Corinne deCoventry, a young widow from Berkeley Square, discovers that her pearls have gone missing at a masquerade ball. And even worse, they’re the pearls she was supposed to return to her late husband’s family in the next few days, the pearls worth ten thousand pounds! With the help of her cousin Coffen Pattle and her two gentlemen friends/admirers, the Marquess of Luten and Sir Reginald Prance, Corinne sets out to discover who took the necklace and why. But when the investigation turns up a grisly murder, the stakes turn out to be higher than anyone might have guessed.
As a Regency romance, this book was fantastic. The witty banters of the characters and the immersive charm of the historical milieu is some of the best that I’ve read. As a murder mystery, it was more the opposite of fantastic. The red herrings and denouement were exceedingly contrived and didn’t seem altogether plausible.
I will most certainly read another Joan Smith novel–she has, goodness knows, how many of them!–and I may try one of her plain old romances next time, with no murder waiting in the wings.