Review: Darcie Wilde’s THE SECRET OF THE LOST PEARLS (Rosalind Thorne Mystery #6)

Secret_Lost_Pearls“A spinster woman in reduced circumstances was likely to be underestimated in any well-to-do household.”

Given the name of this blog, this phrase, from Wilde’s The Secret of the Lost Pearls, struck me. Wilde’s sixth of a series is dedicated not to Austen’s heroines, but her spinsters…with a nice dash of romance to give a nice little twist. After reading Wilde’s Lost Pearls, I am sorry I didn’t read the series from the start: it is well-written and offers an engaging, easily-liked heroine, hero, and best friend. It doesn’t have the ensemble “feel” of Penrose’s Wrexford and Sloane series, but that is not a discredit. Set in a similar era, Wilde, in a way, does a better job of integrating historical detail, without Penrose’s penchant for long, ponderous, historically-dense paragraphs. Maybe this makes Wilde somewhat “lighter”? I’m not sure, she makes up in characterization, however, what she may lack in historical detail. I certainly enjoyed Wilde’s latest more than Penrose’s. Enough speculation, here is the publisher’s blurb for premise et. al.:

Rosalind Thorne may not have a grand fortune of her own, but she possesses virtues almost as prized by the haut ton: discretion, and a web of connections that enable her to discover just about anything about anyone. Known as a “most useful woman,” Rosalind helps society ladies in need—for a modest fee, of course—and her client roster is steadily increasing.

Mrs. Gerald Douglas, née Bethany Hodgeson, presents Rosalind with a particularly delicate predicament. A valuable pearl necklace has gone missing, and Bethany’s husband believes the thief is Nora, Bethany’s disgraced sister. Nora made a scandalous elopement at age sixteen and returned three years later, telling the family that her husband was dead.

But as Rosalind begins her investigations, under cover of helping the daughters of the house prepare for their first London season, she realizes that the family harbors even more secrets than scandals. The intrigue swirling around the Douglases includes fraud, forgery, blackmail, and soon, murder. And it will fall to Rosalind, aided by charming Bow Street officer Adam Harkness, to untangle the shocking truth and discover who is a thief—and who is a killer.  

If there is a flaw to Wilde’s mystery, it’s that the narrative drags: a more deft editing hand would have done some pruning and let those intense scenes where the characters shine stand out even more. But that is MHO… Truth be told, the characters kept me reading, that is, the main ones. Rosalind is a deeply ethical, true-to-herself figure and that happens to be my favourite. Her hero, Bow Street officer Adam Harkness is, in turn, my favourite kind of hero: ethical, unassuming, gentle, funny, hubah-handsome, and gives the limelight to Rosalind while always being a support and companion. Like Penrose, Wilde creates an unusual “for its time” household for Rosalind, who lives with her best friend, funny, eccentric Alice Littlefield. Rosalind, Adam, and Alice are not exactly pariahs, but still outside the pale of convention and I loved them even more for it.

The focus of the mystery, however, the Douglases, were in many places, an interesting if inconsistent creation: under the assumption that Wilde is creating a situation and figures who need Rosalind to peel away their secrets, they tend to veer from sympathetic to “un” in a few pages, even while the plot dragged. The villain’s characterization in particular, Nora’s resurrected husband Cantrell, is offered a complexity and depth in the mystery’s resolution that I, at least, found unsatisfying. Nevertheless, no matter, these are not major quibbles. I enjoyed Rosalind, Adam, and Alice (more Alice, please!) so much that I ambled along with the inconsistent Douglases for the sake, also, of some fine writing on Wilde’s part. I adored Adam and Rosalind’s relationship and the epilogue was lovely. On Miss Austen’s scale, Wilde’s Lost Pearls offer “real comfort,” Emma.

Wilde’s sixth Rosalind Thorne mystery released in late December of 2022 and may be found at your preferred vendors. Please note that I received an ARC from Kensington Books for the purpose of writing this review, via Edelweiss+.

14 thoughts on “Review: Darcie Wilde’s THE SECRET OF THE LOST PEARLS (Rosalind Thorne Mystery #6)

  1. Oh, I am glad you enjoyed this. I’ve been with Rosalind from the beginning–this series is a ‘must read’ for me. I think you would enjoy the earlier books. Rosalind has a very interesting backstory that is barely hinted at in this book. There is a nice ensemble of continuing characters–they just didn’t have a lot to do in this story.
    I am already eager for the next book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! I thought there were “hints” of a past and I’m curious to find out what they were all about. The strange thing about the ARC is that the pub called this the first in a new series, so I was quite confused by that because I knew it was a fave of my trusty recc-people, like you. And then I thought maybe it was an offshoot? In any case, I was happy to read and will be happy to discover what Rosalind’s life is all about. I do like that Adam Harkness: he’s really lovely. That moment when he said, “And you.” Wowza! I shall join you in being eager for the next book!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too am confused by the ‘first in series’ thing (I went looking at amazon, and it was not helpful at all). I’ll have to look for these at the library, because they’re unfortunately beyond my book budget, but look for them I will!


        1. *phew* So, it wasn’t just me…could it be that Wilde changed pubs? Who knows? But given the opportunity, it’s a good series and maybe you can score them in order of “actual” pub? Happy reading!!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, I’m hoping to read them in order, and thank you!

            (these days reading hasn’t happened much, while crafting is ‘all the rage’ chez aztec, but hope, it springs)


            1. I wish I could go back to knitting as I was, I loved it, but the pesky hands aren’t what they used to be and I need to “save” them for the work-keyboard. But maybe on my March break!

              Liked by 1 person

          2. Nope–same publisher. However, book #5 (Counterfeit Suitor), wrapped up a major story arc. I actually thought, for a moment, that it might be the end of the series, as everyone we cared about was at a happy, looking to the future, point in their lives at the end of the book.
            However, as publishers sometimes do, they’ve changed the cover design–big time!


            1. Thank you much for the clarification…I certainly hope that “arc” takes Adam and Rosalind to an even happier place. I really loved the way the epilogue was so subtle, yet hopeful. And I do love Alice, so I’d like to know more about her. *sigh* I’ll have to go back now to the start… 😉

              (The cover design reminds me of the Wrexford and Sloane series.)


  2. Before this series, Wilde wrote a couple of historical romances. My favorite was “The Accidental Abduction”, which was quite funny. As the title hints, it has a bit of a madcap plot. So when she switched to mystery, I read the first Rosalind Thorne book, “A Useful Woman”. It was enjoyable, but not compelling enough for me to search out the next book, so the series kind of fell off my radar. I guess I should give it another try, it sounds like they got better as they went along.


  3. Ok, you turned me on to Sebastian St. Cyr & Wrexford and Penrose series, I see I now have a brand new series to glom on! YES! (I also love Kat Hollaway series!)


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