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Then one of Agatha’s drawings goes too far and a villain threatens to reveal her true identity if she doesn’t comply with his demands. Now she has an impossible choice—ruin herself or an innocent young lady—and to her utter amazement the only person who can help her is Lord Addleson, whose handsome head, upon closer inspection, isn’t empty at all and whose eyes are full of mischief.
Suddenly, she finds it very difficult to be disagreeable to him.
Finally, Flora Hyde-Clare has wrest the narrative from Beatrice by finding her own compelling murder mystery to solve.
Well, it’s not entirely her own because the victim is her cousin’s former beau, Mr. Theodore Davies, whose father cruelly separated the young lovers (though not so cruelly, for it left the door open for Bea to woo the Duke of Kesgrave). Bea insists, of course, that the law clerk’s death was merely an accident. If only he had not been in the path of that wretched carriage!
Oh, but Flora knows that evasive look on her cousin’s face. Bea is hiding something. Clearly, Davies had gotten himself entangled in some nefarious business, and Flora is determined to discover the truth despite the danger it puts her in.
Or is that because it puts her in danger? After all, any heroine worth her salt must be willing to take on a great deal of personal risk. And Flora has her mind set on being a heroine of the highest order.
But her vexation doesn’t last long. For Emma is a practical young lady with a mission: to end her dear sister Lavinia’s engagement to the villainous (and dreadfully dull!) Sir Waldo Windbourne, and she thinks that the famous libertine is just the man for the job. If he would only seduce her sister away from Sir Waldo…. Well, not seduce exactly, but flirt mercilessly and engage her interest. Perhaps then Lavinia would jilt the baron. The Duke of Trent is resistant, of course. Despite his reputation, he does not toy with the affections of innocents. And besides, it’s not her sister he longs to seduce.
“A feisty heroine hiding behind a mousy facade…”
Twenty-six-year-old Beatrice Hyde-Clare is far too shy to investigate the suspicious death of a fellow guest in the Lake District. A spinster who lives on the sufferance of her relatives, she would certainly not presume to search the rooms of her host's son and his friend looking for evidence. Reared in the twin virtues of deference and docility, she would absolutely never think to question the imperious Duke of Kesgrave about anything, let alone how he chose to represent the incident to the local constable.
And yet when she stumbles upon the bludgeoned corpse of poor Mr. Otley in the deserted library of the Skeffingtons' country house, that's exactly what she does.
Praise for A Brazen Curiosity:
“Sparkling with wit and brimming with mystery”
“Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie”
“Amazingly charming, entertaining & just delightful”
“Intriguing, fast-paced and funny”
“Adorable cozy mystery & witty Regency”
Fortunately, Bea knows the perfect distraction—an intriguing mystery—and pays a call on the Countess of Abercrombie, who had promised her that very thing only the evening before.
But her ladyship is reluctant to discuss the details with a newly minted duchess-to-be, and it dawns on Bea that the investigation cuts closer to home than she could have ever imagined. Because this time the murder victims are her own mother and father, who had died twenty years before in a seemingly straightforward boating accident.
Alas, nothing is straightforward, and as Bea digs into her past, she discovers with growing horror that she has no more idea how to be a daughter than she does a duchess.
No, no, no! It doesn’t matter how many times the Duchess of Trent (The Harlow Hoyden) requests her help with a delicate matter regarding a patent for her sister’s invention, Tuppence Templeton will not lend a hand. She has a habit, yes, of coming up with ingenious plans to solve other people’s problems, and it is true that she’s clever and daring enough to pull off the proposed scheme. But there’s no way she’s going to confront the arrogant and dismissive Earl of Gage again. She is still shaken—or is it stirred?—from their last encounter when, rather than thank her for saving his sister from ruin, he railed against her for having the temerity to interfere in his family’s business. And yet somehow when the opportunity arises, she finds herself unable to resist issuing the challenge.
Nicholas Perceval, Earl of Gage, cannot believe it when the impertinent upstart who exposed his sister to disaster maneuvers him into escorting her to the Bill Patent Office. What a perfectly ridiculous request! And then to discover that she manipulated him while they were there so that she could “find” a missing application—he has never been so angry in his entire life. And it’s not because he’d unexpectedly enjoyed her charming and irreverent company. No, that has nothing to do with it at all. Although perhaps maybe a little…
Catherine pays no head to her ladyship’s lavish claim that she’ll have her engaged by the end of the season, but that’s before she overhears Arabella instructing the handsome nonpareil, the Marquess of Deverill, to flirt outrageously with her and bring her into fashion. Mortified, Catherine resolves not to be taken in by the charming marquess's cruel game—and even implements a very excellent scheme of her own. This sensible young lady seems to have everything well in hand. Or is she about to learn that her heart is a great deal less practical than her head?
Determined to head off further scandal (her name has already been recorded in the betting book at Brooks's!), Vinnie dashes off a polite note refusing the honor—which she has every intention of sending. Really. Only she can't help but chafe at the way everyone keeps demanding that she decline at once, even the marquess. Oh, especially the marquess, whose perfection she finds intolerable. Who ever heard of a gentleman being so handsome and so intelligent and so well informed about foreign flora? Clearly, the man needs to be taken down a peg, and somehow, despite all twenty-four years of faultless propriety, Vinnie is just the hoyden to do it.
It’s all so wretched.
But just as Bea begins to despair—a bright spot.
A neighboring house has suffered a ghastly tragedy, and although the constable deems it an inadvertent decapitation, she can’t believe anyone could be so careless as to accidentally lose his head. Determined to discover the truth, the new duchess pays her first social call. Because even if she can’t find her way around her palatial home, she certainly knows her way around a murder.
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.
Truly, she has no interest at all. Except the dagger that killed the poor earl seemed disconcertingly familiar…
And so Bea is off to the British Museum because she cannot rest until she confirms her suspicion, while trying to allay her family’s concerns and comprehend the Duke of Kesgrave’s compulsion. For the handsome lord has no reason to waste his time solving a mystery alongside a shy spinster. And yet he turns up everywhere she goes.
Fortunately for her, a fellow guest from a Lake District house party appears on her doorstep with exactly that: the lover of his fiancée's mother expired after a wretchedly painful episode just that morning in an apparent poisoning. As unorthodox as it is, he would like Bea to investigate rather than calling the authorities.
Bea begins her inquiry into Mr. Wilson's death at once and almost immediately finds herself in the company of Kesgrave, who is as determined as ever to assist her. 'Twas patently unfair, for the whole point of the investigation was to get away from the handsome lord.
Now Bea is faced with the daunting challenge of exposing the villain without revealing her heart.