Cover Image: No Life for a Lady

No Life for a Lady

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Member Reviews

*I received a copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this opportunity.*

Violet Hamilton is content with her life as it is. She is determined to live her life exactly how she desires-- mostly avoiding high society ladies, taking long strolls on the beach, and deterring any gentlemen callers her father pushes onto her. However, with the ten year anniversary of her mother's mysterious disappearance, Violet has finally decided to take the plunge and hire a detective to find sorely needed answers.

What follows is an entertaining, if slow paced, piece of fiction with a cast of characters you can't help but grow to love. While not exactly historically accurate on most accounts, NO LIFE FOR A LADY is a lighthearted read perfect for a modern audience. Violet is an engaging main character not subject to the limitations of women during her time period-- her misadventures introduce her to a wider world, and, in turn, made for a fun and twisty story.
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I found this one very interesting and so difficult to my usual reading genre. A little bit quirky at times but very enjoyable. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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In Hannah Dolby’s debut our heroine is delightfully clueless about sex and the like as she tries to figure out what happened to her mother who disappeared a decade earlier. This is charming as well as witty and I’m hoping that it’s going to turn out to be the first in a series. Hopefully enough people will buy it to make that happen because we have some savvy lady sleuths but not so many of the slightly bewildered by the the range of human behaviour ones and I would like more!
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In the first pages of #NoLifeforaLady, Violet, its nineteenth-century twenty-something heroine, sets out to find her mother, who disappeared a decade earlier. Her determination to solve this mystery is matched only by her desire to thwart her bumbling father's attempts to marry her off. She knows how to poke fun at herself, and her self-deprecating sense of humor and naïveté propel the reader through a series of intriguing adventures. I cheered Violet on and just had to know--will she find her mother? Will she find love? The book is enhanced by its beautiful, lyrical descriptions of Violet's home, an English seaside village, and the author's deep knowledge of flora and fauna adds depth. A lovely read.
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No Life for a Lady is a historical mystery set toward the end of the 19th century. Cosy crime readers will enjoy the slow pace and the transition of the protagonist from sheltered spinster to independent professional.
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It’s remarkable how men react when women break the rules.

No Life for a Lady is Hannah Dolby’s first novel and has since been declared “the most joyful book of 2023”. Published in March 2023, it quickly gained critical acclaim and praise worldwide. A historical mystery, it covers a range of topics from feminism to marriage to the roles we play in society.


The story follows Violet Hamilton, a 28-year-old woman, unmarried and all but ostracised from polite society. Her father worries that she’ll never find a husband as she continuously rebuffs every suitor, and her mother disappeared ten years previous – a mystery that Violet is adamant to solve. Hiring a so-called detective sets off a string of events that puts more than just her own reputation at risk. But she’s a woman who knows her own mind, and she refuses to give up her search for the mother who vanished without a trace. Can she finally solve the mystery of Lily Hamilton? Or will the search cost her more than she can afford to lose?


No Life for a Lady is a funny, adventurous story perfect to read in one sitting!

- There are numerous plot twists that keep you on your toes and completely unsure as to what will happen next. It makes the story enjoyable and entertaining as the mystery unfolds right in front of your eyes.
- It has the perfect blend of murder-mystery and social-criticism. Dolby was able to expertly weave the problems of the patriarchy and misogynism into this story without it feeling forced, leaving the reader curious and engaged in equal measure.
- It’s realistic in the sense of how society is portrayed. Characters are complexly developed, and the hero doesn’t always win. Unfortunately, this does lead to a lack of happy endings for more than one person, but seeing the harsh realities of life make the book a satisfying read despite that.

- The beginning of the book is flat and uninspiring, and admittedly, I considered giving up there and then. However, despite its rocky start, it does improve, and by the end of the story, I was fully captivated!
- Speaking of the end of the story, the so-called “resolution” comes swiftly and suddenly and isn’t entirely satisfactory. The story also ends right before you want it to, so be prepared to have follow-up questions once you’ve finished reading it.
- The protagonist of the story, Violet, is incredibly naive and does not significantly develop as a character throughout the novel. The added disadvantage is that this story is told through her eyes in the first-person narrative, and given her wide-eyed personality, it’s annoying at times to see something so blatant that Violet herself doesn’t understand.


Overall, I’d give Hannah Dolby’s No Life for a Lady a three out of five. If Bridgerton met Enola Holmes, then this is what you’d get!

I’d recommend this novel to fans of period dramas or Victorian detective fiction, as it combines all of the glamour and expectations of an 1800s debutant with the gritty realism of Hercule Poirot’s whodunit. If you’re looking for a light-hearted and engaging mystery, then this is the book for you!
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The plot of this novel focuses on a woman who is searching for her mother after she disappeared 10 years ago. She hires a private detective who is not what he seems, and finds out all kinds of things about her mother that she did not suspect. This book seemed to drag on and had some surprise twists and turns but it just did not work for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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No Life For A Lady is the first novel by British author, Hannah Dolby. Ten years after her mother Lily goes missing from Hastings Pier, twenty-eight-year-old Violet Hamilton engages a private investigator to find out what happened. Frank Knight isn’t quite what she expected of a detective, but he has agreed not to tell her father: Lucas Hamilton would be livid…

But what he uncovers has Violet concerned that he has little regard for her mother’s, and her own reputation. It’s quickly clear that she did not know her mother as well as she had thought, but when she tries to get Knight to halt his investigation, he refuses.

Violet really misses her mother: “Without her protection, her wisdom, men and courtship were like navigating stormy seas in a boat full of holes. It was safer to reject them all.” As Violet deftly dodges the prospective husbands that Lucas parades before her, while trying to (rather badly) run a household, she learns of another detective in town.

Benjamin Blackthorn immediately strikes her as much more trustworthy than Knight, but he is recovering from a broken leg and insists it was his father, Bernard who was the detective: he now only sells furniture. And he’d never take another detective’s case. Violet, though, is persistent and has soon managed to convince him that she can interview prospective female clients and even carry out investigative work for him. And just maybe, she can eventually convince him to look for her mother.

Some of those investigations turn out to be real eye-openers for a sheltered young spinster: tailing a woman’s fiancé, breaking into a museum, visiting a brothel, and foiling a theft; but “I wanted to find my mother. I wanted to fill my life with something useful, and not be afraid of living. I wanted to know about life, and not be wrapped and smothered in cotton wool because I was a woman.”

There’s a good deal of humour in this tale, as well as a cute twist, a very dramatic climax, and plenty of scope for further stories featuring this cast. An enjoyable and entertaining cosy crime debut.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Aria & Aries.
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this one was a slow start but once it found it's feet it turned into a really enjoyable read. definitely recommend giving this one a read.
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“I lit on the idea of a detective when I was reading through his collection of adventure books. There was a series about a detective called Sherlock Holmes, an odd but freakishly clever man, and a collection of short stories by a Catherine Louisa Pirkis about a Lady Detective called Loveday Brooke.” 

My thanks to Head of Zeus Aria & Aries for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘No Life for a Lady’ by Hannah Dolby. I have since purchased its ebook and audiobook editions. 

The protagonist of this delightful debut historical novel set in 1896 is Violet Hamilton, who at 28 has become quite adept at finding new and inventive ways of rebuffing the suitors that her father presents to her. 

It’s clear that Violet has no interest in marrying. She would much prefer to work and make her own way in the world, though such an ambition is difficult in Victorian society for a young woman of her class. More than anything, Violet wants to find her mother Lily, who disappeared from Hastings Pier 10 years earlier.

Violet hires private detective Frank Knight though when he proves ineffective she begins her own investigation setting off a chain of events that puts more than her reputation at risk. 

This novel proved so much fun and felt very true to its period setting in terms of Violet having to tread carefully as she began to pursue her dream of becoming a ‘lady detective’. Along the way she meets up with the rather lovely Benjamin Blackthorn, whose father had been a well respected local private detective. 

However, he has decided not to follow his father’s profession and is now running a secondhand furniture shop. That doesn’t stop locals from asking for his help or indeed Violet from hoping that he will aid her. 

There are some laugh out loud moments such as when Violet is taken under the wing of Mrs Monk, a woman with ‘a past’. She endeavours to address Violet’s concerns about ‘that’ aspect of marriage. Oh how very innocent Violet is. Alongside the fun there is a fair amount of suspense especially as the tale reaches its dramatic conclusion.

Overall, I found ‘No Life for a Lady’ a joyful novel and an impressive debut. While the story is complete in itself I do rather hope for a sequel or even a series. 

Highly recommended to lovers of cosy historical mysteries with a touch of romance.
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The year is 1896 when life was more complicated than it is now especially for women. 

Aged 28, main character Violet is seen as an old spinster and her father is concerned that she won’t settle down and get married, but Violet isn’t interested in that life – she wants to work and be independent – which didn’t really happen in that era. 

Violet sets out to discover what happened to her mother who disappeared ten years previously, and as this is no job for a lady, Violet hires a detective but is this the best thing to do, and is she taking the lid off Pandora’s box?
This was a nice gentle read, something that you’d pick up on a Sunday afternoon with the rain beating down outside – it will whisk you away to another lifetime with characters that you will warm to.
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This book couldn't have been any *more* my cup of tea!

I loved it from start to finish. I quickly warmed to Violet Hamilton - she's warm, hilarious, determined... everything you want in a heroine!

Hannah Dolby does a fantastic job of bringing 1896 Hastings to life. The historical details made the novel and always felt light-touch. I was wholly engrossed in Violet's world as she set about solving the mystery of her disappearing mother and finding her own way in the world.

This book really had me chuckling. It was sweet, touching, poignant and redemptive. I think it's certain to be a hit with fans of A J Pearce - I'll definitely be reading whatever Hannah Dolby writes next!

Many thanks to Head of Zeus, Hannah Dolby and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This wasn't quite what I expected but it was still very cute and I'm obsessed! Violet is a self-assured and independent lady who doesn't want a man only to find out where her mother is. Along the way she meets pseudo-retired detective Benjamin Blackthorne who is a 10/10, he is a polite charming good gentleman who adores Violet and I wish we got to see more of him! I also liked how the societal rules were played within this. I like that Violet was a believable rebel given the time frame and how she dealt with her less the perfect hired detective I even like how Benjamin behaved about it. It allowed the book to feel genuine and realistic despite its over-the-top characters. However, the book gets even more dramatic at the end but with a happily ever after I can never complain about it! It's a cozy little dectective story with a side of romances that's adorable and will be reread in the future.
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Thoroughly enjoyable book, a total pleasant surprise.  Violet is 28, and has been able to hold off the many suitors presented by her father.  Violet’s mother, Lily, disappeared ten years prior, and Violet was determined to find her.  Hiring a private detective results in some unexpected consequences for Violet.  Determined, Violet seeks out the help of a second private detective, Benjamin Blackthorn.  The story is told with humor, as well as sympathy for the naive Violet, who knows nothing of relationships and men.  Highly recommended.  Thanks to NetGalley for this wonderful book.
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I really enjoy a good historical romance book and this book is so good! 
Thanks Netgalley and the publisher for the book
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I adored this. The first third was a little bit slow but once I got into the swing of it I couldn’t stop reading. Would highly recommend.
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a charming and entertaining historical fiction set in 1896 about a 28-year-old woman who does not want to get married. after all, she has learned the horrors of marriage from her mother who disappeared 10 years ago ... violet is a lovable character and the writing is easy to read.
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We meet 28-yr-old Violet Hamilton in Victorian Hastings, ten years after the disappearance of her mother. A chance sighting of a newspaper advertisement for a new detective in town leads Violet to hire him in the hopes of finding out what happened to her mother.

Violet quickly comes to realise that the detective, Mr Knight, is not acting as she hopes, but he refuses to be put off the case. She also finds another option in the form of former detective Mr Blackthorne, but he doesn’t want the case. Violet, who returns to Mr Blackthorne’s shop to use his typewriter in an effort to train as a “Lady typist”, finds herself increasingly drawn into investigating cases that have found their way to Mr Blackthorne, while simultaneously trying to bat away suitors that her father insists on bringing home. As the investigation into her mother’s disappearance progresses, she knows that there is much to uncover and must decide whether finding out the truth is really what is best for herself and her father.

I really enjoyed this story, and loved Violet! Her interactions with others in the story, from the kindly reverend, to the unsuitable suitors, the ladies in the house of ill repute, her father’s new love interest, and the detective who makes her feel warm in a way she doesn’t quite understand, are funny and charming. While wonderfully naïve at the start of the book, Violet grows with every new interaction, and I found her quirks very endearing. I loved her efforts to learn about being a “Lady detective” and I hope there might be a sequel, as I’m not ready to say goodbye to some of these characters just yet! I would recommend this title to any fans of historical fiction.

My thanks to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher for the arc to review.
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This was a really fun read.

At 18: Violet’s mother goes out one day. However she never comes home. The police investigate but close the case on lack of evidence.

10 years later, Evie, now 28 is living with her father. Determined to stay a spinster, she rebuffs the advances of all the unsuitable men that her father tries to set her up with.  Determined to find out what happened to her mother, she hires a private detective.

Violet gets herself into some scrapes along the way as she can’t help doing a little investigating herself.

Thanks must go to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
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I totally enjoyed this book. It is charming, funny, fast-paced and I read it in one sitting! 
Violet is 28 years old and her father fears she will never marry. No matter who he introduces her to as potential husband material, Violet finds new and creative ways to discourage the young man. She is only interested in solving the mystery of her mother's disappearance. She hires a detective to help and he turns out to be very trustworthy, not on the up and up. Violet then attempts to hire a second one, Benjamin who doesn't really wabt to be a detective anymore. 
There are some really terrific laugh out loud moments throughout this story. Violet is a pill and her inner thoughts can be a riot. Benjamin is a sweet cuddly teddy bear that you just want to squeeze and hold tight. 
Overall a truly delightful, light- hearted mystery/romance? I highly recommend to readers who are looking for a quick laugh and light entertainment for the afternoon. 
Thank you to Aria Publishing and to Net Galley for the free ARC, I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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