Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord – Celeste Connally

Apologies, readers, as I read this book a while ago, forgot to write a review, thought I wrote the review, and am now having to refresh my memory on the whole novel. With that opening sentence, you wouldn’t think I’d be recommending the book to you but, we have to chalk that up to the fact that I read a lot of books, because I really did like this one. I give it four stars and hope that it’s the start of a series!

Lady Petra Forsyth lost her fiance tragically, and while society pressures her to finally marry, she’s decided that she can’t find true love twice, so why bother? She has a fortune, an indulgent father, and has decided that the life of a spinster has more advantages than being married to some man who will gamble her money away. Upon her return to London from a stay at her father’s country estate, she hears the sad news that one of her friends passed away. However, one of the footmen swears that he saw the friend just a week ago. Thinking that both things can’t be true, Petra arranges to meet the footman – but he is killed before he can speak to her. Deeply aware that something is wrong, Petra sets out to find the truth of where her friend might be. 

Among the main plot of Petra’s investigation is the return of her childhood friend, Duncan. He joined the army immediately after Petra’s fiancee died and never returned any of Petra’s letters. The thread of their reunion is woven throughout the book, with Duncan being a key element and protector. As you know, I am a sucker for mystery-romance, so I really liked this tangent. It added more depth to Petra, which I liked. 

Not that Petra is a shallow character; she is well-rounded and perfectly aware that she’d be a pariah for announcing her spinsterhood if not for the support of the powerful society ladies, who just happen to like her. She’s logical and level-headed: Petra doesn’t need a secondary character to point out the truths of things, and she doesn’t do anything dramatic when she encounters Duncan – just acts like a hurt woman normally would. In short, Petra thinks and acts like a real woman, for the most part. She doesn’t make outlandish assumptions and is logical. I like her. 

This book has feminist tones, but I don’t think they’re overtly or overly stated. I appreciate that Connally used a realistic historical scenario for the mystery and highlighted an actual, scary problem for women of this period. This novel is believable because it could have been/was real – and that affects me more than anything else could. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord makes the reader sympathize and empathize with women’s limited options in Regency England, and it’s couched in a well-written mystery with a sprinkle of romance. At the end, I reflected on how likely of a candidate I would have been for [an unfortunate thing that would spoil the plot], and I hope that male and female readers alike do the same.

All in all, I’d say this was a great example of how to convey a message while being entertaining. Readers follow Petra through a well-plotted mystery, a crisis of conscience, and a budding romance, and they’re left thinking about just how far the treatment of women has come since the 1800’s. I, for one, am so glad I live now when I can wear pants and read without being thought a witch! I certainly doubt I would have been allowed to write a blog.

Oh – did I forget to mention the tantalizing cliffhanger at the end??

Published by SamIAmReading

I am an avid reader and lover of historical mysteries and romances, but happy to take review requests and expand my horizons! All opinions in this blog are my own and have been given freely.

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