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Monday, March 27, 2017

Sandra Byrd: A Lady in Disguise

By Kelly Bridgewater

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

My Thoughts:

I have wondered why there isn't that many historical suspense or thriller novels. I enjoy historical and suspense novels, so why isn't there a huge market for that genre? With I read the synopsis for Sandra Byrd's A Lady in Disguise, I got really excited. Byrd's novel would be during the Victorian Era, which is the same time period that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his famous Sherlock Holmes series.

I quickly dived into the novel and swept away in the live of Gillian Young, a young seamstress who sews together projects for The Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. Gillian is a kind-hearted young lady who takes in two early teenager girls instead of allowing them to be human trafficked or sold into sex slavery. I enjoyed how Byrd made her a brave woman who wasn't afraid to step out of her station to uncover the truth about her father. Next, Viscount Thomas Lockwood is a man with many disguises. At first, I didn't know if Gillian should trust him, then Byrd starts to make him look better in light of all her other suitors. He began to warm up to me.

The romance is just like a historical romance. Meet. Argue. Fall in love. Argue. Fall out of love. A misunderstanding. Married. It was a predictable romance with nothing unoriginal. I knew that they would fall in love and be married sometime by the end of the novel.

All the research that Byrd did to bring the world of the Victorian theatre and seamstress work to life sounded efficient, and I didn't doubt her story at all. I really liked Byrd's attention to detail. She even knew what kind of fabrics would have been popular during the Victorian era.

Being an avid reader of mysteries, I knew what to expect. I like fast pace plots, which beg me to turn to more chapters and not put the book down. Unfortunately, A Lady in Disguise does not do that. It reads like a historical novel with a mystery in the background. Yes, I understand that Gillian wanted to prove that her father was truthful, but there were moments that I felt like she spent more time designing clothes, attending parties, and courting Lockwood then focusing on the mystery. Toward  eighty percent in the novel, the mystery becomes the focal point and becomes what I wanted all along. But it took a while to get there.

In conclusion, Sandra Byrd's A Lady in Disguise is a great peek into the world of a seamstress trying to make her name known during the Victorian Era. I enjoyed the characters and the story, but I wish the mystery was more of the novel's purpose than a secondary subplot.

I received a complimentary copy of Sandra Byrd's A Lady in Disguise from Howard Books, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

What genre do you wish there was more of? Is there a combination of two that you would love to see? Why?


  1. I agree with you. I wish there was more historical suspense books too. Have you read Gilbert Morris's series-Lady Trent. It is a great historical suspense series.

    1. No, Stephanie, I haven't read Gilbert Morris Lady Trent series. Might have to look into that. God bless.