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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review: A Treacherous Performance

Title: A Treacherous Performance: A Regency Cozy
Author: Lynn Messina
Publisher: 15th November 2019 by Potatoworks Press
Pages: 220 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: mystery, historical fiction/romance, Regency
My Rating: 4 cups

Having inexplicably nabbed the Duke of Kesgrave, twenty-six-year-old spinster Beatrice Hyde-Clare is determined to marry him at once and no amount of handwringing from anxious family members, worried friends and well-meaning acquaintances will convince her to delay. Except…maybe she is a little swayed by her uncle’s efforts to make amends for treating her with cold indifference during her childhood. And her aunt’s concern about the growing scandal around her unfortunate habit of unmasking murderers in the middle of society events isn’t entirely unfounded.
And then there’s the truly unfathomable appearance on her doorstep of the former Miss Brougham, the spiteful heiress whose cruel taunts derailed Bea’s social career. Remarkably, the society matron has a mystery to solve and knows Bea is the only person who can help her. A dead grandfather, a missing jewel, a cryptic letter, an opportunity to condescend to her archnemesis—the case seems simple enough.
And yet somehow it all goes terribly, horribly wrong.
My Thoughts

“He merely sighed resignedly and said, “Oh, hell, Bea, another dead body?”

I have been a fan since I first read Lynn’s, ‘Prejudice and Pride’ some years ago. Following up with reads from some of her Regency series, have only confirmed that time and again she produces fun and entertaining escapism with a wicked mystery thrown in for good measure. She is without doubt a most witty and clever author of the Regency period.

Here we have another great installment in the Beatrice-Hyde Clare mysteries, continuing on with the charming yet quirky read.  This is number five in the series. Once more you will find historic detail (this time immersion in a theatre company), a murder to be solved, romance and all tied together with humour. 

The two main leads of Beatrice and her now betrothed Kesgrave are one of my favourite couples - right up there with some of the classic couples from Deanna Raybourn - Lady Julia Grey or Veronica Speedwell - heroines and partners - it’s romping good Regency fun. Their interactions are the highlight of the books - wit and banter that cannot help but bring a smile to your face. To once again spend time with Bea and Kesgrave, for their relationship has advanced further, and the warmth and wit is in full throttle. What I appreciated most with this particular instalment were their interactions felt more in unison and made a great team.

“I gave you the opportunity to shine. And you are very welcome. Now do stop angling for compliments and tell me what you think of our suspects.”

The only thing to consider is that I feel this is not really a standalone. The first 20% picks up directly after the conclusion of the last book and will be somewhat confusing if the reader is unfamiliar with previous plots and characters. You may get away with reading it as a standalone, but why try when there are four earlier stories that await and are just as engaging and will bring a fuller appreciation of the lives of Bea and the Duke. I recommend that you read these books together as a series and in order. It's the best way to truly appreciate the wonder that is Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare.

I am a fan of all Lynn’s Regency novels and for good reason. For there is nothing better than having light, entertaining escapism with a well thought out mystery and characters whose dialogue and thoughts are the eptimoy of humour that await you at the end of a long day. Having undertaken this journey with Bea from the beginning, it is wonderful to see how far she has come and grown into herself. Such depth cannot be overlooked it what is a most definite ‘cozy’ mystery. 

“... (I am) struck dumb by you - by your wit and your fearlessness and your intelligence and your sense of humor, so mischievous and sharp, and your beauty.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author.

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