A Purely Private Matter (Rosalind Thorne)
by Darcie Wilde
Cover Artist: Matthieu Forichon
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Trade Paperback / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425282380
Date: 02 May 2017 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A Purely Private Matter takes place in Regency London. The Regency was a time of flux as many changes were occurring. A rich merchant class was making inroads into upper-class society as those at the top who needed money to keep their place in society found that marrying a daughter of a merchant with a very large dowry was a way to become solvent or pay gambling debts. The Bow Street runners were developing as an actual police force. Science and invention were changing the way many activities had been done. However, women still didn't have many options especially if they were single and lacking funds.
Rosalind Thorne's options were very limited. Her father and oldest sister had deserted the family late one night. This left Rosalind and her mother with depleted bank accounts, no ready cash, and the discovery that her father had not only been living on credit, but even forging signatures on notes to cover his bad decisions. Rosalind sold everything that could be sold to cover debts. She couldn't work and maintain her ability to move within the level of society that she'd belonged to, and so she had to improvise.
In A Useful Woman, Rosalind balances her need to earn a living against maintaining her social standing by taking on the office of helping those with potentially damaging social issues overcome them and then accepting those clients gratitude for the assistance – thus being able to maintain her own very small establishment and being acceptable to society.
A Purely Personal Matter opens just as Rosalind is in the process of completing her plan to save Mrs. Devery from a devastating circumstance that could destroy her husband's status as well as her own. In the course of this effort, Rosalind believes that she heard her sister's voice in an unexpected place. What could Charlotte be doing back in London? How can she find out if it was really her sister?
However, the search for her sister has to wait as Rosalind's friend Alice Littlefield brings Mrs. Margarette Seymore to visit. It seems Mrs. Seymore's husband has been receiving anonymous notes stating that Margarette is having an affair. Mr. Seymore is looking to sue Fletcher Cavendish, her supposed lover, for Criminal Conversation. Margarette swears she's not having an affair and needs help to save her marriage.
Rosalind agrees to look into the matter, but she believes that something isn't ringing true with Margarette's story. Shortly after meeting Fletcher Cavendish, he turns up dead in his dressing room at the theater where he is a very, very, popular member of the troupe. Once again Rosalind finds herself inadvertently involved in a murder investigation and perhaps to working again with Mr. Adam Harkness, a senior investigator at Bow Street.
Wilde's writing pulls the reader into the story and immerses them in the period. There are helpful non-obtrusive asides and chapter heading quotes that give the reader extra information to understand the societal and cultural norms that add extra difficulty in unraveling the motives and interconnections that are needed to solve the murder.
A Purely Private Matter has intrigue, inheritance, jealousy, family loyalty and rivalry, and social standing, all rolled into a tightly woven tale that keeps the pages turning until the end where you find yourself wishing for more.