Consequences of Sin

Consequences of Sin by Clare Langley-Hawthorne. The cataloger at the library must not have read any of this story before slapping a “mystery” label on it, because this volume should be firmly placed on the historical romance shelf instead. On a misty October night in 1910 London, Ursula Marlow is called to the scene of a murder at the home of one of her best friends, Winifred Stanford-Jones. Ursula’s immediate action is to call in Lord Wrotham, her father’s most trusted adviser, and then allows him to shove her out the back door to protect her reputation. This deference to a strong male would not be a problem except readers are supposed to believe that Ursula is a “modern” woman, an Oxford graduate, politically active in fighting with the women’s suffragette movement and for trade unions and with a Bolshevik ex-lover. Unfortunately, the rest of the book, especially the relationship between Ursula and Wrotham, continues in this vein with overly melodramatic scenes such as the one in which she pretends to faint in order to avoid a confrontation with her father. The mystery itself isn’t too bad with one particularly nice twist in the middle, but by the time Ursula develops a backbone, independently investigates the mystery and confronts the killer, readers should have figured out the puzzle and her metamorphosis doesn’t hold much interest.

A second book in the series is due out soon and from the plot description, Ursula’s growth continues and the fact that Wrotham is not mentioned is a hopeful sign. I want to support new writers, especially those based in my home town, and will probably give Langley-Hawthorne another shot, but it won’t be a first choice read.

Fans of the Victorian/Edwardian eras who like romance mixed in with their mysteries would be better served by Tasha Alexander’s series featuring Lady Emily Ashton and Colin Hargreaves. And for those who want more mystery and less romance, I recommend “The Riddle of the River” by Catherine Shaw and “A Flaw in the Blood” by Stephanie Barron.

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