Book Review: A Counterfeit Suitor (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #5) by Darcie Wilde

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: November 30th, 2021
Pages: 304, hardcover
Source: NetGalley

Among the ton of Regency London, one breath of scandal can be disastrous. Enter Rosalind Thorne, a young woman adept at helping ladies of quality navigate the most delicate problems—in this charming mystery series inspired by the novels of Jane Austen…

It is every mama’s dearest wish that her daughter marries well. But how to ensure that a seemingly earnest suitor is not merely a fortune hunter? Rosalind is involved in just such a case, discreetly investigating a client’s prospective son-in-law, when she is drawn into another predicament shockingly close to home.

Rosalind’s estranged father, Sir Reginald Thorne—a drunkard and forger—has fallen into the hands of the vicious scoundrel Russell Fullerton. Angered by her interference in his blackmail schemes, Fullerton intends to unleash Sir Reginald on society and ruin Rosalind. Before Rosalind’s enemy can act, Sir Reginald is found murdered—and Fullerton is arrested for the crime. He protests his innocence, and Rosalind reluctantly agrees to uncover the truth, suspecting that this mystery may be linked to her other, ongoing cases.

Aided by her sister, Charlotte, and sundry friends and associates—including handsome Bow Street Runner Adam Harkness—Rosalind sets to work. But with political espionage and Napoleon loyalists in the mix, there may be more sinister motives, and far higher stakes, than she ever imagined… 

Rosalind Thorne, a “useful woman,” is back in A Counterfeit Suitor by Darcie Wilde. Having recently rejected a duke’s proposal, and having lost her housekeeper because of that choice, Rosalind is a bit adrift. Fortunately, her friend Alice is there to ground her, as she faces the greatest threat yet to her hard-won freedom.

Women of that era were rarely independent. Even if they built solid lives for themselves, it could be taken away by the courts and given to a male relative. So when Rosalind’s felon father escapes from her sister’s caretaking and is taken in by her enemy, she is understandably knocked for a loop. This happens at the same time as she is trying to organize a charity ball and help an anxious mother keep her daughter from possibly eloping. There are undercurrents there that threaten to sweep Rosalind away.

When Rosalind’s father is murdered, suspicion falls on her family, including her courtesan sister. Complicating the investigation are Rosalind’s feelings for Bow Street detective Adam Harkness, who is assigned to investigate the case. 

Wilde has written a wonderful mystery within a mystery for Rosalind to unravel. Bonapartists, blackmailers, forgers, and gamblers all combine in a knotty puzzle. It’s also good to see her interactions with Alice, and her childhood friend, Sebastian Faulks. Most of all, though, it’s good to see her start to examine her feelings for Adam, and admit to herself, and others, that she cares for him.

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