely unique in her views for a lady in that time period.  She wants to find her mother who disappeared mysteriously 10 years earlier.    She is fun, original and sassy.   I love the LOL scenes.   She is a delight.   It's an interesting mystery and I have fun reading it.

Thanks to the publisher for the arc.
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This was pure delight!  Well written and plotted, likeable characters, and a decent mystery to boot.  I instantly recommended the book to the local library to purchase.
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This ARC was provided to me via Kindle, from Aria and Aries and #NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to preview and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own. 

Charming characters, funny, entertaining and relatable.
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