A Woman of Consequence Review
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As a college student, I loved the courtly Regency romance of a Jane Austen novel. I enjoyed getting caught up in the characters, the costumes, the balls, and—of course—the love stories. These days, though, I’d more quickly pick up a mystery—with a crime to solve and a cast of suspects to investigate. Thanks to author Anna Dean and her Dido Kent mysteries, though, I can have the best of both worlds.

In A Woman of Consequence, 36-year-old spinster Dido Kent finds herself shirking the usual ladylike tasks of stitching and mending as her curiosity sends her off on a pair of investigations.

The first mystery is really more of a ghost story—one that turns dangerous when a visiting young woman is injured after reportedly seeing the ghostly Grey Nun in the ruins of the old abbey. As she recovers from a concussion, another mystery arises when the skeleton of Miss Elinor Fenn, a long-missing governess, is found after a nearby pond is drained.

Miss Fenn’s death is ruled a suicide, causing her body to be buried on unhallowed ground. But the child whom she raised—now the mistress of Madderstone—is convinced that Miss Fenn couldn’t have taken her own life, so she asks Dido to clear the woman’s name.

Meanwhile, Dido anxiously awaits the return of Mr. Lomax—his first visit since she rejected his marriage proposal.

Jane Austen would be proud of Anna Dean. A Woman of Consequence keeps the prim and proper tone of a classic Regency romance while blending in just the right touches of murder and mayhem. Despite whispered ghost stories and the discovery of a long-dead body on the grounds of Madderstone, there are plenty of other things for ladies to attend to: shirts to mend, balls to attend, and matchmaking to be done, too.

Still, Dido Kent isn’t just another lady. As a single woman who’s entirely dependent on her older brother for survival, she’s well aware of the pressures and expectations placed upon women of her time. But, having lived independently with her sister, Eliza, for years before being forced to move in with her brother and his family, Dido doesn’t always play by the rules. Though she lets her curiosity lead her to all kinds of unsightly places, her common sense and her unique perspective make her a likeable sleuth.

Mr. Lomax, meanwhile, makes a fitting companion for the crime-solving spinster. Though he’s often shocked and appalled—and sometimes even angered—by Dido’s insistence on treading into territory that’s clearly unbecoming of a delicate lady, he’s determined to win her heart. And while his arguments and all-around stubbornness, though understandable for a man of his era, sometimes make him less than endearing, readers will appreciate his unwavering loyalty and his effort to understand the woman whom he claims to love.

With its intriguing characters and its cozy but captivating mystery, A Woman of Consequence offers readers a carefully concocted mix of romance, culture, and mystery. It’s a delightful whodunit that’s sure to please mystery buffs, as well as Jane Austen fans and former English majors like me.

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