Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Countess of Harleigh Mystery #3

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

Rate this book
A 2020 Agatha Award Nominee

London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll. . . .

304 pages, Hardcover

First published July 28, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Dianne Freeman

7 books973 followers
Dianne Freeman is the acclaimed author of the Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. She is an Agatha Award and Lefty Award winner, as well as a finalist for the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award from Mystery Writers of America. After thirty years of working in corporate accounting and finance, she now writes full-time. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband split their time between Michigan and Arizona. Visit her at www.DiFreeman.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,233 (30%)
4 stars
1,904 (46%)
3 stars
872 (21%)
2 stars
85 (2%)
1 star
10 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 509 reviews
Profile Image for Deema ♡ (tella's version).
153 reviews392 followers
March 10, 2023
The books in this series continue to entertain and charm me, and I enjoyed this book's plot a lot more than the previous in the series.

Frances, George, and a select group of people are at an estate in the English countryside rather than in London. Shortly after arriving, a series of very suspicious and life-threatening accidents take place that don't seem like a mere coincidences to Frances and George.

The change of setting made this book feel fresh and, at the same time, more like "old-school" murder mysteries. I was totally invested in the mystery and finding out who the culprit was. I did not see certain twists coming. I am not a good detective so I did not guess correctly, but I had fun trying. 😂

I loved the romance between our two main characters! Theirs is a great example of a healthy relationship, where two people actually communicate. Frances and George are such supportive partners to each other and have great banter. Even though romance isn't the main genre in these "cozy mystery" books, I did enjoy that there was more of it in this installment.

While we do see some familiar side characters from previous books in this series, we are introduced to new characters who add to the plot, humour, and suspect list.

I highly recommend this cozy mystery series. I've seen a few reviewers mention that these books can be read as stand-alones, but I suggest reading them in order. The first book, A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder, does a great job at introducing us to important main and side characters.

*If you're wondering why I didn't give this 5 stars after that positive review: Honestly, I keep my 5-star ratings for books that absolutely wow me. I do adore these characters and think this series is really fun, but it's not an absolute favourite of mine. Maybe the next book will change that!
Profile Image for Dab.
171 reviews90 followers
February 18, 2023
I would have probably developed full on paranoia if there were so many murders around me in such a short amount of time, but Frances aka Lady Harleigh is, as George nicely put, enjoying the macabre. 😈

Frances is busy with wedding preparations for her younger sister Lily, when a series of mysterious accidents happens to the party guests and servants. Our born detective does not believe in coincidences, and smells something sinister…

This series is incredibly entertaining and this book is no exception. The setting was slightly different this time, it was a country estate instead of London which made this book feel even more like playing Cluedo.

This is my favorite book so far. The romance in the background is the sweetest, these two are so precious! I loved how Frances stood up to those who deserved it and fearlessly defended her loved ones. And George was as charming as always obviously 😍

I can’t wait to read the next book!
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,219 reviews2,049 followers
July 26, 2020
I had no idea this was the third book in a series when I downloaded it onto my kindle. A few chapters in I started to get suspicious because it seemed these characters all knew each other really well which suggested they had met before!

Anyway it did not spoil the book for me as the author gave just enough information from the past to keep events understandable. I always love a good historical mystery and this was a good one. I enjoyed the country house setting and the romance between Frances and George. The mystery was entertaining with lots of possibilities for the bad guy and I did guess who it was just before Frances did.

I ended up enjoying it so much I immediately purchased the first book in the series as my Audible listen for August. I am looking forward to finding out how Frances and George met.

Thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for JEN A.
214 reviews119 followers
July 29, 2020

I received an advanced copy of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review. The release date for this book is 28 July 2020

This was an okay historical cozy mystery. The characters were quite interesting but the storyline took a long time to develop. The ending was a bit on the typical side and the middle dragged a bit. I think I would’ve found the story more interesting if I had begun with the first book in the series. Overall it just didn’t have that wow factor for me.
Profile Image for Kristina.
639 reviews172 followers
March 14, 2023
This was jam packed with action and I did not guess who-dun-it until the very end! The best read of the series, this had a lot of twists and turns and Frances really came into her own here. Set on a country estate during a house party, Frances and George investigate a series of suspicious accidents. Frances insists that George see them as a series of planned and deliberate incidents and she solves this one in spite of George, who actually gets in her way this time. I enjoyed seeing Frances as the hero in this and watch her save her bumbling fiancé from his own stupidity. I don’t know about George though, I’d like to see him be a stronger lead and step up and do some of the solving, he’s just outmatched with Frances right now and I would rather see them as a crime solving duo. Perhaps in the next one. Overall this was exciting and had appearances from previous beloved characters and introduced a few more to team Frances, one of which went from adversary to ally! Love the representations of strong female side characters, this really is a women positive book. Looking forward to the next one when I need another light, cozy read.
Profile Image for JEN A.
214 reviews119 followers
July 29, 2020
This was an okay historical cozy mystery. The characters were quite interesting but the storyline took a long time to develop. The ending was a bit on the typical side and the middle dragged a bit. I think I would’ve found the story more interesting if I had begun with the first book in the series. Overall it just didn’t have that wow factor for me.
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books297 followers
April 14, 2021
Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a quiet place for her younger sister’s wedding, which needs to be moved forward. She just wants Lily and Leo to have a memorable wedding day. When a country estate is offered it seems ideal. They are not to know danger is lurking. At first it seems just a couple of badly timed accidents but then it becomes obvious there is more going on. Someone has murder on their mind. Who among all those staying at the country estate is the culprit and can Frances and George find that person before another murder occurs?
This is an enjoyable cosy mystery. Though this is book 3, which I didn’t realise till later, it reads okay as a standalone as the author gives enough background info. Frances, George, Lily and Leo are engaging characters. None of it is meant to be taken too seriously but told with a light touch and moments of gentle humour. It provides plenty of twists with several suspects to choose from. One of the scenes towards the end in the stable is a classic.
This was an excellent change of pace for me after my last couple of books. If you are into cosies I’d give this one a go. 'I think it will appeal to a lot of people. Interested enough to read others in the series now. Just good light entertainment and a recommended read.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,578 reviews400 followers
October 5, 2020
Unfortunately, third time was not the charm. I love the cover. I love the title. And...that's about it.
I was mostly bored stiff.
The writing flows well enough but I don't care about any of it--the characters, the romance, the mystery. Frances shows a hint more backbone than in book 2 but my eyes still glazed over.
I think I'm done with this series, even if the author writes more books. Despite great marketing, the actual stories just aren't enough to hold my interest.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,299 reviews384 followers
April 1, 2021
A Victorian murder mystery third in a series. Wasn't detailed that this was the third in my book app and maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I'll read them in order, but this was an okay book. Have an slight issue with historical murder mystery, don't know why really but I don't seem to get invested in the story as I would like.
Profile Image for ℳacarena.
218 reviews97 followers
July 31, 2020
This has been a nice surprise.
I must confess I haven't read the previous books in the series, but I couldn't resist myself from requesting it... you see, the title says it all.
Now I want to read A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder and A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder.

I totally recommend it, even if you haven't read the previous books. If you like cosy mysteries and historical sets, this might be you're next read.

The characters are nicely depicted. One can easily imagine them. I really like Frances and Mr. Hazelton. The story keeps you interested and wondering who might be the culprit?

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
July 19, 2020
'London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancé, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll. . . .'

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder is the third book in Dianne Freeman's Countess of Harleigh Mystery series and is a historical mystery set in Victorian England.

I love the author's writing style in that she very clearly has done much reasearch into the time period and sets the tone of the book appropriately in such a way that it doesn't distract from the plot itself and the characters' interactions. Needless to say, I continue to love this series.

There was the perfect level of danger in the book to be exciting but still feel realistic. I knew who the villain of the book was quite early, but the red herrings along the way worked well to throw suspicion onto multiple characters to keep readers guessing. For me, I just found that there was just one character that just seemed too conspicuous to me throughout the book.

I was so happy to see Frances have the spectacular moments she did in terms of the conclusion of the case, it just really outlined what a great character she is. She's definitely one of my favorite protagonists from any historical mystery series. I won't give any more details on those moments though because I don't want to risk any spoilers.

I think the one thing that bothered me about the book is how many 'accidents' had to occur before the characters began to put them together and consider the fact that there might be something more sinister at work. I found it shockingly obtuse for characters so adept at sleuthing. But that's only a minor thing and didn;t really affect my enjoyement of the book itself.

I'm very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Will that the book where we get to see a wedding between George and Frances?? Here's to hoping. I recommend The Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder as well as the previous books in the Countess of Harleigh series to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries. And I do recommend that you read them in order as the connections between the charcters continue to be built upon as the series progresses.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for sharing an eARC of A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman. This is my honest review.
Profile Image for Barbara Rogers.
1,506 reviews141 followers
July 21, 2020
Series: Countess of Harleigh Mystery #3
Publication Date: 7/28/20
Number of Pages: 304

This new-to-me author was a delightful find. The story was very well written, the historical sights, sounds, language, etc. were period correct, the plot moved along at the perfect pace – and best of all there was romance. My favorite genre is historical mysteries, but I have to have a romance in those – and this one had TWO!

This is the third book in the series, but I have not read the first two books and don’t feel I really missed anything in this story by not having read them. However, since this book was so much fun, I’ll go back and catch those first two!

The characters are delightful – both main and supporting. There is a scene toward the end between Frances and her mother that will have you rolling on the floor laughing. It is absolutely perfect to see that side of Frances’ mother. When you get there, you’ll recognize it because you can’t miss it - think buckets of water, horse dung, and pitchforks.

Frances and George are secretly betrothed. Not because they are hiding anything, but because they don’t want to tread on Frances’s sister Lily’s big moment – her own wedding. George isn’t thrilled with keeping it a secret, but he’ll honor Frances’s wishes. When the need arises to move Lily’s wedding up by several weeks, George is more than happy to offer his brother’s estate, Risings, as the perfect venue. There is a perfect small church and the house will accommodate the close family and friends. Perfect solution.

Strange occurrences begin – accidents surely – but are they? The first couple of ‘accidents’ are viewed as just that, but as more accidents happen – and a death – Frances and George suspect there is a villain loose among them. Who is the intended victim? Is it Leo, Lily’s betrothed, or is it George himself? They both seem to always be at the scene of the accident and could have easily been the victim. Who could want Leo dead or injured? His brother-in-law? His best friend who might hold a romantic interest in Lily? What about George? Could someone from one of his past Home Office cases be coming back to seek revenge?

With suspects and victims galore, George and Frances will have their work cut out for them. They’ll definitely need all of their skills to prevent more injuries or deaths and to catch the villain.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and surely hope you will also.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Lorraine.
1,032 reviews80 followers
October 25, 2020
Dianne Freeman’s A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder (Countess of Harleigh Mystery #3) is more instructions for Regency women and American women who wish to do more that find a husband! The Countess of Harleigh, an American widow of a British aristocrat, is preparing for the marriage of her younger sister when said sister tells the Countess that she ‘needs’ to get married now not in a few months. At first the Countess does not understand why her younger sister cannot wait this short period of time. Then with her younger sister’s frankness, the Countess realizes that her sister must get married immediately or scandal will affect the entire family! Now a quiet venue for the a small wedding must be found. George, the Countess’ next door neighbor and friend, finds a way to solve the problem - his brother’s country pile. When all have arrived at George’s brother’s house, the wedding will take place, but then someone attempts to murder one of the guests or the groom. Frances must find the evil doer before the wedding becomes a funeral. The Countess has a surprise for every one after the murderer is caught! At one point though I thought that I was reading a Marx brothers’ story. Too much at the end. 3.75 stars
Profile Image for Jypsy .
1,524 reviews60 followers
August 20, 2020
Thank you HFVBT for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Lady's Guide To Mischief And Murder
By: Dianne Freeman

This series is new to me, and I found A Lady's Guide To Mischief And Murder a fun and charming historical mystery. I read it fairly quickly, and my intrest was held all the way. Frances is a sassy smart woman, and I just adore her character. Although not really original, the premise is fun to read and explore. It's the classic whodunit type of story, and I didn't guess who it was. There are red herrings and twists and drama and romance. All of this combined makes a witty light hearted historical mystery. Dianne Freeman is a great author, and I look forward to reading the rest of her books.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,997 reviews1,480 followers
August 24, 2021
Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books for the digital advanced copy. My review reflects my own opinion and is not affected by the giveaway.

October 1899, Lily and Leo's wedding is planned for the winter, in just eight weeks. There's much to do before Mrs. Price arrives to criticize everything. Lily still seems unhappy about something and Frances is determined to make sure her sister's impending marriage is not a disaster. Far from it, Lily has happy news, however, the news would cause a scandal of monumental proportions if it became known. Frances, feeling guilty for not being a good chaperone, wishes there were some way to hold a small, intimate, country wedding far from Society's gossips. If only Harleigh Manor were not for sale... or falling apart... or the scene of a dreadful event. Enter George Hazelton, Frances's neighbor and friend. George is off to the country to housesit his older brother's estate. Since he and Frances are now (secretly) engaged, nothing would be improper about holding the wedding at Risings. Frances, Rose, Lily, Leo, Leo's sisters, brother-in-law and best man all head to the country for some shooting and socializing before Frances and Lily's mother arrives from America and Leo's parents return from a business trip. If Frances hoped for some alone time with George, she was much mistaken. He's busy with estate matters and shooting and she's busy planning a quickie wedding. Then a series of unfortunate incidents occur that make Frances uneasy. George is convinced they are nothing more than unintentional mischief but Frances isn't so sure. They must divide and conquer the servants and guests to get to the bottom of the mystery. When Frances's mother arrives from America, she threatens to derail all their carefully laid romantic plans. Will this summer end with a happily-ever-after or a funeral?

I absolutely love this cozy mystery series. It has all the elements I like: Victorian elegance, a strong independent heroine, a swoony hero, witty dialogue and a good mystery. The writing has improved enormously since the first book. However, the mystery in this novel let me down somewhat. It has rather too much mischief and not enough solving whodunit. There are too many suspects but none of them are really plausible. With only two non-family new characters, it shouldn't have been that hard to figure out BUT I didn't. I got confused by the red herrings, twists and turns until the motive was finally revealed. I figured out how, then why and finally who just a bit before Frances. I loved the twist at the end. It was breathtaking and fun at the same time. That's the kind of mystery solving I like! As for the relationship plot, it's still sweet when George and Frances are alone. Those moments are few and far between because they're in the middle of a house party and keeping their relationship a secret. Lily's drama bored me and the horrible mother plot also distracted from the mystery. There was just too much going on in this novel for it to be my very favorite of the series but I still enjoyed it very much.

One thing I really enjoy about this author is her attention to historical detail. I can tell she's done her research on life in 1899 (plus I read her blog). She is skilled at working in small details that set the time and place without weighing down the plot with unnecessary information or boring readers. I especially liked the Russian Influenza comment but the analysis of the ginger beer was maybe a bit too much.

I love Frances! She's my kind of heroine! Frances has come a long way just since the first time we met her. She was still married to Reggie. His death has liberated her and helped her grow. She's intelligent, independent, a bit too stubborn at times and caring. She made a mistake and has learned from it. Unfortunately, she has tried to pass that lesson on to Lily who has a more traditionally feminine personality and is happy with her choice of husband. Frances shouldn't feel guilty for pushing Lily into a long engagement. I probably would have cautioned the same thing in Frances's shoes. Frances does a little too much mothering of Lily. I love how strong Frances becomes in the course of this story. She's amazing! She has learned a lot along the path to the end of the novel. I adore her relationship with George. I love his sense of humor most of all and his easygoing charm. Best of all, he supports Frances and loves her BECAUSE she's intelligent as well as beautiful and kind. They make a good team. I don't think Frances has anything to worry about but she does worry George won't want her as an equal partner. I think he's made it perfectly clear he DOES want her as his life partner as well as partner in solving crime. He doesn't know her as well as he could, not yet, not to know that she's worried about that. She should take her own advice and talk to him!

Lily is super annoying. She can't think for herself or communicate like an adult. I agree with Frances, 18 is too young to be married. I'd like to say Lily comes into her own, but she doesn't really. She lets Frances take care of everything. Leo is a nice guy, like a puppy. He's innocent and open but he doesn't know much about women, in spite of having three sisters. He also doesn't communicate with Lily. He's off with the guys having fun shooting birds, leaving her alone at the mercy of his best man. Treadwell is a new character but he's known Leo forever. Treadwell is a cad and not to be trusted. How could he do that to Leo? Is Treadwell behind the mysterious "accidents" trying to cause harm to Leo so he can have Lily to himself? Leo clearly hasn't told his pal his big secret or has and Treadwell is worse of a cad than it seems.

Leo's family assembles for the wedding. We met some of them before. I like his sister Anne the most. She seems to be an emerging women's rights activist but she isn't immune to the charm of handsome young gentlemen. Her sisters are awful, especially Eliza, Mrs. Durant. Eliza is mean, fussy and rude to everyone, even her own sisters. Her husband is a pompous bore who puts business above all else. Mr. Durant wants something Leo has and doesn't want to take a back seat. Is he prepared to cause Leo harm or even kill his brother-in-law? Clara is very young and silly. She needs to grow up more.

We finally meet Fran's family. Mrs. Price is an Alva Vanderbilt wannabe without the social cachet. She's pushy, overbearing, controlling and a massive snob. I was appalled at her behavior! I would have told her off sooner if I were Frances. Even sweet Lily dreads her mother's arrival. I think Mrs. Price is slightly empathetic though. It sounds like she doesn't have a happy marriage. Mr. Price might as well be dead because he doesn't bother to show up for Lily's wedding! Mrs. Price takes comfort where she can- in her money and social position, and assumes all good marriages should be that way. She doesn't understand love because it sounds like she's never had it. I did feel rather sorry for her. Daisy's character development is sudden but it makes sense for a mother and adds some comic relief to the tense scenes. Alonzo, Frances's younger brother, is still young and green. He's goofy like a Golden Retriever and eager to experience English country life. As always, Aunt Hetty is sensible, tough and delightful. I hope she stays in England! Rose, Frances's daughter, is going to be a handful when she grows up. George gives thanks he doesn't have a 17-year-old daughter but he will and she'll be every bit as stubborn as her mother!

Also invited are Lily's friend Lottie and her husband, Frances's cousin Charles. These two are so cute! I relate a lot to Lottie. She's very intellectual but also extremely klutzy. They're both nice, good people. What happens to Charles made me LOL! Fiona, George's sister, really steps up for Frances here. Fiona is a good hostess but a better friend. She makes sure her brother and Frances have some alone time, orchestrates their meetings and stands up for Frances when she needs support. Fiona's husband, Nash, is a dolt but he seems kindly enough for someone with sport on the brain.

The first accident happens to Mr. Gibbs, the Steward. He swears it wasn't an accident. Is he telling the truth? His insistence at showing off his wound makes it seem like he's telling the truth. His new assistant, John Winnie, is a young eager beaver. He's a pleasant young man and a little over eager to do his job. Tuttle, the gamekeeper, seems loyal and devoted to the Hazelton family. He's in a position where he's out on the grounds all the time but he swears he doesn't see any of the accidents. Is he telling the truth?

Percy Bradmore claims to be a neighbor, a great-nephew and heir of Lady Esther. He has never met any of the Hazeltons before and insists his aunt is ill. He acts very suspicious. A man who lives here and there, keeps rooms in London but never visits, is supposed to be attending to a sick aunt but has time to socialize? No way is this guy for real. He's hiding something! Frances is certain Mr. Bradmore is the one behind the accidents, but why?

Downstairs drama ensues when another accident befalls a footman, Michael O'Brien. The man unfortunately ends up dead. Was it a simple case of food poisoning compounded with tainted water? (Did you know water contained arsenic and ginger beer was used as a stomach remedy but the water, not being distilled, could be dangerous?) Was there a reason for his death beyond mischance? At first he seems like an innocent victim, a kind young man everyone liked. Then the more information revealed, the more horrible he sounds. If he got a job at Downton Abbey, he'd be hand in glove with Thomas Barrow until they tried to outdo each other in nastiness. Young Michael didn't deserve to die though, if it was murder.

Mr. Crocker, the butler, is a tartar. He's super strict with the servants but doesn't pry into their personal lives. They could all be hiding things from him and he'd never know! The female servants, especially the cook and housemaids, are rather silly women. Instead of trying to help Frances, they weep and wail. Dr. Woodrow is a good doctor. He takes Max's concerns seriously and is quick to arrive to treat the characters when needed.

This is such a fun series, I'm eager to read more, ESPECIALLY the next one. There must be a wedding coming up soon, right? How will married life affect Frances? Will she and George be 1899's version of Nick and Nora? How do they celebrate the turn-of-the-20th-century? That will be fun! What happens with Lily and her secret? Will her mother go ballistic when she does the math? Read this series if you miss Downton Abbey.

Reread (published hardcover edition)
I upped my rating because I enjoyed this more the second time. It wasn't the strongest entry in the series. I liked the romantic bits more than the mystery. The mystery was tough to read a second time knowing whodunit and why. WHO was obvious but why wasn't revealed until late in the book. I had forgotten some of the details of things that happened including the second death.

I believe she corrected one minor error and that was changing hunting party to shooting party. I think that mistake in the ARC threw me off because I kept expecting horses. Then I thought maybe it was deliberate because Frances is American and may not understand the importance of "the glorious 12th" and shooting season in British culture. Now I see it was just a simple mistake but Fran's brother Lon thinks it's a hunting party! Tally ho!
Profile Image for Lu.
746 reviews25 followers
July 28, 2020
A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder is such a catchy title! I don't usually read mystery, but I could not stop myself from requesting this one on NetGalley.

The book is part of the Countess of Harleigh Mystery Series but can be read as a standalone.

My thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the advanced reader's copy.

Lady Harleigh, neé Frances Price, is a wealthy widow raising an eight years old daughter. She is secretly engaged to the lovely George Hazelton and about to marry her young sister Lily to a respectable and honorable man.

Things start to get complicated when her sister's wedding plans suddenly change, and people start to get hurt and even killed.

Throw an ambitious mother, a jealous best man, some bickering siblings, and a mysterious new neighbor to the mix, and the result is a fun, light, and engrossing story.

I especially liked how Frances' relationship with her mother changed as her views of life expanded. It is certainly not easy to confront a dominant parent.

The mystery is well woven. I had no clue about what was really going on until the very end.

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder is a very entertaining read. I intend to read the other books in the series.

*This review will be posted on https://lureviewsbooks.com on 07/28/2020*



Reviews Published
883 reviews39 followers
June 7, 2020
I have not read the previous two novels in this series but can say I didn't have any problems at all in finding myself comfortably reading along and understanding the relationships between all the characters. Francis, Countess of Harleigh, is a young widow ( approximately 28 years old), the mother of an eight year old daughter and an American. Married for her dowry, Francis was not attached to her husband but she was able to bring an entrance into the British aristocracy which was much sought by her mother. Francis is helping with the planning of her sister Lily's wedding when it becomes necessary to move the date of the wedding forward. Luckily for Francis (as well as Lily and Leo) her very good friend George Hazelton can offer the ancestral home of his brother as a suitable, and quiet, location for the wedding. Of course, nothing could be simple with so many characters running through the pages so the wedding has to be planned among all sorts of excitements, even murder.

As a cozy mystery set among the rich of 1899 England this was an entertaining, light-weight read for me. I liked some of the characters more than others but that's not so very unusual. There are two previous novels in this series which I might decide to read eventually. Not going to be in a rush, but I never know what a rainy afternoon might put me in the mood to read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an e-galley of this novel.
Profile Image for Badseedgirl.
1,258 reviews62 followers
December 22, 2021
I just adore the character of Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh. I know her portrayal of women of her time is completely inaccurate, but I still adore everything about this series. In this book Lady Harleigh gathers up her family for the wedding of her sister Lilly and takes everyone to the country where murder and mayhem soon erupt.
Profile Image for Yvette.
727 reviews25 followers
August 11, 2020
In this third Countess of Harleigh Mystery, the action moves to the country when the wedding plans for Frances Wynn’s sister Lily must be altered to avoid scandal. As accident follows accident and a death occurs at George Hazelton’s family home, the social and romantic entanglements both upstairs and downstairs amuse the reader while furthering the plot – aided in no small part by the arrival of Frances and Lily’s title-hungry mother.

It was as much of a delight to watch the bits of the puzzle that I could predict unfold for Frances and George as it was to follow along as new wrinkles appeared. And while there were plot points that felt cozily familiar, the author also crafted this as a story with multiple possibilities, resulting in an enjoyable read that did keep me guessing.

Each of these cozy Victorian mysteries has had a slightly different feel, though all charmingly narrated by Frances Wynn, American-born Countess of Harleigh. From the titles and covers to the development of Frances and George’s relationship and partnership over the course of these three books, all of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries have been a delight, and A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder may just be my favorite.

This review refers to a digital copy I voluntarily read, courtesy of the publisher. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Anne Boleyn's Ghost.
350 reviews57 followers
May 15, 2021
I'm still enjoying Dianne Freeman's Countess of Harleigh Mystery series. Much cozy, much fun, and while it doesn't take itself too seriously, it still provides absorbing and clever entertainment.

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder whisks us to a country estate for the wedding of Frances' sister. Murder and mayhem abound...eventually. The story was slow to start, but once it got going, I made quick work of it. Freeman likes her red herrings, and it took me some time to settle on the "who", much less the "why."

Despite my preference for romance as a side dish to the main mystery course, I wanted a bit more from Frances and George's relationship. It felt rushed from the last book, and its great potential doesn't feel realized. It didn't help that I kept, unintentionally but unfairly, comparing them to Amory and Milo from Ashley Weaver's sublime Amory Ames Mystery series.

All that said, I remain happily onboard the Countess' Mystery Express. And since this series isn't ending anytime soon - at least I hope not - I'm sure that my appreciation of these characters will continue to grow.
Profile Image for JoAn.
2,072 reviews1 follower
April 30, 2020
A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman was another engaging and entertaining book in this historical cozy series.

Frances Wynn and George Hazelton are such a perfect couple as they work together again to find answers regarding mysterious accidents that seem to be happening repeatedly. The plot is filled with excellent twists, turns, deceptive red herrings but only a few viable suspects. It was almost a delight to meet Frances and Lily's mother, Daisy. She seems to be more concerned with title and prestige than her daughters' happiness; but she did finally show her support of Frances. However, I missed not seeing Aunt Hetty more in this book as she is a favorite character of mine.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Mary.
224 reviews2 followers
July 14, 2020
I received an ARC of this book from the author on a Goodreads giveaway.

This series has become one of my favorites. I enjoy the settings and the lighthearted banter among the family members.

Frances, Lady Harleigh, is preparing for her younger sister's wedding, which had to be moved to an earlier date. Her friend (and secret fiance) George Hazelton has invited her and the families of the engaged couple to use his family estate as the venue. Soon, "accidents" begin to happen, including a death, and Frances begins to suspect that her sister's fiance is a target.

I enjoyed reading about the developments in the relationships between Frances and George, and Frances and her mother. I look forward to continuing to read this series
Profile Image for Hannah.
657 reviews53 followers
August 8, 2022
This is fast becoming one of my favorite historical cozy mystery series! I wouldn’t call this my favorite in the series for several reasons, but it’s still a jolly fun read even if it’s just for Frances and George, who are great characters apart and even better together.

The setting of Book 3 in the Hazelton family estate of Risings in Hampshire was a huge bonus; it gave us and Frances a chance to know George better, to understand more about his background and see him in his element. The country manor setting meant that poor George got precious little alone time with Frances, but they made that time count at least.

Their romance is well and truly *chefs kiss* and their moments are doubly sweet now that they’re finally engaged (albeit secretly!) I nearly swooned during the ring scene, even if George put his foot firmly in his mouth right afterwards. It’s clear that George is head over heels in love with her and I adore the fact that he respects her intelligence far too much to pooh-pooh her ideas (even if they may seem outlandish at first) and remains constantly supportive. For her part, Frances continues to open up to George and really grows in her confidence in their relationship. They have a lovely dynamic that’s based on their easygoing friendship and shared sense of humor, and I can’t wait to see more of this continue.

I was also gratified to discover that my guess back in Book 1 was correct - George has indeed been in love with Frances for far longer than he let on! As annoying as it was that Mrs. Price’s intervention back then may have delayed their happiness, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Frances and George approached this with their usual maturity and lack of melodrama. In the end, they’ve found each other again at the right time.

The rest of the book - the mystery, the balance of the side characters - wasn’t quite as strong as in the previous outings, which is a wee shame considering the wedding scenario had such promise.

I think I had remarked in my reading of Book 1 that it was a pleasant surprise to find so many likable supporting characters, but Book 3 skewed too far the other way. It was like half the cast had lost 50-100 IQ points and were behaving like annoying children.

Exhibit A: Lily. If she was annoying before, nothing held a candle to her in this book - she was stubborn as a mule in wanting her own way, but also refused to do her own thinking and didn’t even want to try to help herself. Frances had to resolve the issue of the wedding after Lily carelessly ended up pregnant, Frances had to organize the whole wedding while Lily wandered off to have fun, Frances had to break the news to their mother, and finally Frances even had to step in when Lily stupidly encouraged the attentions of Leo’s “best” man and wouldn’t turn him down. The worst part? She argued and refused to see reason each time Frances offered a solution or provided sound advice, complained about everything and had the audacity to glare at Frances when the latter warned her of the apparent danger to Leo - as if it was her fault!

Exhibit B: Mrs. Price, who was appallingly rude, overbearing, controlling and generally toxic. I couldn’t believe Frances didn’t tell her off, considering how horrible she was being. We do see a side of her towards the end that made up for a smidgeon of this, however - at the heart of Mrs. Price is a mother bear who’ll protect her daughter at a clutch. I still don’t like her, but she’s not irredeemable!

Exhibit C: The Kendrick girls. Anne Kendrick seemed nice enough, but Clara and Eliza both needed better manners. Good gad, poor Frances if Alonzo ends up marrying Anne!

In terms of the mystery, it took quite a long time to get off the ground; long enough, in fact, that for half the novel the characters don’t have enough to go on aside from speculation that the chain of “accidents” cannot be a coincidence. The final twist was fun, though, and I appreciated the clever use of misdirection to turn our gaze (and that of Frances and George) towards the wrong suspects/victim until the very end.

And speaking of the end, how amazing is Frances! From saving George’s life in a burning cottage to taking down the culprit with nothing more than a pitchfork and pure guts - what a heroine. Can’t blame George for falling in love with her. I have my fingers and toes crossed for a wedding on the horizon - this time for the deserving Frances, rather than her silly sibling.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Zimmy W.
611 reviews8 followers
November 8, 2022
Ahh this book was so fun!! I'm absolutely obsessed with this series and am gonna continue my binging.
Profile Image for Patricia Romero.
1,412 reviews41 followers
July 24, 2020
This is one of my favorite Historical Fiction Cozy Mystery series! Frances Wynn, an American whose overbearing mother pushed her into a miserable marriage for a title in the British aristocracy, has been a widow for a while now. Living in London with her daughter and now her sister Lily who has fallen head over heels in love with Leo. 

George and Frances are keeping their engagement secret until after Lily is wed. Unfortunately, Leo and Lily jumped the gun and are now in a position of having to move the wedding forward quickly.

George comes to the rescue by having everyone to his family estate in the country and the entire party is transported to Hampshire for some hunting, riding and you just know there will be drama when the parents of the couple arrive.

But drama begins almost as soon as they arrive. Deaths, accidents, and sketchy guests are all on the menu. 

Frances isn't about to be left out of the investigation, especially when her own George may be in danger.

There is a killer on the grounds and as they set a trap for the suspect they may find themselves caught in it!

I love these characters. They are funny and strong and get themselves into the most dangerous of predicaments. 

Always a pleasure!

NetGalley/July 28th, 2020 by Kensington Books

Profile Image for Abbie.
245 reviews7 followers
July 12, 2020
A great little who done it story! This may be the third in the series but it definitely works as a stand alone!

Frances is staying at a manor in the country as her sister is due to be married there. However, when one too many accidents start to take place among the guests, Frances starts to believe they may not be accidents at all. Someone definitely has some murderous intentions but can Frances discover who and why before it's too late?

Frances is extremely likeable and witty throughout which made this such a quick and easy read. I liked how it had all the romance elements of a classic period novel but the whole murder element was a great twist. This might not be the most inventive plot but it was still super enjoyable and had one or two twists I didn't see coming. I would definitely be interested in reading the rest in this series!
Profile Image for Lauren.
2,271 reviews162 followers
May 3, 2023
A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder
3.5 Stars

A house party in the Hampshire countryside is beset by a series of nasty accidents that Lady Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh, suspects are anything but accidental. Convinced that her sister's fiancé is the intended victim, Frances and her new beau, George Hazelton, are determined to find the culprit, especially when one of the mishaps turns into murder. Who amongst the assembled family, friends, and servants is a killer?

This installment in Freeman's historical cozy mysteries series is somewhat slower in pace as readers are introduced to various new characters and their possible reasons for staging the "accidents". There are several red-herrings with plausible motives, and Freeman manages to keep the reader guessing mainly due to the fact that much of the information needed to ascertain the culprit's identity is provided only toward the end - some earlier foreshadowing would not have been amiss.

The highlight of the book is actually the characterization. Frances and George have taken their relationship to the next level, but she is struggling with the changes the future might bring. Lily and Leo also have to deal with a life-altering surprise, but Lily's questionable behavior does not present her in a good light. Frances' overbearing and social climbing mother also appears on the scene. She is none too happy with either of her daughters' choices in men; nevertheless, she does have her moments and is very handy with .

Overall, this is not the best book in the series, but it is still a lighthearted and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Jenna.
1,759 reviews16 followers
October 22, 2020
this is an example of a sophomore series slump.(ie. the 3rd or 4th book/middle book in a series) while it was still pleasant, it wasn't as enjoyable as the previous 2 books.
but the mystery was really good. lots of suspects/clues. some surprises/red herrings.
charming characters.
i had my theories and when all is revealed, i said, "well that shot that theory down."
glad Theo & Lily will get their HEA.
I hope that Frances & George will get one as well. (perhaps, the next book???)
i also enjoy that George accepts Frances as an equal.

but this does make you appreciate that fact that we're in the modern age and not surrounded by all that formality/pomp/stuffiness/stodginess that was the Victorian Era, et al.
(seriously..they couldn't use first names in public...what kind of silliness was that?)

Profile Image for Hannah.
238 reviews59 followers
March 1, 2021
2 Stars - Okay book

This hasn’t been my favorite series, but this is my favorite book. However, I still didn’t love or really even like this one.

My main complaint with this book is that it was overly absurd teetering on unbelievable. Also, a lot of nothing happened in the first third of the book and most of the action is packed in the last third or even fourth. It felt unbalanced.

I thought Frances’ demand . In what world does a .

I’d recommend skipping this whole series.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 509 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.