1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard's shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance. It's going to take a lot of logical thinking to untangle the complex threads of this multi-layered mystery, and Miss Dido Kent is just the woman to do it.
I hadn't heard anything about this book series until Goodreads showed it to me (that's beginning to be the story of my reading life, haha) but, while it was a "secular" adult book- something I usually avoid simply because I don't like a lot of "content" in my novels- there wasn't anything in the reviews I saw to raise any red flags, so I decided to try it.
What a delightfully written book! It was interesting- with a solid mystery I didn't solve beforehand- and while there were many of the topics mentioned in other murder mysteries (violence, adultery, ect.) it was all handled with the tact and delicacy of a true Regency lady, even if many of these themes were prominent. There were times I worried that it would delve into more sordid topics, but it never did. I probably wouldn't recommend this book to younger readers, but I personally did not find the content too offensive.
Dido Kent herself was an intensely likable character; one I could root for and relate to. Not only was she intelligent (but not more than believably so) but she had a good set of morals and earned my respect. I also appreciated that she kept to her times; while certainly a bit different from those around her, she still felt like she came from the nineteenth century, not the twenty-first.
Overall, I really enjoyed Bellfield Hall, and I'm sure I shall be seeing more of Miss Dido Kent in the future.