A Lady in Disguise: A Novelby Sandra Byrd
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
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.
Read an Excerpt
A Lady in Disguise
EARLY APRIL, 1883
I stood, that bleak day, in the graveyard in the village near Winton Park. The chapel’s stone gargoyles, pitted and blinded by the elements, nonetheless mocked our mortality with their jeering grins. Mrs. W tarried beside me; it was only we two mourners. An awkward funeral had been held in London a few days earlier—why had so few attended?—and the interment was just as lonely and isolating.
Nearby, the grass over my mother’s grave crept outward, erasing the decades-old rectangular spade edges. My grandmother’s burial plot was a few years younger than Mamma’s, and the grass atop it was sparse, thin, and blanched, like hair on an old woman’s head. Grandfather’s headstone looked like nothing so much as the king from a chess board. No grass grew near his. It was fittingly edged with gravel.
“Miss Young?” The vicar cleared his throat. “Are you ready?”
I nodded. Mrs. W took my elbow to steady me.
“The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great goodness.
“As a father is tender toward his children, so is the Lord tender to those that fear Him,” the vicar softly began.
I knelt down, blinking back tears, and sifted the first handful of dirt onto my father’s coffin. It mingled with a cold drizzle, black and white, dark and light, into a slurry. “Yes, you were tender to me and to all who knew you,” I whispered.
I love you, Papa.
“We have entrusted our brother Andrew Young to God’s mercy, and we now commit his body to the ground: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
With that, the laborers began their work. I quickly turned away, but there was no blocking the sound of the first shuddering shovelful hitting the casket. I waited a moment for a sign of comfort: a dove flying in the distance, a sunbeam mysteriously piercing the clouds, a soothing song teasing forth in my mind.
I waited in vain.
We carefully picked our way out of the cemetery. It was slippery with moss, the only plant cunning enough to grow throughout the winter. An early-spring wind harried us forward, and we settled into the carriage and then returned to my crumbling country home. As we alighted I saw, in the distance, a man on horseback, stationary and watching.
“Who is that?” I asked the driver. And why is he out at this hostile hour?
“Why, that’s Lord Lockwood, of course.” The driver’s voice reflected surprise. “He is your near neighbor and, er, a man of distinction in these parts. You have not met?”
“Not that I can recall, no.” And yet, his name . . .
“His father, long passed, and your mother . . .” Mrs. W spoke softly, wanting to remind me, certainly, but not desirous of raising a topic that might seem indelicate.
Yes, then I recalled. Lord Lockwood the elder had courted my mother, the young Victoria Palmer. My grandfather had surprised everyone and allowed her to decline Lockwood’s proposal. Certainly the old man had repented of that a half dozen years later when she married my papa instead.
Mamma. How I long for you.
Once inside the house we lingered in the Red Drawing Room, one of the few rooms in which the dust sheets had been hastily removed from the velvet furniture. The dark red flocked wallpaper made the room appear as though it were covered in bloodshot eyes; the pattern seemed to shift and follow me as I walked. Davidson, the caretaker, had seen to it that a fire was lit as soon as we’d arrived that morning.
There soon came a knock on the front door. Davidson moved faster than I’d expected for a man his age.
“Lord Lockwood!” Davidson’s voice reflected deference as he opened the door. “Please . . .”
Mrs. W and I stood as the aforementioned man of distinction entered my home, a maid following behind him, the manservant next to her hefting a large wooden hamper.
Davidson seemed dumbstruck. I moved forward to greet my guest, out of my element but not wanting to reveal that. “I’m sorry there is no butler to properly announce you,” I said. “We are not often here, of course.” And I don’t employ a butler.
Lockwood held my gaze with his own. It was strong and steady, but not impertinent. He stood straight, like a military man or a man in the police force . . . like Papa had been . . . I pushed away the sorrowful thought.
My guest removed his hat, which he handed to the manservant, and held out one gloved hand. “Thomas, Lord Lockwood,” he said. “How do you do?”
“Miss Gillian Young. How do you do?” I replied. His rusty-brown hair tumbled in a slightly unruly manner, in direct contrast with his person, and I found that unexpectedly appealing.
“My mother sent a hamper.” He indicated the manservant and his load.
“Truly considerate. How did she know we would be here?”
Davidson found his voice. “I told her, miss. She likes to know everything that is going on.”
She did, did she?
I indicated the comestibles should be brought into the drawing room.
The maid set the tea, contained in a silver samovar, upon a creaking console table that was covered with tired blue and white delft tiles. Mrs. W, with a sniff toward Lord Lockwood, served. Lady Lockwood’s bone china was very fine indeed.
“Your mother is too kind,” I said. Lockwood appeared bemused and a dry look passed between the maid and the manservant.
“She is a”—Lockwood seemed to struggle to find the right word—“a purposeful woman. You don’t remember meeting her, I take it?”
“No.” I sipped my tea, which was still warm. “I don’t think you and I have met before, either, have we?”
Lockwood took a perfunctory sip of his tea before setting it down on the side table. He had a presence and fitted—but only just—in the Queen Anne chair next to mine, its matching ottoman having been neatly pushed aside. His boots were impossibly clean for a man who had been riding in the wet and he emanated confidence and control.
“We haven’t met per se,” he replied. “But I remember you very well indeed.”
I set my cup down in surprise. “From when, if I may ask?”
He stood, and indicated that I should do likewise. “May I?”
I rose, and he took my hand and led me to the tall, twisted oak staircase, once highly polished, now thirsty and cracked.
“Your grandparents held an annual ball. I was seventeen years old, down for the summer, an extraordinarily poor dancer and wishing to return to school with all speed. You and your parents attended, an unusual occurrence, I understand?”
I nodded and the memory of that evening eleven years earlier came back to me in a rush. In spite of the solemnity of the day, I found myself smiling. “We were all together, here for once.” In spite of our rare visits, Winton had felt welcoming to me. I remembered Grandmamma patting my smooth hand with her liver-spotted one when Grandfather wasn’t looking.
Lockwood smiled back and as he did his face infused with such warmth it was difficult to look away. I caught my breath and he continued. “Your grandparents greeted those arriving. I stood in the corner looking to make an early escape. Then—you walked down the stairs, grandly, as I recall, your blond hair awkwardly pulled back, wearing gaudy, bejeweled slippers a size or two too large. You tripped . . .”
I laughed, enchanted that he had remembered so many details. “I did. They were my mother’s stage shoes. She was an actress.”
“Yes,” he said. “My own mother reminded me of that just today.”
So you’ll know, then, I thought, that Mamma’s father had shunned her for it, had little to do with her once she left for London and the stage, thought to be only for those of ill repute and easy morals. You know that the fact that she made a middle-class marriage is the reason we were rarely invited.
I cleared my throat and continued. “The shoes were from a play she had just finished. My grandfather was horrified.” I’d been thirteen years old, sashaying down that staircase. A quick movement of my grandmother’s gloved hand had covered her grin but she couldn’t hide the smile in her eyes.
“He may have been horrified,” Lockwood acknowledged, his voice softening. “But I was truly charmed.” He held my gaze for a moment, and then his face turned somber again. “I’m very sorry for your recent loss.”
A veil slipped over me once more. “I, too.”
We returned to the drawing room. “The house is yours now,” he stated. But there was enough of a lift at the end to make me wonder if it was a question, instead.
I nodded. “It is.”
“Would you like me to show you the property?”
My back flexed. How brash! It was not his to show.
“It is in critical need of repair,” Lockwood continued. “A few years have passed since your grandmother died, and even then she was not able to care for it on her own. Your father was here six months ago . . .”
I nodded. “To store my mother’s costume trunks.”
He did not answer that, but continued, “And then perhaps a fortnight ago, again. His police colleague visited, too. A . . . Collingsworth?”
Mrs. W looked up, as surprised, I gathered, as was I. “My father was here, again? Recently?” I asked.
Lockwood nodded. “Yes. You did not know?”
“I did not.” I’d thought Papa and I held no secrets.
Silence threaded its way through the room before Lockwood spoke again. “Perhaps your father was somewhat taken aback by the size of the property, and the maintenance and household commitments of a large country home and estate.”
Was that a comment on Papa’s social status, or simply an observation? It seemed oddly timed and did not address the conversation at hand.
Lockwood turned toward me. “I would be happy to escort you. Perhaps after the sleet relents?” He glanced out of the window.
Mrs. W took her brass watch necklace in hand, indicating the time.
“I’m sorry. I have every intention of exploring my house and the land, which I hold in affection and plan to restore to beautiful functionality as soon as I may. Winton Park is very dear to me indeed, as it was to my mother. But we have a train to meet.” I held my head proudly. “I am a costume designer and a seamstress. I have work to return to meet my obligations.”
Although now the heiress to Winton Park, I was also the daughter of a decidedly middle-class marriage. In addition to my theater work, I designed and sewed for a wealthy lady who was, I suspected, very much like his purposeful mother.
“May I be of service? Perhaps to have a look round and compile a list of what I see requires attention?” Lockwood asked. “I am mostly in London, tending to investments and other concerns. I could call on you.”
His cordiality and helpfulness rebuked me; he had only intended to escort and assist. I did not need to look for disdain in every statement spoken. In truth, it was clear that maintenance and general upkeep had been long deferred. I had no idea where I would find the resources required, along with paying what would be considerable death duties. I lived by my needle. I nodded, and stood, indicating that our time together was drawing to a close.
“That would be much appreciated. Thank you. I mean to do well by Winton, for my mother’s sake. She gave up this life”—I used my arm to sweep around the house— “for my father. And then she nearly lost her life giving birth to me.”
At that, he winced, and I blushed. Oh dear. What an indelicate matter to mention to a man I hardly knew. Middle-class indeed, Gillian!
We saw them out, and Davidson saw us, shortly thereafter, to the hired carriage that would return us to the train station.
After boarding I looked out of the window as the train heaved forward to gain momentum.
Papa. Dearest Papa. Why were you here secretly two weeks ago and with Inspector Collingsworth? Collingsworth had, to the best of my knowledge, never been interested in nor welcomed at Winton Park.
Meet the Author
Award-winning and bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including Mist of Midnight, Bride of a Distant Isle (A Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick), and her most recent, A Lady in Disguise. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Gillian Young has recently lost her father in what appears to be a horrible accident. Gillian grew up in a loving home surrounded by caring parents. When this story opens we are are at the seen of her father's funeral. Her mother's grave is nearby as she has sadly already passed away. At the funeral of her father it has come to her attention that her father was possibly murdered. Gillian can hardly believe that anyone would even consider killing her father. He was a prominent man and was on the police force. She eventually discovers that her father was in the middle of a case, and she decides to finish what he started. There is also a wonderful romantic story intertwined in this book that I absolutely loved. It has a little triangle between the handsome, Viscount Lockwood and Inspector Collingsworth. I love stories that capture you from the start, and this book did not disappoint. It has a little bit of everything and Ms. Byrd does a great job in telling Gillian's journey. I have read other books by Sandra Byrd and she is a terrific writer. If you like romance, mystery and historical Victorian then this book will interest you from beginning to end. (A copy of this book was given me for my honest review.)
The third book in Sandra Byrd’s Daughters of Hampshire series, A Lady in Disguise follows Gillian Young as she determines to uncover the truth of her father’s death and secrets. She quickly becomes surrounded by a well-developed cast of characters, and her story unfolds with an excellent blend of mystery, romance, and historical detail, all well-paced and oh so intriguing. It transported me into the experience of Victorian England, and I enjoyed every bit of A Lady in Disguise (as I’m sure any fan of historical romance will). This book does not disappoint, so I highly recommend it—add it to the reading list today! Many, many thanks to the author for providing me a complimentary copy of A Lady in Disguise. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.
This book was such a treat! It made me want an extra cup of tea, even with all the talk of Turkish coffee. I've read and loved all of Sandra Byrd's adult novels, but it's been her gothic romance series, Daughters of Hampshire, that I've loved more than any other. I've been greatly looking forward to reading A Lady in Disguise, and now as I leave it, I'm left greatly looking forward to reading more from her. In this book, we meet Miss Gillian. She's middle class, and works hard as a costume designer. She loves her work, but when her father dies suddenly, she's left with more worries, along with the hope to prove his innocence, both to herself and to others. She learns quickly just how dark and untrustworthy those in control can be, even those claiming to be friends. We're also brought into the world of theater and the children that suffered as a result of it, particularly young girls that were ushered into a world they should never have had to face after their acting was finished. There were times I felt completely hopeless for Gillian and cringed at the turn events took. There were also plenty of moments filled with love and hope, not only with the leading man, but also with friends and new acquaintances. I'll even freely admit that I cried at one special moment of honor. There was plenty to keep me rapidly turning the pages, in all ways. The writing is fantastic, the time period is well researched, the mystery is full of drama and suspense, and as I've come to expect from Mrs. Byrd, the romance was perfectly done, meaning I didn't roll my eyes not once. While plenty of scenes were beautifully romantic, they were never taken into inappropriate territory. There are even quotes from Little Women and references to Alice in Wonderland. Really, what more is there to hope for from a book? I enjoyed every moment I spent in the pages of A Lady in Disguise, and can easily recommend it! (The books in this series can be read in any order, since they completely stand alone from each other.) *I was given a free copy of this book.
Really enjoyed this wonderful story. Love the gothic angle. Gillian must find out if her father was a police officer on the take or did someone murder him to stop him from finding out who the bad guys were. Love Gillian and Thomas. They interact wonderfully together. I did not want to stop reading to go to work or bed. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I have given of my own free will.
After burying her father, Miss Gillian Young discovers his death may not have been an accident as she had been led to believe. Instead of answers, clues bring more questions as it looks like her father, a well-respected police officer, may have been involved in serious crimes. When Gillian meets the charming Viscount Thomas Lockwood, the attraction is instant, but are his advances genuine? Could he be interested in her newly inherited property? Could he have been involved in her father's death? Not knowing who she can trust, Gillian must use a disguise to investigate on her own to try to prove her father's innocence. This is 3 out of 3 for me! I have loved each novel in the Daughters of Hampshire series. The mystery and suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the keep the pages turning. This novel in particular touches a hard subject with grace and care, woven perfectly into Gillian's story. Sandra Byrd gives some interesting insight into her research in the Author's Notes. I love that we know no more than the main character knows. We can only trust or distrust based on what she sees, and, as with all good suspense,Â that can be misleading at times. The characters are excellently drawn, including the supporting characters. You feel for them, and want them to succeed. Lord Lockwood truly is charming, and I fell for him maybe as hard as Gillian did. I blame it on Byrd's use of Henry V dialogue. In fact, my one wish would have been more interaction between Gillian and Thomas. Romance, mystery, danger... it's all in this novel. It won't disappoint.
For years now, I have been a fan of Sandra Byrd’s works. I have read her contemporary fiction and a couple of her young-adult series as well. This is my first experience with her historical writing, and I’ve discovered that, much like her other novels, this is something she brilliantly excels at. Let me begin with what A Lady in Disguise is all about. Gillian Young has just lost her policeman father. Stunned to find out that her father was in suspicion for police corruption, she tries to find any evidence she can to prove the contrary. However there are many dark forces in her way, men who will stop at nothing to make sure she doesn’t dig too deep. Simultaneously, Gillian meets an important man, Lord Lockwood. She likes him, very much, but with the tumultuous times she is worried about trusting the wrong person. Francis, an old friend and newly appointed sergeant in the police force, is also vying for her affections. Who can she trust? What is the truth behind all the chaos? Victorian and period romances are some of my favorite genres. Among many fantastic attributes, this book had me gripped from the start with mystery, romance, and thought-provoking truths. I loved the 19th century London setting, with rich history involving the theater and many nods to one of my favorite classic stories, Little Women. The mystery was, although maybe a little conspicuous, very engaging. The romance was incredibly sweet between Gillian and Thomas -- they were just the kind of couple that sizzles in a pure sort of way. If you are worried about a love triangle, don’t be. It was tastefully done, with Gillian’s reasonings clear, as well as her heart. Emotion was evident on every page, and I found myself empathizing with Gillian more than once, which is about all you can ask for in a main character. If you enjoy stories that blend history and mystery with endearing romance and flawless writing, A Lady in Disguise is for you. The ending is as satisfying as they come and I enjoyed every bit of this beautiful story! *I received this book free from the author in exchange for my honest review.
For Miss Gillian Young her life is thrust in a world where the lines of truth and lies blur & the plight of the poor is made more real! With a desire to help out in any way she can, God uses her to make a difference to young girls forced to do whatever is necessary to survive; oftentimes deep in the depths of a sinful & vile world! With the affection of two men of opposing personalities and lifestyles vying for her affection, it further blurs those lines in her life. Will she allow herself to trust God to direct her steps in all she does? With well researched history & her ability to tell a story so vivid to draw the reader in, this author writes another novel that I couldn't hardly put down! I've enjoyed the last two installments of The Daughters of Hampshire and it was with anxious anticipation that I read this one. She did not disappoint! I love her writing voice and how she threads mystery, history, and romance in the pages of the book. Her hero is (always) quite swoon-worthy and you can literally feel the sizzle between Viscount Thomas Lockwood & Gillian every-time they met. Especially when they dance together...just to give you a taste! With her heart torn between two men, she remembers her mother's advice she gave to her as a child. Follow her heart or her station in life? And can she unravel the truth about her father when everything points to his guilt? This will have you glued to the very last page to find out what happens next. A highly recommended book; series really, with each book read as a stand-alone. For lovers of Gothic historicals and hair-raising romance with mystery mixed in, you don't want to miss this! *I received a complimentary copy of this from the publisher and a favorable review was not required. My opinions expressed here are strictly my own. *
"Do not marry a man if you are not sure he loves you for yourself alone, dearest little daisy," she said. "Never a man about whom you even think, for a moment, he loves me not." Excerpt from "A Lady in Disguise" by Sandra Byrd taken from a childhood conversation between Gillian and her mother. A Lady in Disguise is set in England in 1883 and Sandra Byrd has paid impeccable attention to historical details. Miss Gillian Young is a young woman who has just lost her father. He was a police officer who died under questionable circumstances...accident or murder? The 1st mystery in the book. Gillian is now an orphan living in the home she had previously shared with her father in London along with a few servants and her mother's long-time companion, Mrs. W. She has also inherited her mother's family home in Hampshire, Winton Park. Her grandfather had shunned Gillian's mother because he felt she had disgraced the family by choosing a career as an actress and marrying a policeman, over the plans he had for her future. Gillian's visits to Winton Park had been limited and somewhat unpleasant. She now owns the home which has fallen into disrepair over the past few years. How will she be able to make the needed repairs to Winton Park and maintain her own home on the wages she earns as a seamstress to the London elite? She gladly accepts a large commission from the theater, which will boost her income, but will it be enough. Gillian's once pleasant life is about to take a turn for the worse as she leaves her father's poorly attended funeral and returns home to find the police have searched her home. Why? What has cast this pall over her father's spotless reputation? Who is following Gillian's every move? Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Why does she feel threatened by the people she once considered to be close friends? Who is trying to ruin her reputation and her livelihood? What can she do to protect herself and those who are under the protection of her roof? I believe that you will find yourself turning page after page, just as I did, to find the answers to these questions and many others. A thoroughly enjoyable book! If we each do for one what we cannot do for many, we can make a difference." Quote from "A Lady in Disguise" by Sandra Byrd There are two other books in the "Daughters of Hampshire" series that I have not yet read. They are "Mist of Midnight" and "Bride of a Distant Isle". I plan to read the others, but not having read them did not lessen the pleasure of reading "A Lady in Disguise". "I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own."
This story transports readers back in time to the misty, dreary streets of Victorian London with vivid descriptions and an overwhelming sense of apprehension. Readers are completely immersed in the main character's perspective, thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Gillian is a hardworking and intelligent young woman who is making her own way in a man's world. She doesn't know who to trust after her father's death especially when more than one man seems to be offering her his protection and guidance. Readers get a look behind the scenes of theater life and missions work during this time period as well as a few high-class functions. If you enjoy a good mystery with loads of intrigue and historical charm, this book steals the show. I requested the opportunity to read and review this title through the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
Wow, excellent read! I was intrigued from the very first pages. History and romance set in a Gothic/Victorian setting, unbeatable. Gillian Young has been chosen has the new principal costume designer in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a position that Gillian has been working toward and if successful, will place her on a path of great success. Gillian's father, a police officer, has recently died under suspicious circumstances. Inheriting her mother's estate, held in trust by her father, Gillian endeavors to clear her father's name but the more she learns, the more nervous someone gets. Threatened by unknown sources, Gillian becomes more determined to find out why someone would besmirch her father's good name, especially when that someone searches her mother's estate. Viscount Thomas Lockwood owns the neighboring estate to Gillian's newly inherited property, a property in serious disrepair. The Viscount and Gillian are enamored with each other, but she is not sure she can fully trust the Viscount, despite her attraction. Question is, will Gillian clear her father's good name before the guilty party, or parties, destroys her reputation as well causing her to lose the hard fought for position on Drury Lane? I most definetely will be reading Mist of Midnight and Brides of a Distant Isle, the two books prior to A Lady in Disguise.
This is one of the best Victorian-era mystery books I have read in years. It is full of interesting time period activities, jobs, customs and attitude. The main character, Gillian Young, is quite brave, maybe a little foolhardy as she works alone in trying to discover what really happened to her father. She questions who to trust as suitors and life-long acquaintances seem untrustworthy at times. She takes on the job of designing and making the entire wardrobe for the costumes of a theater production. Needing apprentices she travels into the seedier parts of London to help rescue women from the mission there. It's a fascinating book with a dark mystery immersed in intrigue and danger along the way. There is a major twist that I totally love.
Until I read Sandra Byrd's Mist of Midnight I had not read any Gothic Romance, and I became a quick fan. In the last installment of her Daughters of Hampshire series we are once again transported back to Victorian England. Within the pages of this intriguing mystery, there are references to Cinderella, and Little Women. Swoony heroes, damsels in distress who are strong as well, human-trafficking that I would've never thought was going on in the 1800's. Ms. Byrd's attention to detail, and historical research adorn each page of this beautiful story. If this series is not on your self it needs to be! I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
Sandra Byrd is fast becoming one of my favorite authors of Victorian gothic romance. She immediately draws her reader into the setting from the very first page. Rich with historical detail, this mystery includes a cast from all walks of life of 1883 England, including the wealthy and titled along with the poor who struggle for survival. Gillian is a beautiful strong heroine, whose faith prods her tender heart to be aware of the needs of others. Gillian struggles with determining who she can trust as she unravels the mysteries and truths that are unearthed as she solves the mystery of her father's death. The reader will be held captive as the heroine draws closer to the answers she seeks. Sandra Byrd's descriptions of our heroine Gillian's world of Victorian theater are fascinating. I highly recommend this book for readers of Victorian mysteries! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
A Lady in Disguise is the third addition to Sandra Byrd's Daughters of Hampshire series. In this book, Miss Gillian Young investigate the death of her father. She takes a position of principal costume designer at the Drury Lane Theatre Royal. She uncovers shocking secrets her father had. Do these secrets hold the key to what happened to him and why he was killed? She begins suspecting everyone that may be involved including, Lord Lockwood, who she has developed a romantic feelings for. The closer she gets to the truth to what happened to her father, the more she finds herself in danger. Deciding she wants to find the real killer, she takes on a disguise hoping it is not too late before someone else's life comes to an end, including her own. A Lady in Disguise is a perfect "who done it" story. The suspense was quite intense at times and I was surprised with all the twist and turns that was involved. A reader will be guessing all the way to the end to what really happened to Gillian's father. I admire Gillian's determination and strength throughout the whole story. I really enjoyed this book and I think this is definitely my favorite of the series. Five stars I received this book from the author, but was not required to write a review. This review is of my own honest opinion.
On a scale of cotton candy to Brussels sprouts, A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd is a Blackberry snow cone, which might be considered a modern day Blackberry ice (as seen in the book). After all, sometimes the ice on your tongue hides the true flavor. Mounded high with layers of ice and an ombré of flavor, a snow cone intensifies until the final taste, saving the sweetest for last. And that's delicious. Gillian Young, a kind and ambitious seamstress, accepts a position as the head costume designer for the production of Cinderella soon after the mysterious death of her police father. Her father's police colleagues suspect that he lead a criminal double life, but Gillian can't believe it. As she begins her own investigation, she receives threats. Who can she trust? What I love about Sandra Byrd's writing is that somehow she creates a likable, strong heroine while manipulating a vague and foggy mystery. I felt like I was squinting through the London fog. Throughout the story, I knew someone was out to ruin Gillian's life as she tried to be a productive member of society while finding out the truth about her father, but just as soon I suspected one character, he or she proved not guilty for the time-being, anyway. Even better, the revelation of the villain(s) not only made sense but also surprised me, and I love that Sandra Byrd created 3D characters with backstory and believable motivations. P.S. I was not mad to see references to the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland, quotes from Little Women, and the use of my first name (coincidence I'm sure) for one of the characters in this book. Actually, I was quite happy by all three! [I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.]
A Lady in Disguise is not to be missed! A Lady in Disguise, the third and last installment in the Daughters of Hampshire series, is a most satisfying conclusion to a truly wonderful Victorian Gothic Romantic series starting with “Mist of Midnight,“ “ Bride of a Distant Isle,” and finally ending with as mentioned above “A Lady in Disguise”. This book is truly full of all of my favorite things, mystery, romance, London fog, theatre, costumes and “A Lady in Disguise”. Prepare to be transported back to the streets of London to 1883 through the eyes of Gillian Young, a young woman filled with drive to help others and a passion to clear her father’s name. The heroine Gillian Young, is brave and works hard as a newly appointed principle costume designer for the Drury Lane Theatre Royale. She has a lot to accomplish, without a lot of resources, as both parents are dead, her father recently so. Her father was a once respected police officer, but she is now discovering that he died under a cloak of suspicion of wrong-doing. His death also, the more that Gillian looks into it, the more that she sees that it was no accident. Her aim is to discover the truth about her father, his death, and other “goings on” in his life and prove to everyone that he was the good man that she knew him to be. And then there is the Viscount Thomas Lockwood, a man whose father is a part of her mother’s past. The reader is always a little off balance with him, wondering if he is just out to get her newly acquired property, or if he is falling for Gillian because their chemistry is immediate upon their acquaintance. If I might add, Sandra Byrd is a master at writing those swoon-worthy scenes between Gillian and Thomas, she builds the relationship at just the right pace and with just the right amount of chemistry. I mean really, who doesn’t love a “dance scene”- complete with dance cards and wonderful repartee? If you are a fan of well-researched historical fiction, I know that you will enjoy this wonderfully immersive book which transports you back to 1883 London, right along with mystery, romance, wonderful characters and a great storyline to boot. I promise that taking this journey will be well worth it, as you enjoy a wonderfully written and well-researched story whose character’s you wish that you could meet in real life! Enjoy! 5 stars I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review- all opinions expressed are my own
4.5 “Women work a good many miracles.” Little Women As I was writing the post for my 5 year anniversary (there’s still time to enter the giveaway, so be sure to!), I thought about how my taste in books have changed, but one thing has remained – Sandra Byrd’s books grab my attention and have me hooked the whole way through. Among many things, this book was a good mix of mystery, history and romance. Plus I liked the ode to Little Women. Slipped throughout the pages, I wanted to send an internet high five to Byrd for dropping quotes and nods in all the right places. I enjoyed the mystery as well. There were some things I think the reader will catch quickly, but I believe that was done to give a taste, because not all panned out how I thought it would. I also really enjoyed the romance story. I didn’t think I would because I love historical fiction for the history, more than the romance, but y’all, I really enjoyed it! I really liked what she did with our main characters, but also several of the secondary. They captured your heart and the relationships and roles they played were creative. Another winning novel from Byrd! If y’all have been fans of Byrd’s before, this won’t disappoint. Have you read any from this series? (Thank you to Howard Books for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.) Originally posted at http://booksandbeverages.org/2017/03/23/lady-disguise-sandra-byrd-book-review/
I’ve said this before and it bears repeating, Sandra Byrd’s Daughters of Hampshire series is nothing short of amazing! The mystery, the intrigue, the daring disguises, the romance – all will have you turning the pages until WAY past your bedtime and that is the voice of someone who read until after 4 AM because I just couldn’t stop. In many ways, Ms. Byrd’s books take me back to my high school days when I devoured every Victoria Holt novel I could get my hands on. I read every one the school library had then I progressed to the town library and the Bookmobile. Ms. Byrd’s stories have the same feeling – kind of dark and foreboding – with a strong female lead character and an equally strong male. This one gripped me by the throat and kept me in suspense until the exciting finish. Gillian Young was the daughter of a constable and an actress. Her mother chose acting over life as an heiress and married a commoner over the titled man her father chose for her. In so doing, she was banned from her family home and ignored by her father any time she visited her mother. Gillian has many fond memories of her visits to her grandmother so when her father dies mysteriously she takes him to Hampshire to be buried next to her mother. Her first clue that all is not right is the lack of police presence at the funeral. If her father was the well-respected police Inspector that she believed him to be, why had so few officers paid their respects? Her second clue followed quickly on the first. She arrived home from the funeral to find the police searching her house for evidence of her father’s misdeeds as an officer of the law. Disbelieving, Gillian begins an investigation of her own. When she’s not sewing costumes for the Drury Lane Theatre, she’s asking questions that can get her in trouble. Will she find the answers she seeks? Viscount Thomas Lockwood grew up next door to Gillian’s grandparents. He remembers Gillian visiting as a little girl and offers to help Gillian keep an eye on her property. The more time he spends with her, the more intrigued he is with the little girl who is all grown up. Can he convince her that his interest is genuine – that he loves her for herself and not for her land? Can he keep her safe when she refuses to stop trying to clear her father’s name? Gillian careens from one misadventure to another. As she investigated the disappearance of a young girl, I kept expecting her to disappear in much the same way. The historical detail in the story is stunning – right down to the lines from Henry V and Cinderella. I loved that Ms. Byrd used wording from actual playbills of the time period and wording from actual newspaper clippings. It seems like lately I’ve read a lot of books that deal, however obliquely, with child sex trafficking. I hate to think that over 200 years later, humans are still battling this evil. Knowing that 200 years ago the “age of consent” was 13 horrifies me. I’m glad that organizations like The Salvation Army, like The Cause in this book, made it their business to help these children. Mystery, suspense, romance – even some humor – all find a place in A Lady in Disguise. If you love even ONE of those genres, you need to pick this one up. You WILL NOT be sorry you did!
I enjoyed trying to figure out the mysteries that Gillian's father kept as she was trying to figure out who murdered him. I was a little worried for her at times as there were a few things that threatened her life as she got close to figuring out what happened. The bit of romance that was included in this story was nice as well. It kind of lightened the mood in spots. It was nice how the author was able to put some facts from the time period in with the story. In fact at the end of the book after the story is all done she gives us some more historical notes. I thought she did a good job of getting the time and place down. Her descriptions were vivid and her characters well developed. I have enjoyed each of the books in this series. You can read them as a stand alone if you wish but I recommend reading them all. I am looking forward to the next series she will give us.
Sandra Byrd has done it again, writing a Gothic novel that's tough to put down. Even so, I put off reading the last chapter because I didn't want this book to end. Well written, well paced, intriguing story, and just the right amount of real history mixed in. I can't recommend it enough!
If you enjoy historical romantic suspense, A LADY IN DISGUISE is the book for you. It has all the elements I've come to expect: a young woman (Gillian Young) whose parents are no longer living, a couple of interested young men (Constable Francis Collingsworth, a friend since childhood, and Viscount Thomas Lockwood, the dashing neighbor to Gillian's ancestral home in Hampshire), and a mystery to be solved (Gillian's father, before he was killed, was a well-respected London police officer, but was he really involved in nefarious deeds as his partner has inferred?). There are footsteps following in the fog, searches of both her home in London and the house in Hampshire, harassment by the police, snubs, and who, oh, who, can Gillian trust? She is determined to find out the truth about her father. Gillian is a seamstress and designer for the theater and takes some young, former pantomime actresses under her wing as apprentices. It was interesting to read of the work, even back in the late 1880's, mission groups were doing to provide young women acceptable skills to keep them from being victims of child trafficking and prostitution. Though this is an integral part of the story, the main focus is the mystery surrounding Gillian's father. As with all great books of this genre, the story is told in first person, so we only find out (and experience) things as Gillian does, which makes the creepy parts even more delightfully creepy! But never fear, it has a very satisfactory ending. I highly recommend A LADY IN DISGUISE, as well as the previous books in the Daughters of Hampshire series. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd is a must-read for fans of romance, mystery, and Victorian England. Tie-ins with both Little Women and Cinderella – and how each is used to offer wisdom – will make bookish hearts smile fondly. The history is well-researched, and the early champions against human trafficking are given due honor. Gillian’s quest to learn the truth about her father kept me engaged and involved, and trying to determine which of her two suitors could be trusted had me nervous more than once! Make sure this one is on your TBR list! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)
A Lady in Disguise is a gothic story filled with intrigue and mystery told in first person that really put me in the heroine’s shoes. Starting out rather sadly and continuing along with that theme, we have Gillian Young bereft of her family and looking toward an uncertain future, quite possibly alone. Her father’s death and the absence of support from his fellow friends and officers have definitely caused Gillian to pause. Strange occurrences and threatening confrontations only begin to make her very suspicious of the events surrounding her father’s death. Add to that the growing unease that something sinister has been hidden and shadows of doubt have been cast upon her concerning her beloved father. Gillian is a costume designer who finds she is the heir to her family’s ancestral home. She meets her neighbor Viscount Thomas Lockwood who mesmerizes her yet she is unsure of him and his possible ulterior motives. We watch with her trying to interpret his actions and looks that are as puzzling to the reader as to the heroine. I waited in anticipation at each visit he had with her and hoped he revealed he was a noble character. I was also intrigued with the history that author Sandra Byrd brought into her story. I was not aware of the pantomime children in Victorian England who on one hand delighted the wealthy with the very elaborate plays they were involved with, and then to be turned out as outcasts when they are too old. Looked and judged oftentimes with an air of being disreputable. Gillian’s heart was very open to these poor children and her charity was love in action. This novel was filled with mystery, themes of love (neighbor, family, romantic), danger, and foreboding all set against an atmosphere that was growing only tenser with each page turning. I liked that there was just a brief touch of the supernatural, to give us a ray of hope when all else looked doomed. What a satisfying ending and a very nice nod to a certain favorite fairy tale. I received a copy of this novel for free from the author and publisher. I was not required to give a positive review and all views and opinions expressed are my own.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd, © 2017 Daughters of Hampshire Series, Book 3 My Review: I thoroughly enjoy reading Sandra Byrd's historical fiction novels! In this story the protagonist will be solving a mystery close to her heart ~ what is behind the death of her father and... henceforth uncovering circumstances revealing a hidden life? England ~ early-spring 1883 Miss Gillian Young and her attendant stand graveside at the burial of her Papa at the chapel in the village near Winton next to her Mamma with none in attendance beyond the vicar. Andrew Young had been an Inspector with the Metropolitan Police Chelsea division. Upon the late night arrival at Cheyne Gardens in Chelsea at her townhouse, they find there has been a break-in ~ and the interloper is still there rummaging through their house and goods. Questions loom as Gillian sets out on an adventure of her own to tie up the loose ends. Where it will carry her is unknown to find truth of dubious activities that has escaped all of them. As the newly appointed principal costume designer for the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and individual seamstress of designer gowns for a titled lady of merit for the April-to-mid-August Season, Gillian has access within the theatre and society. Her mother had been an actress here in past golden days. She aspires to deem clues to solve the mysterious happenings before the officials and those wanting secret substances to remain hidden. I took a deep breath and forced my mind to recall the joy of seeing my latest creations on that stage. What a pleasure that had been! --A Lady in Disguise, 32. In her search for seamstresses to assist with her theatrical wardrobe for the upcoming show, Gillian knows just where to begin her search: The Theatrical Mission. Like herbs in a pestle, life steadily ground out the essence of those who did not have access to comforts. --Ibid., 62. Her mother had spoken of the Cause in notes Gillian uncovered and instead of rejecting them, she indeed cared to include those no longer needed in pantomimes because of their advancing ages beyond being "cute." ~*~ Enters Lord Lockwood whom Gillian had gazed on horseback afar at the graveyard. He soon came to deliver a hamper from his mother with tea and delicacies. As heiress of Winton Park, her mother's childhood home, he offered to assemble a list of attentions needed for the large country home and estate. Upon returning to London to her work obligations, he stated he too was frequently in attendance to his investments and other concerns. A perfect opportunity for arrival it seems. Gillian first saw Thomas Lockwood's image again in her sketches that seemed to surface unbidden in her drawings. Until his carriage arrives at their London townhouse with a messenger requesting if he might call and bring his mother in attendance? Thus, begins an informal acquisition of the needs of Winton, and an open door to friendship. Warnings come to not interfere with the past and her visit to King Street where her father met his untimely death. As you likely will know, Gillian is not one to be set aside. Sandra Byrd is a tremendous author with detailed characters, which I love, and a firm story surrounding a past and a future. A hope attained! ~*~ You may read this book as a stand-alone, but you will love books 1 and 2 in the series too!! I was provided a copy of A Lady in Disguise by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
A Lady In Disguise is the third and final book in the Daughters of Hampshire series. Of the three books included in the series it is by far my favorite. If you've not read the first two books, never fear, each are stand alone titles so you can read them in any order. After reading the series I am convinced that Sandra Byrd will be a name synonymous with Gothic romance in the future. She has taken all of the elements from our beloved old school Gothics and brought them forward with a few updated twists. While most of the action takes place in London there is still a run down estate that lurks in the background. The heroine's parents are gone and her father's death has a mystery surrounding it. There are characters that should be trustworthy but they aren't. There are those that are trusted but shouldn't be. And there are certainly those that waffle back and forth between trustworthiness and sinister motives. The tension of figuring out the truth is delicious! A Lady In Disguise is a wonderfully entertaining tale but it also has a great bit of depth. Mixed among the mystery and intrigue is the very real truth of the ill treatment of women and children. Sandra Byrd gives us a glimpse into the hidden-in-plain-sight world of the poor, child labor, and prostitution. My favorite overriding element of the book was the fact that while we as ordinary people can't help the masses we can reach out and make a difference in the life of an individual. Think of the impact if we would each reach out to just one other individual and lift their burden. The domino effect would be massive. I look forward to reading the next series of Gothics from Sandra Byrd. I would recommend this book and the entire series to those that enjoy mystery and intrigue mixed with a bit of historical romance. If you have a book club this would be a wonderful choice. Lots of different discussion possibilities are included in the stories. I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.