Series: Duchess of Blackmoore Mysteries #1
Publication Date: 5/1/21
Period: ?? Not Apparent – Sometime before trains and cars
Number of Pages: 290
Since I don’t read the paranormal genre, I certainly surprised myself when I decided to purchase – and then enjoyed – this book. The mystery is well-plotted and well presented, with just enough obscure clues to cause you frustration, yet keep you reading. This is a new-to-me author and I enjoyed her writing style which captures the more formal speaking style of earlier historical periods. There wasn’t enough information within the story to get a grasp of the period in which the story takes place, and that always annoys me – couldn’t somebody just put a date at the beginning of the first chapter or something?
Lenora Hastings has a gift – or a curse – depending on your point of view. She sees and communicates with dead people and has done so her entire life. While it all seems perfectly normal to Lenora, the adults in her life can’t deal with it – when she was six, her father left and her mother turned her over to a nunnery soon after. When the nuns couldn’t deal with it, they turned her over to Headmistress Williamson at St. Mary’s Orphanage for Girls, where she lived for the next ten years. The headmistress didn’t care for Lenora nor her abilities, so she never recommended Lenora for placement into any of the employment opportunities that came to the orphanage’s occupants. Lenora was totally shocked when she was told to pack her things at once as she was leaving immediately. Lenora was excited to be going to the Highlands even though she had no idea what position her employment required. Maybe she would be a governess, or a companion, or – scullery maid, she didn’t care, she was out of the orphanage. When she finally learned what position was being offered, her jaw dropped.
Robert Fletcher, Duke of Blackmoore, has been a widower for three years. He has suffered greatly for those years because he loved his wife and cannot imagine what could possibly have caused her to take her own life. When he hears rumors of a young woman at an orphanage – one who can communicate with the dead – he immediately has her tracked down and investigated to see if she is the real article. He then has her summoned to Blackmoore Castle where he offers her marriage and a life of luxury in exchange for her ‘special’ skills. He needs her to communicate with Annie, the former Duchess of Blackmoore, to find out why she took her own life.
Annie is one very angry and confused ghost. She’s hard to communicate with because she doesn’t speak to Lenora in any way. She projects feelings and does other things and Lenora has to guess at their meanings. That communication process is very slow, dangerous, and vexing. Will Lenora be able to figure it all out before it is too late?
I enjoyed the other tangents of the story aside from the main mystery. It was lovely to see the duke come to care for Lenora and to demonstrate that caring by his actions in regard to her friend Tillie and also in regard to Headmistress Williamson.
I could have easily rated this at five stars, but there were just too many historical inaccuracies that I just couldn’t get past them. Proper forms of address were all over the place – sometimes they were correct, but mostly they weren’t. Then there was the ‘adoption’ when formal legal adoptions didn’t happen until sometime in the 1900s. Before then, there were guardianships or wardships, etc. An ‘adopted’ child could not have become the duke’s heir – the title would have gone to the duke’s brother, etc. anyway – lots of historical errors in an otherwise great mystery.