Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean

Bellfield Hall by Anna DeanBellfield Hall (Dido Kent Mystery #1) by Anna Dean
Published: Minotaur Books (2008), Hardcover, 304pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard's shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance. It's going to take a lot of logical thinking to untangle the complex threads of this multi-layered mystery, and Miss Dido Kent is just the woman to do it.

For some reason I was under the impression that this was more romance heavy than it was? And I think that’s the fault of one of the inside cover blurbs, because it emphasized the romantic elements when, really, the romantic plot is so small it’s not even really a subplot. Is there something smaller than a subplot? 

I wanted more of it, whatever it was. It was sweet and interesting– historical romances with a spinster heroine and a widower hero are SO rare!– and I think a heavier romance aspect would have given the book the extra oomph I was looking for.

How awesome is it that this is a Regency mystery with a spinster detective? The correct answer is obviously SO AWESOME, because it is. I particularly liked Dido, too, because she’s fierce about solving mysteries in a nice, Regency era-appropriate kind of way. I also liked the secondary characters, especially Catherine, Dido’s niece, who has shades of the more energetic Georgette Heyer heroines. 

However, like I said above, I think the story needed something extra. In this case the concept of the story was more exciting than the actual story. It just never escalated into “this is amazing” territory for me. I’m not sure why, either! Was it just disappointment over the misleading blurb? Or was it because I was disappointed with the book itself?

I feel like its a combination of the two. Yes, I wanted more romance, but what I did have wasn’t all that fabulous, either. I probably won’t be continuing onward in the series, though I do appreciate how unique Dido and her books are in the world of historical mystery novels.

Read: April 28-29, 2014

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