Cover Image: No Life for a Lady

No Life for a Lady

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Member Reviews

A great mystery that really picked up pace half way through.

Please let there be a sequel! Currently imagining what things look like for Violet Hamilton and Benjamin Blackthorn, both in terms of a relationship, but also what future detective cases come their way!

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If you like your historical fiction to feature a sassy, feminist heroine and include a touch of both mystery and romance, then you’ll love this delight of a debut from Hannah Dolby.

We’re in late-Victorian Hastings on England’s south coast, with 28 year-old Violet Hamilton, who lives alone with her banker father since the unexplained disappearance of her mother ten years before. Having decided that marriage is not for her — based on her mother’s terrifying (and hilarious) description of marital relations — she stubbornly rejects every suitor that comes her way.

Violet is hopelessly unladylike: bold, opinionated, and very strong willed. A match for any man and certainly not marriage material. But, she has other ambitions: to lead an exciting, independent life … with a career … perhaps as a lady typist or a lady detective.

When Violet embarks on a mission to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, the adventures that follow make for a rumbunctious romp of a read, involving a quirky cast of characters and all manner of shenanigans

I quickly warmed to the character of Violet, loving her spirit and total disregard for social conventions. She’s intelligent, with an inquiring mind and a caustic tongue, and tries valiantly to hold her own against the opposite sex, more often than not succeeding. She’s convinced that her mother is still alive and will stop at nothing to get to the truth.

Dolby has an easy, engaging writing style that bounces along at a jaunty, exhilarating pace, embracing a wonderful concoction of intrigue, humour and delicious sexual tension. I can’t say I found some of Violet’s behaviour wholly credible towards the end, but hey, this isn’t a story to be taken too seriously. Rather, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Violet Hamilton has decided that after ten years since her mother went missing in the summer of 1886, she wanted to find her. She was 18 years old when her mother just disappeared one evening after leaving to meet friends & nothing had been heard from her since. Was she dead or alive? Violet always believed she was alive. Violet thought that hiring a private detective would answer all questions left outstanding.

This caused more questions than answers & led her to meet some incredible characters & to experience some life events that changed her life.

What a great book. The humour carries throughout as well as dealing with big issues from the time, it could easily translate to 2023. Violet is such a strong young woman who is fighting against the norms of life for women at this time, & she succeeds with aplomb. Oh, to be Violet with her strength & where with all.

Great debut novel by Hannah Dolby & I look forward to reading her further books.

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Really loved the main character, and her strong and funny personality. The mystery detective aspect was so fun too. Benjamin is such a fun character and I loved the ending!

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No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby

A very enjoyable historical cosy romantic sleuth mystery! Something for everyone. Set in 1986 in Hastings/St Leonard’s on Sea wife and mother Lily Hamilton goes out and never returns. There was no signs of her anywhere and Violet and her father have made no attempt to find her, until now. Violet is a brilliant character. Strong in a way women are not expected to be. Intent on getting a job and earning a living. Determined to find her mother and never to marry. She is dreadfully naive, with no knowledge about physical relationships between husband and wife, but intelligent with a sharp wit.

Briefly, ten years after Lily went missing and despite repeated attempts by her father to introduce her to eligible gentlemen Violet is adamant she doesn’t want to marry. What she wants to do is find her mother and to that end she needs a private detective. What follows is a rather enjoyable romp with Violet breaking all the rules for a Victorian lady. But can she find out what happened to her mother?

I love the way Violet managed to persuade all her potential husbands that she really isn’t suitable. Full of tongue in cheek humour and inappropriate events Violet is a joy. Whether she would have really have been able to get away with everything she did just doesn’t matter. A well written and highly enjoyable easy read with a great protagonist. I hope to see Violet again as a fully fledged detective.


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I want more, more, more of Hannah Dolby's new heroine, Violet. I sure hope Dolby creates a series for Violet so I can return to Hastings for more fun. Readers who love a fun detective story sprinkled with their historical fiction will enjoy No Life For a Lady. It's refreshing to read a book set in the late Victorian era. It's the perfect setting for Dolby's spot-on humor- appropriately subtle but, at times, laugh-out-loud enjoyable.

Bravo! Hannah Dolby for writing a thoroughly enjoyable debut novel. Please keep them coming.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic ARC in exchange for a review.

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1896. At twenty-eight, Violet's father is beginning to fear she will never marry. But every suitor he puts forward, she finds an increasingly creative way of rebuffing. Because Violet is a woman who knows her own mind - and her mind is on her mother, who went missing ten years earlier, vanishing from Hastings Pier without a trace. Looking for the missing is not a suitable pastime for a lady. But when Violet hires a seaside detective to help, she sets off an unexpected chain of events that will throw her life into chaos.

What a delightful read this book was. It's a romantic mystery. The women in this story are strong characters. Violet refuses to get married even though her father keeps introducing her to new suitors. Her mother had disappeared ten years ago, but no one knows if she just disappeared or was murdered. I quite enjoyed this different type of romantic mystery. It's easy to read and quite entertaining. I really liked Violet, she's quite naive and funny. Violet's father is a typical Victorian character, but he's also quite likeable. This well written book is the authors debut. I will be looking out for more from this author in future.

I would like to thank #NetGalley #AriaAndAries and the author #HannahDolby for my ARC of #NoLifeForALady in exchange for an honest review.

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I love reading an author new to me and immediately wanting to read more of her writing!

Violet Hamilton is not the lady her father would wish her to be; he wants her to be safely married while she is of a mind not to get married at all. Her mother disappeared on them some years ago and Violet has long dreamed of finding her; to this end she has finally got enough money to hire a private detective - but is he any good?

I was first attracted to this novel by the striking cover - and when I read the blurb I knew it was one for me. There is so much more to it than that though; written with warmth and wit and such a lot going on! Our leading lady certainly doesn't suffer fools gladly and her observations on the many men her father produces are very entertaining! I would love to think this is the beginning of a series as it is certainly one I would follow. Beautifully crafted characters, superbly well-written and kept my attention all the way to the very end. A cracking read, highly recommended and easily meriting all five sparkling stars!

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley; this is - as always - my honest, original and unbiased review.

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“I realised that for a long time I had always thought of myself in terms of what I was not, rather than what I was.”

No Life for a Lady is both hilarious and uplifting. I enjoyed reading Violet’s journey into becoming a lady detective in the late 1890s—which for all we know is impossible in a patriarchal society. Despite being a historical fiction, the writing felt modern to me. It was easy to follow and the ending of every chapter made me eager to know what happens next. It was truly an enjoyable reading experience!

This book is so much more than the challenges of being a woman in the late 1800s. It also talked about how important it is to define your own life and not let others do it for you.

Overall, despite being slow-paced, I still had a great time reading this book. It was fun being a part of Violet’s journey into becoming the lady that she is.

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A brilliant, compelling read, bursting with humour and wonderful insights, and with a heroine who is determined to be herself at all costs. There are some real gems of lines, for example, when our heroine Violet is told 'Manners cost nothing,' she replies, 'Rudeness is also free.'
This is an historical romance with a difference!

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No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby is a delightful historical romance about a spirited woman who is ahead of her time.

Story Recap:
The year is 1896 and Violet, aged 28 is now past her marriage age and she’s determined never to marry. Violet’s mother went missing ten years ago, and she sets out to find out what happened to her. Her father is against her search, but Violet is a spirited young woman and she’s determined to do the search herself.

Will Violet find out what happened to her mother?

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed No Life for a Lady. As always when I read books set in this time period, I get frustrated with the limitations of being a woman during this time. However, it was fun to watch Violet ignore many of the rules and do her own thing. I loved her spirit and her ability to ignore social conventions.

The mystery of Violet’s mother's disappearance added to the story and I was fully invested in finding out what happened to her. The pacing in the middle bogged down a bit, but overall, I found the book to be very entertaining.

I highly recommend No Life for a Lady to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I laughed so much reading this book. Violet is a woman way ahead of her time, and doesn't have a problem speaking her mind and making it very clear what she wants and what she doesn't. Although her father wants her to get married, Violet makes up more ridiculous excuses each time, and you can't stop smiling at her creativity. She's sassy, independent (more independent than a women from the 1800s was), and won't stop at nothing to find the truth behind her mother's disappearance.

With the help of a detective, she sets on a journey to discover what really happened to her mom, and not even her father can stop her. There are a lot of hilarious moments, and this book definitely takes its readers on a rollercoaster of emotions.

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I liked the idea of this book, but it was slow and the plotting felt off. I had a very hard time staying interested in it for the majority of the book. I would say that the last quarter of it picked up the pace and I felt myself being more drawn into the story.

While I did end up enjoying the story and characters toward the end, it was a journey to get there. Violet had all the makings of a great female protagonist. She is determined, curious, and independent. At times though, she is naive and quite frustrating, but you can see her growth in the book.

Overall while I did enjoy the writing style and parts of the story, much of the book was slow and I found myself bored.

Thank you, Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I absolutely loved this book. It hooked me and kept me turning pages until I was done. Finished it in two days! The character development was strong, and the premise was unique enough that it didn't feel like anything else I've read.

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Violet Hamilton has maintained her singledom to the ripe age of 28, much to the chagrin of her father. It's not that there haven't been suitors, her father continually finds more, but she wants more from life than they can offer her.

As the 10 year anniversary for her mother's disappearance looms, Violet hires a detective to attempt to discover what happened. After meeting said detective, she feels defeated, but fate leads her to Benjamin Blackthorn. Although not a detective any longer, she convinces him to allow her to work on some community cases with him in exchange for lessons on the typewriter. Just maybe she can realise her dream of being a Lady Detective.

Together, will they discover the truth of what happened to Violet's mother? Or will there be far more at stake than Violet ever imagined?

This was a great crime novel and I loved that it came from an empowered young woman's perspective. It may be set in Victorian times, but Violet is doing her best to have her voice heard and to find justice for her beloved mother. I also appreciated that the vulnerabilities Violet faced in not having a mother during her entry to womanhood were voiced and we glimpsed into the lives of women with different experiences and social standing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am thankful to Netgalley, Author Hannah Dolby and Publisher Head of Zeus - Aria for this free ARC. I have happily written this review of my own volition and am excited for publication on March 2nd 2023!

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This quirky coming of age little tale tells the story of violet who is investigating her mothers disappearance 10 years ago from Hastings pier.

If you are in a reading slump look no further , this is a beautiful, fun easy to read book unlike any I have read in a while. It completely took me by surprise how quickly I engaged with the characters and plot and I hope this becomes a series as I can’t wait to follow the rest of violets adventures.

It was so charming and joyful I found myself smiling from the first page to the last. I can’t wait to devour more from this author!! I found it faultless and would highly recommend.

Thank you so much to the author, publisher and of course tandem and all my fellow readalong-ers for such a perfect readalong

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This was a delightful surprise! The main character Violet is vividly drawn an is so likeable and easy to root for in her quest to stay single and solve her mother's disappearance.

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I keep being surprised by these historical fiction novels- their cute covers do not disappoint! I was expecting a dramatic mystery with a strong, independent lady- instead, I got wishy-washy Violet, a creepy detective, a handful of carefree side plots, and a delightful giant.

I loved it.

To be fair, it took me a while to warm up to Violet. Trapped in her beautiful, missing mother's shadow, she tends toward the most naïve and blockheaded ideas, completely unaware of how the world works, but it's not her fault. I really just didn't want her to find out what happened to her mother, because her mother seems like a real jerk. However, Violet has a lot of great character growth, and her determination to learn and find her way in life was really fun to be part of, even with all the missteps (though why it took her 10 years to start, I don't know).

I am 100% in love with Benjamin Blackthorn- we LOVE a determined communicator! He appreciates Violet's determination, is amused by her odd behavior at times (getting herself locked in a box) but doesn't get flustered when she acts a little startled by his bluntness.

Although I've seen some complaints that the main mystery (missing mother) gets overshadowed by the other little "side quests," I found myself more interested in the fun extra characters that Ben and Violet investigate. They're harmless, a little silly, and make for a fast and easy read.

Overall, really fun little book that the author clearly enjoyed writing. I'll read more from Dolby, especially since I now know not to expect anyone in her books to take themselves too seriously.

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This a whimsical delight, with a naive but feisty heroine. There aren’t many plot surprises but somehow that doesn’t really matter much within the cosy mystery genre.

In Violet, an extremely innocent 28 year old spinster, the author has created a fantastic vehicle for both adventure and humour and the perfect set up for an ongoing series.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Head of Zeus Ltd for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Set at the end of the 19th century this cute story is told from the point of view of a not-so-young-lady (too old to be a spinsters in those days, that is) who wants to find out the truth about what happened to her mother. Her mother disappeared many years ago, but did she die or what happened? To fins out the truth she hires a private eye, or in fact, two of them.

I enjoyed the story as a whole, but at times it could have had a faster pace, and I found that some things were either not really explained to my satisfaction or then they just did not make sense in a way that I would have found it to be believable.

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