If you’ve been following along with this website for a while, then you know that Sandra Byrd keeps topping my list of my favorite authors. Why? Because Sandra Byrd always delivers an intriguing plot, a sneaky villain, and a strong protagonist.
Full disclosure: I receive a free copy of this book, but my opinions are my own. And I’m using affiliate links.
While I love many authors, I promise that I’ll only ever share books that I really really liked or that I absolutely loved. I’m all about book recommendations and don’t like to talk about bad books (although that could be hilarious). After all, we’ve all read one.
A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd
Have you ever read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? Back in English or Literature class, right? Me, too. However, after reading those dark yet hopeful stories, I sometimes thirsted for more. However, that style of writing is almost a lost art.
Enter Sandra Byrd. Somehow Byrd incorporates the artistry of these old gothic novels into her Daughters of Hampshire series while still maintaining a grasp on what readers of today love. Byrd creates layered characters in danger of certain problems outside of their control and finishes the story in a timely manner (remember how long-winded some of the old novels can be).
About A Lady in DisguiseAfter the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.
Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?
Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.
(blurb from Amazon)
A Lady in Disguise Struggles
So the story takes a while to build, which means that it’s slow going for the first few chapters. This might not be a huge struggle, and Sandra Byrd used the slow build skillfully.
Throughout the plot, Sandra Byrd keeps you guessing with very vague information, and sometimes this could be annoying because I just wanted to see through the fog!
Viewings of the main love interest are few and far between, which had me wondering if Gillian actually did have a love interest.
Ironically, the things that I struggled with in this novel also added to the overall enjoyment of the book. Yes, I know. How does that work? It does.
A Lady in Disguise Loves
LOVED the slow build because by the end we were galloping to the satisfying ending and the revealing of the vague information.
LOVED not seeing the main love interest all the time because Gillian needed to work out some issues on her own and figure out who was worthy of her trust.
LOVED the mentorship that Gillian had with some girls she rescued from the theatre mission to teach them how to see and earn an honest living.
LOVED the references to Little Women and Alice in Wonderland.
LOVED that I couldn’t accurately foresee the ending until Sandra Byrd tied up all the loose ends.
On a scale of cotton candy to Brussels sprouts, A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd is a Blackberry snow cone, which might be considered a modern day Blackberry ice (as seen in the book). After all, sometimes the ice on your tongue hides the true flavor. Mounded high with layers of ice and an ombré of flavor, a snow cone intensifies until the final taste, saving the sweetest for last. And that’s delicious.
Gillian Young, a kind and ambitious seamstress, accepts a position as the head costume designer for the production of Cinderella soon after the mysterious death of her police father. Her father’s police colleagues suspect that he lead a criminal double life, but Gillian can’t believe it. As she begins her own investigation, she receives threats. Who can she trust?
What I love about Sandra Byrd’s writing is that somehow she creates a likable, strong heroine while manipulating a vague and foggy mystery. I felt like I was squinting through the London fog. Throughout the story, I knew someone was out to ruin Gillian’s life as she tried to be a productive member of society while finding out the truth about her father, but just as soon I suspected one character, he or she proved not guilty for the time-being, anyway. Even better, the revelation of the villain(s) not only made sense but also surprised me, and I love that Sandra Byrd created 3D characters with backstory and believable motivations.
P.S. I was not mad to see references to the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland, quotes from Little Women, and the use of my first name (coincidence I’m sure) for one of the characters in this book. Actually, I was quite happy by all three!