A review by lastblossom
Daring Duplicity, the Wellington Mysteries, Vol.1: Adventures of a Lesbian Victorian Detective, by Edale Lane

adventurous lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
Thanks to BookSirens for a review copy.

tl;dr
A collection of light, fast-paced mysteries threaded together with a slowly unfolding wlw romance makes for a fun afternoon read.

About
A set of five novellas, each featuring a different mystery solved by detective Stetson Goody, a woman in Victorian London who poses as male investigator Xavier Wellington. The five stories are woven together with a narrative about Stetson's personal life including her family and her romances.

Thoughts
The cover of the book promises "adventures of a lesbian Victorian detective," and everything past that fulfills the promise admirably. The story is broken up into five (six-ish) mysteries that Stetson solves with calculated efficiency. Mystery storytelling draws purposeful inspiration from Conan Doyle's work, each one disconnected from the others and quickly solved within the space of the novella. While we are able to follow Stetson's process, the reader is rarely privy to her internal thoughts, making each reveal a surprise for reader and character alike. Stetson employs a truly dizzying array of disguises to solve her cases, which adds an extra layer of fun to each adventure. The interludes about her personal life are more intimate, and paint a very endearing picture of a woman doing her best to figure herself out. The two women she romances are unique and interesting, and I am relieved that it didn't devolve into a messy romance triangle. (Even leaning into my favorite trope, "my gf and my ex are friends now.") Romance is mostly sweet handholding and kisses, with off-screen sexual encounters alluded to. Overall, a great afternoon read for fans of Victorian mysteries, sweet romances, or all of the above.

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