Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen (2018)

Review by CJ

Page count:



After the death of Lady Helena’s first love, she lost herself and remained desolate until her future-husband managed to draw her out. Now that she is a widow, Lady Helena finds herself stronger than she ever thought.

It is with this strength that she must face her overbearing family, new responsibilities and allegations that her husband’s death was no accident.

Lady Helena Investigates is the first novel in the Scott-De Quincy Mysteries series.

One of the most compelling aspects of Lady Helena Investigates is the overbearing family. Because she is the youngest daughter, her siblings talk down to Helena, try to take her land and bully her into doing things for them. I kept hoping Lady Helena would tell her siblings, and even her lady’s maid, to EAD — but this is why I’m not a member of British aristocracy. Instead, Lady Helena attends to (nearly) all of her familial frustrations with grace and poise.

In terms of plot, the mystery aspect felt like a subplot and the primary purpose of the novel seemed to be introducing the forbidden romance and the characters while ensuring they developed over the course of the given year. This didn’t detract from the quality of the mysteries or the overall plot, but I do look forward to seeing the character embark on more adventurous mysteries in future novels.

There were a couple of threads that were left hanging, which is to be expected for the first novel in a series. Though I have my suspicious on both, I will say no more for fear of spoilers. However, don’t think this finishes all wrapped up in a neat little package.

I liked the pacing of Lady Helena Investigates for a Victorian period novel. It’s not dull but it doesn’t have non-stop action either. It builds up to its peaks and has some unexpected spikes throughout. The story is well written and, while clothing is often mentioned in passing, it doesn’t fall into the trap that some similar novels do — boring the reader with excessive fashion minutiae. Granted, this may not bother some readers and others may thoroughly enjoy hearing about the size buttons on someone’s cuffs, but unless they’re relevant to the plot or skimmed over, I just don’t care. I was glad this wasn’t the case in Lady Helena Investigates.

I enjoyed Lady Helena Investigates far more than I ever thought I would and now eagerly await it’s follow-up. If you enjoy period dramas with an element of mystery to them, then Lady Helena Investigates is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Curl up with a pot of tea and some almond biscuits for atmosphere.



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