Monday 29 May 2023

Book Review: The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman (Historical Fiction)

Title: The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 7 June 2023
Pages: 464
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Welcome to the secret life of the Colebrook twins: unnoticed old maids to most, but unseen champions to those in need - society be damned.

Lady Augusta Colebrook, 'Gus', is determinedly unmarried, bored by society life, and tired of being dismissed at the age of forty-two. She and her twin sister, Julia, who is grieving her dead betrothed, need a distraction. One soon presents itself: to rescue their friend's goddaughter, Caroline, from her violent husband.

The sisters set out to Caroline's country estate with a plan, but their carriage is accosted by a highwayman. In the scuffle, Gus accidentally shoots the ruffian, only to discover he is Lord Evan Belford, an acquaintance from their past who was charged with murder and exiled to Australia twenty years ago. With Lord Evan injured and unconscious, the sisters have no choice but to bring him on their mission to save Caroline. What follows is a high adventure full of danger, clever improvisation, heart-racing near misses, and a little help from a revived and rather charming Lord Evan.

And so begin the beguiling adventures of the Colebrook twins ...


I had previously read Goodman's The Dark Days Club. I enjoyed that book but somehow never got around to finishing the trilogy, so I was happy to return to her writing with The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies. This book was a delightful read from start to finish. The characters were memorable and engaging and well developed throughout, while the historical setting was well established and perfectly presented. The pacing was excellent and it was always difficult to put it down to go to sleep as I constantly wanted to know what would happen next. There was a strong feminist slant to the work, but it never felt anachronistic, and there was a good blend of humour and adventure. I am definitely keen to read on in book two. Recommended for fans of Regency romance who also like a good dose of high-paced action and wit. It gets five stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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