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A Useful Woman

(Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,836 ratings  ·  286 reviews
Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high societyincluding who among the ton is capable of murder...
The daughter of a baronet and minor heiress, Rosalind Thorne was nearly ruined after her father abandoned the family. To survive
Paperback, 357 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Berkley (first published May 2nd 2016)
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QNPoohBear Pg/PG-13 depending on how much blood they chose to show and what liberties Hollywood would take with the story. As is, there's not anything there that…morePg/PG-13 depending on how much blood they chose to show and what liberties Hollywood would take with the story. As is, there's not anything there that would offend Georgette Heyer. Jane Austen would wish for some humor and romance. (less)

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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the Regency era.
Copy gifted by the author, posted to me by Sarah C one of the moderators of the Jane Austen Group. Thanks very much for that.

This book isn't Heyerish (a definite point in it's favour - most of GH's imitators turn out very shoddy work!) but it does contain two things that pop up often in Heyer's Regency works- the very exclusive social club Almack's

As has often been mentioned in Regency works, Almack's wasn't comfortable or even attractive, served bad refreshments and the patronesses were
A Useful Woman had a bit of a ponderous start and was in serious danger of getting bogged down in too many details of propriety and drawing room niceties. The Regency era is one of my comfort settings, but something needs to happen within that setting for me to stay interested, and that needs to happen pretty quickly. Here, it did set the stage for the tightrope that Rosalind is walking, but I wish the touch had been a bit lighter and the action had started sooner.

Thankfully, a murder did
Rosalind Thorne is an impoverished gentlewoman who makes a living being useful to members of the haut ton. Once she had it all- family, fortune and love; then it all went away when her father ran off, leaving behind a mountain of debts. Rosalind's Mama was unable to cope with the situation so Lady Blanchard, Rosalind's godmother, stepped in to help. Rosalind owes everything to Lady Blanchard and now Lord Blanchard is being transferred to Koningsberg, Rosalind needs to find her own way. When the ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
(Rosalind Thorne Mysteries: #1)
Written by Darcie Wilde
2016; Berkley (384 Pages)
Genre: series, fiction, mystery, cozy, romance

RATING: ★★★1/2

Rosalind Thorne, a daughter of a baronet, is dreaming of her future with the man she loves when one night her mother and her return home early from a party. Her older sister is quickly packing and fleeing into the night. It seems her father is in financial trouble and has chosen to abandon his wife and youngest daughter to runaway. After her
This book was an all-around fabulous surprise. It did the job of setting up a new series, offering up a cunning mystery plot, challenging characters, and the history came alive in this one. It was one of those books where I started it late at night with the whole 'I'll just read one or two chapters' chestnut and ended up finishing half in one sitting. And then the next day, I was in a feverish need to get back to the story. Was this some exciting pulse-pounding thriller? Nope, but it was ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, aar, mystery-thriller
A Useful Woman is the first in a new series of mysteries set in the Regency period featuring Rosalind Thorne, a young lady of good birth who, through no fault of her own has fallen upon hard times. Even though it's a murder-mystery, it's a very gentle and rather "polite" story, which I suppose befits the time in which it is set. There are no gritty looks at real life or characters with ISSUES, so the book might suit someone looking for a change of pace from the current trend for grisly, tortuous ...more
Abigail Bok
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
The blurb for this book does it a disservice. Using the phrase inspired by the novels of Jane Austen raises a series of expectations that A Useful Woman is destined to disappoint. Thats unfortunate, because its quite a good novel for what it really is.

What it is, is a historical mystery. There are the usual romanceus interruptus elements that you find in mystery fiction today (but no marriage plot), there is mayhem, there are unanswered questions, there is an investigation, there is peril and an
Tracie Banister
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I heard about this book on a forum of Historical Romance readers and thought the premise was intriguing, so I decided to give it a whirl. The protagonist of A Useful Woman isn't your typical Regency Era heroine who's a starry-eyed miss attending balls and hoping to snag the perfect titled husband. Rosalind Thorne has no hopes of a good match as she's broke and her family name's been disgraced by her profligate father. Forced to make her own way, Rosalind is now a social secretary to various high ...more
3.5 stars. This read like it should be a television or movie plot. It was very interesting, well done and I liked the mystery and the setting of the whole story among the Almack ton. I really liked (view spoiler). Didn't really feel close to Rosalind, she was hard to get a read on even though she was the main character hence the 3 star rating. I already have book 2 checked out from the library though ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Was super into this. I keep stumbling across it, and so decided to read it today.

I keep wanting historical mystery series where women, instead of just ignoring the constraints and conventions of their time, are forced to operate within them. This is definitely one of those. I mean, I'm sure it's not 100% accurate, but it's accurate enough. It's accurate by historical fiction standards, and there was nothing glaring. Choices are well justified. There are certain things the characters just don't
*4.5 stars*

I really loved this witty, Agatha-Christie-style mystery set in Regency England. Rosalind is a wonderful, resourceful heroine, the setting is just beautifully done, and I kept sneaking moments to read this book when I should have been working on my own book or packing up my house for an upcoming move. It was just so much fun! I loved all the different women scheming and maneuvering within the bounds of civility, and I LOVED the way Rosalind's own arc ended in this novel - it was just

Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.

Rosalind Thorne is a woman that lives on the edges of the ton. She was once a debutante on the verge of making a match. That life was destroyed when Rosalinds father abandoned her and her mother because of some shady business dealings. Due to her constrained circumstances Rosalind had to make herself useful, and in that, she maintains her position in society.

Normally, Rosalind helps woman organize parties or assists in a strategic retreat from prying
Susan in NC
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I don't know if it was the time and place or just the book, but I haven't read such an engrossing historical mystery in a long time!

Wilde takes the rigid, unforgiving, exclusive rules of Regency society and uses them to create a gripping murder plot at the glittering center of the ton's universe, Almack's Assembly Rooms. I hope Wilde has several more puzzles and plots dreamed up for our heroine, Rosalind Thorne, as she shows great promise; she is brave, extremely clever, socially adept, knows
I did really appreciate that, as Andree said, this is a historical have to work within the conventions of their time.

But ultimately the writing annoyed me. I didn't ever understand well enough why Rosalind and Honoria didn't like each other or why Devon dropped Rosalind (view spoiler) and there too much, "Something about what he said made her think of something" and "A niggling thought at that back of her mind." I don't mind not figuring things out,
Sheri South
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Poor Jane Austen! Underappreciated in her own time, she now finds her name attached to almost any book that (a) is set in Regency England, and (b) that doesn't contain sex scenes. This book matches both of those criteria, but Austen didn't write mysteries, and she never mentioned Almack's or the Bow Street Runners. Still, publishers' marketing departments know the Austen connection, no matter how tenuous, sells books, so I wasn't expecting an Austen clone.

A good thing, too, because it wasn't
High Plains Library District
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: meagan, adult
I feel like I should open by mentioning one thing the fact that Im writing an enthusiastic review for a mystery is no small thing. Mystery is one of the most popular genres among readers, but for some reason its not a genre that I often enjoy. In fact, I rarely even read them, and when I do I dont always finish. Fortunately for me, A Useful Woman had one thing that was bound to make me notice it: the setting. It takes place in London during the 1800s, with all the trappings we have come to ...more
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, mystery, regency, f
This is billed as a 'Regency Mystery,' and it is that, but also features a touch of romance.

Rosalind Thorne is barely hanging on to the fringes of the ton, after being disgraced through no fault of her own. Her father's scandalous actions and cowardly escape from London left Rosalind with crippling debt, the care of her overwrought, unstable mother, the loss of being able to marry her love, and more than enough shame to overwhelm most people.

Rosalind decides to hang on to society, and
Cindy Burnett
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

A Useful Woman turned out to be so much better than I thought it would be. I hate starting out with that sentence, but in this case its the absolute truth. One of the employees of my favorite book store recommended it to me, and I bought it when it first came out. Then the book sat on my bedside table for weeks before I finally decided to start it I think the cover is what put me off the book. Thankfully, A Useful Woman was a very fun and clever read. I enjoyed it so much that I read
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Useful Woman by Darcie Wilde was an interesting afternoon read but began very slowly as Ms. Wilde established Rosalind Thorne's character along with the restrictions placed upon women during the Regency period. Once the murder was introduced, the pace picked up and several characters were likely suspects. There were the usual twists and a few red herrings to confuse me and they worked because I was quite surprised at the reveal. I've already requested the second book in this series from the ...more
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
Though the publisher billed this historical mystery as "Austenesque," it really wasn not.

However, it was a delightful reading experience and I will happily read the next book in the series.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoy reading about the Regency era, knowing going in that it's likely not going to be very historically accurate. Most stuff published these days is frothy ballroom romances, rakes and reformers, highwaymen and heroines.

"A Useful Woman" departs from this standard by trying to be far more historically accurate in how gender roles really worked at the time, at least within the nobility. Rosalind Thorne has been abandoned by her wastrel father, sister who ran off with father, and a mother who
Jamie Collins
An historical mystery with the Regency level turned up to maximum. The body of the murder victim is discovered in the ballroom at Almacks. The mystery involves a bet entered in the famous book at Whites. The sleuths are a Bow Street Runner and a young woman who has fallen from the ranks of the ton and survives by being useful to society ladies. All thats missing is some Heyer-ish cant about vowels and Banbury stories and making a cake of oneself.

While this is not especially clever and witty, as
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of Regency England.
Rosalind Thorne is quite adept at being useful. Darcie Wildes A Useful Woman (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #1) setting is Regency England where there were mega rules for the ton to follow. Rosalind has made her debut at Almacks, but her situation has change dramatically since that night.
Thus, Rosalind has made herself useful to many of the extremely important personages that are in the ton. Had she not If once to Almacks you belong, like monarchs, you can do no wrong; But banished thence on
Barb in Maryland
3 1/2 stars to the first of what I hope will be a long series.
Oh, we are once again in Regency England; this time with famed social venue Almack's at the center of attention. Foul murder has been committed there--who did the deed? and why? are the questions of the day. And to add insult to injury, it is possible that some of the highly sought after vouchers may be (gasp!) forgeries. Are the two crimes related?

Rosalind is an engaging heroine and I liked her newspaper friend Alice and the
Verity W
May 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
****Copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review****

This just did nothing for me. I nearly gave it 1* but I'm feeling nice this morning.

I'm used to outlandish plots that stretch credibility of what might have occurred, but this just went too far for me. I can some times get past crazy like this if the characters are totally engaging, but this was slow to pick up for me and I never got past my sense of "Huh? What's this?". It's a shame, because I like Regency romances, I like Cozy Crime, I
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this one, despite the drama-llama prologue and a half-baked love triangle. It's an enjoyable Regency murder mystery revolving around Almack's. The story flowed rather nicely. Overall, it's a pleasant read.
Selah Pike
This felt a bit like a Regency research paper. I appreciate historical detail, but it shouldn't overwhelm the plot. Still, I enjoyed Rosalind and Harkness (who I pictured as John Barrowman - I couldn't help it!), and it fits with my reading theme for the month. #austenaugust2017
Janet Martin
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very much a Regency, not quite a romance and definitely a mystery. I enjoyed it more than I expected and will look for more in this series
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Nope. Nope. Nope. Rich people problems aren't for me.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Impoverished gentlewoman Rosalind Thorne has found ways to make herself useful to the ladies of polite society, organizing social events and so forth. It's not much, but the gifts, dinners, and invitations that she receives help keep her afloat. she couldn't have survived, however, were it not for her godmother, Lady Blanchard, one of the patronesses of Almack's. When a young man if found dead in that very lofty establishment, all of society wants to believe that it was a tragic accident -- but ...more
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Darcie Wilde is a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel, author of mysteries, science fiction, romance and Young Adult fiction, including the New York Times Notable Book Fools War and the bestselling Rosalind Thorne mysteries A Useful Woman. She also writes under the names Delia James, Sarah Zettel, Jennifer Hawkins C. L. Anderson and Marissa Day.

Darcie writes her classically styled (not to mention stylish)

Other books in the series

Rosalind Thorne Mysteries (3 books)
  • A Purely Private Matter (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries, #2)
  • And Dangerous to Know (Rosalind Thorne Mystery #3)

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