Third book in the series. . .
Sir Charles Sheridan is many things — an amateur scientist, a renowned photographer, and a skilled detective. And due to long-established customs still held in Victorian England, he will soon become a baron — rendering him unable to marry Kate Ardleigh, an Irish-American writer of the popular, yet frowned upon “penny dreadfuls”. Even as the customs of the time keep them apart, a good murder case always seems to bring them together. The Countess of Warwick, the Prince of Wales’ mistress affectionately known as “Daisy”, is the subject of endless rumors about her “unladylike” ways and temperament. But what happens during a weekend party at her Easton estate is uglier than any rumor. First, a stableboy is killed. Then a nobleman is murdered outside Daisy’s well-known trysting spot. Seeking to avoid scandal, the Prince of Wales orders Sir Charles to solve the case.
3rd in the Victorian/Edwardian Mystery series
ISBN: 0-425-15671-0 (Berkley)
Finished: 5 Sep 2006
Who: Kathryn Ardleigh and Sir Charles Sheridan
When: November 1895 – Charles is 34 and Kate is 27.
This story was about real people. Daisy Brooke was the real-life mistress of Prince of Wales, AKA “Bertie”. Her influence over the prince caused some concerns as she had socialist ideas.
In this fictional story, Queen Victoria has charged Sir Friedrich Temple to do whatever necessary to “clean up” after the prince and end Daisy’s influence. Though he only intended blackmail, his co-conspirator Milford Knightly accidently kills a stableboy, and then murders Lord Reginald Wallace. Kate and Charles are able to solve the case, but as Sir Friedrich was acting on orders of the Queen, the worst the Prince of Wales can do is exile him to India. Knightly, on the other hand, is killed trying to escape on horseback. We learn from the author’s notes that Daisy’s relationship with the prince will only survive a year or two longer. She will be replaced by Alice Keppel, who has the distinction of being the ancestress of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwell, wife of the current Prince of Wales.
One of the significant events, for the series, is that Charles learns his childless brother is dying. This means he will shortly become the 5th Baron of Somersworth. At first, he believes that this will change his plans to finally ask Kate to marry him. He assumes she would not wish to marry into the British nobility. However, as they are standing over a dead body, the pair finally declare their love. Charles, much to Kate’s relief, is surprised — but not upset — to learn that she is Bardwell and he insists that she continue writing as long as she desires.
My pet peeve: Charles is not Lord Sheridan. Nor will Kate be Lady Kate. The correct form of address for the future baron and baroness, until Robert dies, is Sir Charles and Lady Sheridan. When Charles becomes the 5th Baron of Somersworth, they will be known as the Right Honorable Lord and Lady Somersworth.
Daisy’s favorite poem:
Be fair or foul, or rain or shine,
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power;
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
— John Dryden