Cover Image: A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

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Member Reviews

I absolutely loved this book! I was so engrossed by the characters right off the bat. Dianne Freeman's writing is out of this world, if you've been in a reading slump this is a great place to start, it absolutely blew me away!
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What a delightful historical novel.

A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder was a fun read with well-crafted characters!!

Synopsis:
Though American by birth, Frances Wynn, the now-widowed Countess of Harleigh, has adapted admirably to the quirks and traditions of the British aristocracy. On August twelfth each year, otherwise known as the Glorious Twelfth, most members of the upper class retire to their country estates for grouse-shooting season. Frances has little interest in hunting—for birds or a second husband—and is expecting to spend a quiet few months in London with her almost-engaged sister, Lily, until the throng returns.

Instead, she’s immersed in a shocking mystery when a friend, Mary Archer, is found murdered. Frances had hoped Mary might make a suitable bride for her cousin, Charles, but their courtship recently fizzled out. Unfortunately, this puts Charles in the spotlight—along with dozens of others. It seems Mary had countless notes hidden in her home, detailing the private indiscretions of society’s elite. Frances can hardly believe that the genteel and genial Mary was a blackmailer, yet why else would she horde such juicy tidbits?
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I was not aware this was a series when I requested this book. That said, I was intrigued enough to buy the first and I am glad I did. This was a light, fun historical mystery read. The story coasts along on a surface mystery but it's engaging enough to keep the villain somewhat camouflaged as Frances works her way through to the answer.

These books are called cozy mysteries for a reason and A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder, despite the very bold title, fits right in.
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A very enjoyable historical cozy mystery. Ms. Freeman does a great job immersing the reader in Victorian England and the life of a society heiress. It's interesting to have a female amateur detective set in this time period, as the ettiequte and views of what is proper for a woman are so different from today. It's fun to see how Frances works within these boundaries as a sleuth determined to prove her cousin Charles innocent of murder. I also enjoy the slow burning (and time-period proper) romance between Frances and next door neighbor George Hazelton. All around a fun read.
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Frances and George are back with a new murder to solve. Frances gets so involved looking for the killer of a friend she doesn’t offer her sister support for planning her engagement party nor entertaining a visiting friend. 
Goodreads
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I read the first book in this series and couldn't wait to read the sequel.  I was not disappointed.  Frances has another American young lady that she is going to introduce to London society, Lottie, and Frances' sister Lily and her Aunt Hettie are still in residence too.  I liked the introduction of the new characters of Lottie and cousin Charles.  In this installment a woman of Frances' acquaintance is murdered and she and George get involved to try to find out what happened to her.  I was quite surprised by the ending, as I had one person in mind as the killer and that is not who it was.  I like the way that George trusts Frances to help with the investigating, and that he worries about her safety also.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens between them in the next book.

I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Kensington Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I think the main reason why I disliked this book was because Frances was an insufferable character. Her sensibilities and jumping to conclusions got boring really fast.
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A fun second offering to this new light and frothy mystery series. I really enjoyed the character development and love seeing the main character navigate the British Aristocracy as she solves mystery after mystery,
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5 Stars

She's back, the Countess of Harleigh, Aunt Heddy, and Mr. ::cough:: George Hazelton. The second book in this series is just as delightful as the first.

Gossip, Murder, Intrigue, Manners, new money and old money, The Americans & the British

The pacing, character, and development in Freeman's books have yet to disappoint.
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Dianne Freeman brings her wit and wordsmanship (wordswomanship?) to the second in her debut series. After establishing herself with the oh-so-charming, Agatha Award-winning "A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder," Freeman returns in "Gossip and Murder" with an expanded cast of characters to love (and hate) and another murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. One part mystery, one part history, a dash of romance, and overall a whole lot of fun.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, the sophomore entry in the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series, is an enjoyable romp through London’s upper crust’s dirty laundry and murder. 

Readers find this story pick up shortly after the first book A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder concludes with Lady Frances once again drawn into investigating a murder.  Her friend Mary Archer is found dead and parcels containing society’s secrets discovered lead to a motive, but Mary is not the type of person to blackmail others, is she?  Frances slips easily into the role of sleuth when her neighbor and “friend” George asks for her assistance going through Mary’s files. When Frances’s cousin (by marriage) Charles, who recently ended his courtship with Mary, becomes the primary suspect, the stakes are even higher to unmask the real killer.  Mary’s notes lead Frances, George, and Inspector Delaney down an enlightening path of gossip to unearth an even bigger secret.

Gossip and secrets are very much the theme of this mystery, and author Freeman does a good job of presenting a historically accurate depiction of the damage a bit of tittle-tattle can do and the struggles a widowed woman like Mary would face on her own in the late nineteenth century.  The mystery is well thought out and comes to a satisfying conclusion. That said, Frances rehashes the same information over and over throughout the story, and it becomes a bit tedious and boring. These moments are short lived, but they make the pace drag on here and there. I did not figure out whodunit until shortly before Frances did.

Frances is a wonderful character with sparkling intelligence and common sense.  Here she does come across a bit narrow minded by latching onto one particular suspect, but she is otherwise quick and bold without veering too far away from being period correct.  I do wish that either she had no children or that her daughter would appear more often. As it is, Rose seems like an afterthought. I adore George and Aunt Hetty, and Frances’s young house guest Lottie is a lovely diamond in the rough. 

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder lacks the charm of the series debut, but it is still an engaging, well plotted murder mystery.  I look forward to reading many more books featuring Frances and friends.

*OBS would like to thank the author for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*
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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder is the 2nd book in the Countess of Harleigh Cozy Mystery Series and it was a great follow up to the 1st book, A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder.
This book is original, witty, clever and very entertaining. There’s a great murder mystery, some romance, great characters and it takes place in an interesting time period, England 1899.
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, A Ladies Guide to Mischief and Murder.
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Lady Harleigh and her neighbor George Hazelton form a crime fighting investigative duo to rival those in Remington Steel and Moonlighting.  The tension of attraction and the soupcon of danger add fuel to their investigations.

Book two in the series begins tragically with the death of Mary Archer, Lady Harleigh's friend and fellow widow.  George has been asked by his "employer" to assist the police in investigating Mrs. Archer's death as a packet of notes full of scintillating tidbits were found under some floorboards in her house. It is suspected that Mary was blackmailing members of the ton and someone murdered her for it. George asks Lady Harleigh, Frances, to go through the documents and pick out the bits possibly worth murdering over. 

What the two uncover goes much deeper that gossip and possible blackmail, investment fraud, newspapermen and bilking members of the ton for thousands of pounds.  Romance is also blossoming in unexpected ways around the couple but will Frances and George also succumb to the call of love.
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The Countess of Harleigh  and the gang are back to help her cousin, Charles who is accused of murder,  I love the historical fiction aspect of this series along with and inside peak at the homes of England's elite.  I am looking forward to the next book of the series.
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Dianne Freeman’s new series, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, blends a manners novel with a mystery.

Frances, the recently widowed Countess of Harleigh, is one of the dollar princesses. She’s an American heiress married to an impoverished British title—a bit like Lady Jennie Jerome Churchill, or Lady Cora on Downton Abbey.

Frances’ first mystery to solve is getting her own resources back from greedy in-laws, but that soon gives way to a more dramatic mystery. The blend of formalized manners and dangerous investigation makes a great series.

The second one, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, develops the secondary characters, and sets up a strong possibility of recurring mysteries for Frances and her friends to solve.
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Though I’m no fan of the new stylized covers, Freeman’s Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder WAS pink and I love pink as much as a murder mystery set in late Victorian times among the aristocratic and privileged. If only there’d been a murder at Downton … (well, there was, but it was in a hotel room). I thought Freeman’s plot convoluted, but I wanted to find another historical murder mystery series to follow, as if I didn’t already have quite a few.

Ah, the complicated plotting: young,  widowed, single mother, Lady Harleigh, American Frances Price by birth, aristocratic British by marriage of convenience, much like Lady Grantham, is our amateur sleuth. When the novel opens, we learn Frances has refused marriage to her charming neighbour and partner in sleuthing (does he work for the Home Office?), George Hazelton. Frances lives with Rose, her seven-year-old daughter; recently affianced sister, Lily; Aunt Hetty, and the comic-relief, klutzy, American heiress, Charlotte Deaver (left to Frances’s care by her globe-trotting, toy-boy-collecting mother). Frances has a lively social life, now she’s out of mourning, and a wide circle of friends, one of whom is Charles Evingdon, a harmless, handsome, air-headed aristocrat. Frances has tried to set Charles up with one of her friends, Mary Archer. Sadly, Mary is murdered and Charles is implicated. With George’s help, Frances extricates Charles from the police. However, as she, George, and their coterie of friends, including Charles, learn more about Mary Archer, things are curiouser and curiouser.   

Like Frances, Mary is a widow, but one of greatly straitened financial circumstances. Mary’s widow’s weeds and circumspect life reveal themselves to be anything but to Frances and George. They discover that Mary was a collector of from potentially embarrassing to surely illegal secrets on the part of many in English high society. How was Mary going to use this information and who might kill her to prevent her from exposing them? George and Frances, Charles and Charlotte, as well as Inspector Delaney work together and apart to find how Mary’s secrets, personal and in her possession, led to her demise.

Freeman’s Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder had the accoutrements to make me love it. An 1899 setting, practically Downton (yes, I was an unabashed fan-girl), a potential romance in Frances and George, English setting, aristocratic antics, comeuppances, and a modicum of Frances-George banter. It was, however, so very very plotty, to the detriment of my feeling any sympathy, or liking for the characters. Not that I disliked them; they were flat. And yet, there were moments when Frances’s connection to the RIP Mary, as a fellow widow who has to make her way in the world, was expressed with elegance and sympathy. Take for example, Frances’s comment about how Mary chose to make a living: “A woman would give a great deal for that sense of independence and self-sufficiency. Mary chose a way to support herself by making use of her skills … I might not approve, but I certainly understood. And I was in no position to condemn.” I wish there was MORE of George and Frances and more of these moments of connection and introspection. That being said, if you love a plotty murder mystery, smoothly, though not charmingly written, this may be the novel for you. I will, however, pass on any others in future. With Miss Austen, we say A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder offers “tolerable comfort,” Mansfield Park.

Dianne Freeman’s A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder is published by Kensington Books. It was released on June 25 and may be found at your preferred vendor. I received an e-ARC from Kensington Books, via Netgalley.
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Dianne Freeman continues her series of light historical mysteries with A Lady’s Guide to Gossip And Murder, which combines cozy mystery and playful period romantic drama to create an entertaining – though not exceptional – historical mystery.

Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, is an American heiress for whom death has been an uncomfortably close companion.  Her elderly, philanderer of a husband, Reggie, kicked the bucket before the start of the first book in the series and left her alone with a seven-year-old daughter named Rose.  As this book opens, Frances is still mourning her sister-in-law, Delia, who died in book one. It’s the late summer season in London – just heading towards, the Glorious Twelfth (the start of grouse shooting season), boredom is everywhere and most of the gentry have retired to their country estates.  Frances has no interest in hunting and is planning on spending some time with her younger sister Lily in quiet peace as Lily angles for a proposal from her sweetheart, Leo.  But all hope of peace goes dashing out the window when Frances receives word that her friend Mary Archer has been murdered.

Mary was the sweet-seeming darling of the fashionable set, and Frances had hoped to marry Mary off to her cousin, Charles, but the courtship fizzled out, and in the end, Mary and Frances never became terribly close. Frances is stunned to learn from the investigating detective, Inspector Delaney, that Mary was a confidence keeper; she had hundreds of notes detailing the most intimate secrets of the elite stashed away in her home.  Some of them were about Charles, making him a suspect; and some were about another cousin - Graham - and a bank dispute they were embroiled in, adding him to the suspect list.

Wanting to protect her family and find Mary’s killer, Frances once again aids the police – and once again her handsome bachelor neighbor, George Hazelton, is there to help her.  Soon she learns that Mary has a complicated secret; she was the pseudonymous gossip columnist Miss Information in a local paper. Clearly, Mary held back some juicy tidbits, and clearly one of those tidbits was motivation for murder.  But who is the murderer?

Part Harriet Vane, part Phyrne Fisher, Frances Wynn is a spirited and independent character whose cleverness remains tragically unnoticed by the light-minded society in which she lives.  Her universe is familiar and yet not; and the way she digs out her clues and presents them to readers is intriguing.

I generally enjoyed the mystery to which Frances applies herself and many of the supporting characters. Her romance with George develops and percolates along nicely, and Charles, Lily and Rose are all believable.  But while I definitely enjoyed the mystery, this book lacked that special spark that made The Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder so lively.  The procedural works, the mystery makes sense, Frances and George are a delight, the family is interesting, and Frances is as fun as ever – but the intensity feels lower and a little less compelling in this one.  That doesn’t make The Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder any less fun, but it does mean that my recommendation is less urgent than it might be were it quite as fun and fresh as the first novel. Oh well.  Consider this a quick, breezy summer beach mystery.

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An excellent follow-up to the first Countess of Harleigh mystery! A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder is a cozy Victorian mystery with a smart female lead, a man who respects her, and a cast of supporting characters who are entertaining without becoming caricatures. The mystery was strong with clues and suspicions delivered at a good rate, and there’s just enough romance to keep my heart happy. This was a very fun read, and I cannot wait for book three!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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American by birth, the newly widow Countess of Harleigh has adapted to English ways--somewhat. She looks forward to seeing her sister who is maybe almost engaged. But a murder throws a spanner into her plans. Her friend Mary has been murdered; her cousin Charles is a suspect, and her neighbor, George Hazelton is at the ready to lend a hand. A fun historical mystery.
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3,5 Stars

I read the first book of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries a while ago and enjoyed it a lot. The second book did not disappoint either.
Once again, a Lady Harleigh finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation, and once again she tries solving the mystery with the help of her "friend" and neighbour Mr. Hazelton.
The mystery was interesting, not over intriguing but with some captivating characters, some we already knew from the previous book and it was nice meeting them again. 
I enjoyed reading it and following the evolution of the relationship between Frances and George. I can't wait to see what happens next.
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