In A Brazen Curiosity by Lynn Messina, shy spinster Beatrice Hyde-Clare transforms into a witty sleuth when she discovers a body at a house party. With the insufferable Duke of Kesgrave at her side, this clever historical mystery is full of charm!

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A Brazen Curiosity by Lynn Messina

A Brazen Curiosity by Lynn Messina

Beatrice Hyde-Clare #1
August 5, 2018

Read this if you want:

  • House party mystery
  • Hero falls first
  • Clever/witty dialogue

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Plain and shy spinster Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare is used to being overlooked. Orphaned at age five, she has lived under the sufferance of her aunt and uncle for the past 21 years. Unfortunately, she is never quite as clever and witty in company as she is in her head. Instead Bea succumbs to meek silence…or horrifyingly enough a stutter. Whilst at a house party in the Lake District she fully expects to be her usual plain boring self. Which, is why she shocks her aunt and cousins, but mostly herself, when she starts questioning certain pedantic and far-too-handsome duke’s, interrogating servants and sneaking around dark hallways at night. However, what is one to do when they find a dead body in the library? Especially when no one else seems to be interested in investigating his very suspicious demise.

It’s that time of year when I am in the mood for a little bit of murder. Well, it could be argued that I am always in that mood if you judge by my podcast feed. However, the dark evenings and cold nights are the perfect atmosphere to pick up something dark and intriguing. Of course, contrary to what is popular, I usually like my books to be as dark as a bright winter morning. Which, is why A Brazen Curiosity, a light hearted historical mystery romp through Regency England is perfect. Not that it doesn’t have slightly dark undertones if one thinks about things carefully. Our heroine Bea lives in a home where she’s constantly belittled and made to feel like a burden. The only thing that doesn’t make this a gloomy tale of familial abuse is Bea’s own sharp wit, compassion and astute observations. Her family may not show any affection for Bea, but their ridiculousness makes it hard to take them seriously.

However, the focus of A Brazen Curiosity is Bea’s emergence from her dull cocoon, as catalysed by discovering a body bashed in by a candlestick in the library. Cluedo vibes anyone? When the murder is ridiculously pronounced as a suicide the next morning due to the interference of a certain insufferable know-it-all duke, Bea feels like it is her duty to investigate the death. This is when the formerly shy and meek Bea unleashes her not inconsiderate intellect and wits. It was a delight to see Bea grow into herself and gain some confidence as she begins to uncover secrets and scandals the victim has tried to hide. Her funny observations and quick thinking had me glued to the page and the book quickly sailed by as I eagerly kept reading. I needed to see what Bea would do and say next.

At heart though I am a romance reader, and besides witnessing Bea’s character growth, the other aspect of the book that had me stuck to the pages was Bea’s relationship with the Duke of Kesgrave. This book had an enemies to lovers vibe, although full disclosure there is no “lovers” part of this book. The book starts with Bea intensely disliking him. Kesgrave is pompous, self-important and likes to correct people and show off his own knowledge; he’s a pedant. This changes throughout the book as Bea and Kesgrave join forces to investigate the murder. They both start to develop a respect for one another and Bea realises that perhaps her first impression of him wasn’t entirely correct.

Bea and Kesgrave end this book as comrades and perhaps friends. However, I believe that this relationship will continue to develop in other books. It’s clear from Kesgrave’s behaviour, even if Bea is oblivious to it, that he’s developed feelings for her. And, if there’s two tropes I love it is when the hero falls first and a heroine who is completely oblivious to it. Delicious!

If you are looking for a feel good read that is funny, with a clever, witty heroine, and the beginnings of a romance with a seemingly stuffy duke, then this is the book for you. I loved it, although it was an easy read, that didn’t mean it wasn’t clever and engaging, because it was and I already have the second book downloaded to my kindle.

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