Book Review: A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem (A Lady’s Guide #1)

Published November 10th 2020 

Author: Manda Collins

England, 1865 : As one of England’s most notorious newspaper columnists, Lady Katherine Bascomb believes knowledge is power. And she’s determined to inform and educate the ladies of London on the nefarious-and deadly-criminals who are praying on the fairer sex. When her reporting leads to the arrest of a notorious killer, however, Katherine flees to a country house party to escape her newfound notoriety-only to witness a murder on her very first night. And when the lead detective accuses Katherine of inflaming-rather than informing-the public with her column, she vows to prove him wrong.

Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham’s refusal to compromise his investigations nearly cost him his own career, and he blames Katherine. To avoid bad publicity, his superiors are pressuring him to solve cases quickly rather than correctly. When he discovers she’s the key witness in a new crime, he’s determined to prevent the beautiful widow from once again wreaking havoc on his case. Yet as Katherine proves surprisingly insightful and Andrew impresses Katherine with his lethal competency, both are forced to admit the fire between them is more flirtatious than furious. But to explore the passion between them, they’ll need to catch a killer.

I had A Lady’s Guide for Mischief and Mayhem on my TBR for a while, but it, unfortunately was put on the backburner. When I received the ARC for the sequel (which can be read as a standalone), I decided to try this novel before moving on to the new release. This novel first appealed to me, as it was a new-ish take on the historical (Victorian) romance as it mixes in a murder mystery. While this concept has been done before, it is always fun to see how the author weaves the two genres together. In this story, there is a murderer to catch and romance on the horizon in an enemies to lovers romance.

Lady Katherine Bascomb owns and runs a London newspaper that used to belong to her late husband. As she is frustrated with society sheltering women from certain topics, such as murder, she decides to begin a column called Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem with her friend, and writer, Caroline (Caro) Hardcastle. After Kate’s article about the Commandment Killer provides a new piece of evidence, head investigator, Andrew Eversham, is removed from the case. He is reinstated, however, after a new murder occurs and Kate and Andrew must work together to solve the case.

With two genres coming together in a single story, one usually is a little more prominent than the other is. In this case, the romance outshines the mystery. While there is still clues for the reader to follow as the characters work to solve the case, it is not a high stakes tension filled novel like one would expect in a thriller mystery novel. There is still the element of mystery as the clues come together, which was enjoyable. The romance is slow burn to the reader in the sense that the first portion of the novel focused more on the mystery with some acknowledgement of the attraction before moving into the relationship rather than the building of the will-they-won’t-they.

As characters, Kate is clever and assertive. She is the standout working for change in society. There were times when she was frustrating, as she would assert herself in situations just to show that she can while ignoring any potential dangers. While this character trait is part of her development as the story progresses, I wished there was a little more exploration. For me, to make this trait seem more accepting, a little more backstory into her thought process would have helped. The banter between her and Andrew was greatly enjoyable. It was nice how Kate showed Andrew a different side to things, not only to give a new perspective to the mystery, but also to women in general.

Overall, there are many things to love about this novel and some that I wished were improved upon a little more. Kate and Caro became best friends recently, yet they knew everything about the other. Kate’s motivations in some decisions are what held her back for me. She is upset if Andrew tells her to do something yet she is a reporter inserting herself into a police investigation. For me, it hindered my enjoyment of the novel, as there did not seem to substance behind it. More exploration into her character would have changed my perception of her decisions and I think given a more complete picture of her character. While I may not love everything about this story, it is still a very fun read and worth giving a try. As I loved Caro, I cannot wait to try her story in the sequel!

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