A Most Intriguing Lady

A Most Intriguing Lady

by Sarah Ferguson

1 out of 5

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER From Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, a sweeping, romantic compulsively readable historical saga about a Duke’s daughter—the perfect Victorian lady—who secretly moonlights as an amateur sleuth for high society’s inner circle.  Victorian London was notorious for its pickpockets. But in the country houses of the elite, gentleman burglars, art thieves and con men preyed on the rich and titled. Wealthy victims—with their pride and reputation at stake—would never go to the police. What they needed was a society insider, one of their own, a person of discretion and finely tuned powers of observation, adept at navigating intrigue. That person was Lady Mary Montagu Douglas Scott, the youngest child of Queen Victoria’s close friends the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. Bookish, fiercely intelligent, and a keen observer, Mary has deliberately cultivated a mousey persona that allows her to remain overlooked and significantly underestimated by all. It’s the perfect cover for a sleuth, a role she stumbles into when trying to assist a close friend during a house party hosted by her parents at their stately Scottish home, Drumlanrig Castle. It is at this party where Lady Mary also meets Colonel Walter Trefusis, a distinguished and extremely handsome war veteran. Tortured by memories of combat, Walter, like Mary, lives a double life, with a desk job in Whitehall providing a front for his role in the British Intelligence Service. The two form an unlikely alliance to solve a series of audacious crimes—and indulge in a highly charged on-off romance. Pacy, romantic, and fun,  A Most Intriguing Lady  documents one remarkable woman’s ability to be both the perfect lady, and a perfectly talented detective...and, of course, to find love too.

Lady Mary is a dormouse with a secret, and Colonel Trefusis is a spymaster who may have met his match.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the second book in the Buccleuch Family, but serves as a standalone.

Our main narrators are Mary, the youngest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.
She has led an isolated life, with her parents and older siblings having little time for her. The silver lining has meant that she has been free to develop her own mind and interests; and only pretends to be a meek and mindless young lady when her parents, or other members of society are around.
She fears being made to marry, and step into the suffocating role of mother and wife.
She is also very adept at solving problems subtly, and is careful to resolve issues without hurting the reputation of people, if she can help it.

Colonel Trefusis, or Tre as Mary calls him, is a survivor of the last war. Now, he is establishing a network of spies, to try and prevent future wars, or minimise the damage.
He witnesses one of Mary's daring moves, and later witnesses the meek persona she has established. He finds himself drawn to help her when problems arise.

There is also a third narrator - Mary's mother, the Duchess of Buccleuch.
I found Charlotte's sections jarring, and not fitting with the rest of the book. I didn't think they added anything to the story. They didn't give us a better view of the main characters, or the plot, or anything else.
It was mildly interesting to read how Charlotte's fine society marriage started strongly, but they've since drifted apart.

I did not like this book, which is such a shame, because it had a great premise. A lady detective, and a spymaster, set in the Victorian era, where feminism is just starting to emerge.

I thought the book was badly written.
The plot has some good ideas, but it was really poorly executed.
There are three main mysteries crammed into this book. And it all felt like a rushed affair.
The first wasn't a mystery.
The second had a culprit who didn't exist in the book until after Mary had already visited him, and decided he was the behind the embezzlement. You don't even get to see this interaction, Mary tells Tre about it after the fact, which I thought was a poor and rushed choice.
The third is the biggest and most dangerous assignment - but when I saw that there was only about 10% left of the book, and Mary was just completing her training - I was disheartened, because how could this big job be explored properly in less than 40 pages (and wrap up the romantic element, too).

I didn't like our main characters.
They were both dunces, but particularly Mary.
We are repeatedly told how independent and ingenious Mary is, but she comes across as whiny, and woe-is-me. She makes no visible effort to create a life for herself - we are told that she does some lady detective work, but for most of the book, she's meekly following her mother, generally unhappy and dissatisfied with everything.
Her investigating skills leave a lot to be desired. She jumps to conclusions, ignoring any facts that don't fit her theory. She then manages to "finagle" (bluntly ask for) information that supports her theory from the staff.
(I'm a fan of Miss Scarlet and the Duke and was hoping for something in a similar vein, but was sorely disappointed.)


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