In this, their sixth adventure, Lady Priscilla Flanders and Sir Neville Hathaway are engaged and nearing their wedding date. Daphne, Lady Priscilla’s daughter by her late husband, is coming out this season. Her first appearance in society will be at the theatre. Neville has connections in the Prince of Wales theatre and may soon be assuming control. Among his friends is Mr. Birdwell who is playing the lead in this evening’s debut production.
Harmony, Lady Lummis, comes to their box to speak with Priscilla. Her son is seeking a wife, and she casts broad hints that Priscilla should urge Daphne to consider him as a suitor.
Shortly afterwards, there is a scream in the theater. Lady Lummis has been murdered. When the Watch comes up with no suspects, Priscilla and Neville decide that they will try to solve the murder. Priscilla discovers that Harmony and Mr. Birdwell have been lovers and that she has been supporting him but wanted to end their affair. Could this be the motive behind the crime?
The publisher describes this series as “romantic mystery.” In her review of the third Priscilla Flanders/Neville Hathaway book, a fellow reviewer wondered where the romance was. It might have been in the fourth or fifth book – if it ever showed up –because it’s a done deal in the sixth. Now that they’re engaged and ready to be married, the flame is fizzling rather than sizzling. Yes, they’re generally nice people who will be easy to live with and probably live happily ever after, but their relationship seems a bit on the tepid side. Daphne’s debut has a higher profile and figures more into the plot than Priscilla’s and Neville’s romance.
The mystery subplot dominates the story line. It’s satisfactorily complicated with an array of possible villains, but the identity of the villain was evident well before the final climactic scene.
The best aspect of the story is the glimpse into English society during the Regency era. Lady Lummis is quite aghast that Priscilla would think that Daphne should marry for love. It soon becomes apparent that there is no love in her marriage, and ironically her subsequent affair and murder are a result.
This is a stereotypical three-heart book: it wasn’t a struggle to read, but when I had to put it aside half-read for five days, it didn’t bother me either. By the sixth book, the characters and relationships have already been well established, and it’s late to be introduced to them for the first time. I never developed any enthusiasm for the story, but it has enough positives to be considered acceptable.