Review: Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

murder-at-the-brightwell“Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who regrets her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiancé, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will test not only her friendship with Gil, but will upset the status quo with her husband.
Amory accompanies Gil to the Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies’ man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Amory is determined to prove his innocence and find the real killer, despite attempted dissuasion from the disapproving police inspector on the case. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Amory enlists his reluctant aid in clearing Gil’s name. As the stakes grow higher and the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim.
Murder at the Brightwell is a delicious mystery in which murder invades polite society and romance springs in unexpected places. Weaver has penned a debut in the tradition of Jacqueline Winspear.” – Goodreads

Amory Ames is in the middle of a love/hate relationship with Milo, her husband of five years. After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Milo soon returned to his bachelor behavior – traveling to various exotic locales such as Monte Carlo, and is widely known as quite the playboy. Amory never knows when she will see him: when he’ll return home, or – god forbid – when he’ll be leaving again. When Amory receives a surprise visit from her former fiancé, Gil – the man she jilted to run away with Milo – and he requests a favor, she’s all ears. Gil wants her to accompany him to the Brightwell Hotel, near the seaside – but that’s not all. He wants her to to tell their fellow guests that she has left Milo and is there as Gil’s romantic interest. Gil quickly explains that he is trying to prevent his sister, Emmaline, from marrying her fast-talking playboy fiancé, Rupert Howe. His hope is that Emmaline will learn from Amory’s “mistake” and realize that marrying Rupert would be a grave error. Amory, who is thrilled to see Gil after all of this time – and who is angry and resentful toward Milo – happily offers her assistance, begins packing immediately, and the fun begins to flow.

When Amory and Gil arrive at the Brightwell to meet the rest of their party, Amory is not impressed – while thrilled to see her old friend Emmaline, she takes an immediate dislike to Rupert, as well as several other odd or unpleasant members of the party. The hotel, however, is gorgeous, and Amory is excited to be near the seaside – a welcome respite from the boredom and loneliness of the English countryside. The only downside to her stay at the Brightwell is the potential for scandal due to her association with Gil. To make things harder, Amory is faced with the task of sorting out her feelings for Gil, as well as for Milo. Is her marriage over? Is it time to call it quits and move on – possibly to Gil? Or does she still love Milo enough to stay with him and try to work things out? It’s a complicated matter, which becomes even more so when Milo arrives at the hotel to join the party. Amory’s decision-making is pushed to the side, however, when Rupert Howe turns up dead!

Gil is an immediate suspect – his distaste for Rupert is well-known, and there is incriminating evidence pointing in his direction. He is eventually arrested, to Amory’s shock and dismay. She vows to prove Gil innocent if it’s the last thing she does. Investigating Rupert’s death, however, exposes her to danger she didn’t expect – and when other members of her party start “dropping like flies” Amory realizes she may have bitten off a bit more than she can chew.

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver is an absolutely delightful read. This is a light but interesting murder mystery with just enough playful banter added in to bring on a bit of a smile every few pages. I loved that the reader is kept guessing until the very end – I had made my guess much earlier in the novel, but doubted myself throughout, until I was rewarded in one of the final scenes with the true identity of the killer. The love triangle between Amory, Milo, and Gil was a very real one; the state of Amory and Milo’s relationship broke my heart – there were a couple of scenes between the two of them that had a few tears leaking out of my eye. I have to say I truly, truly enjoyed this reading experience and am so very hopeful that Ashley Weaver adapts this novel into a continuing series. She would have a faithful reader right here, and there is no doubt in my mind that she would find many, many more to spare.

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. Read it today!

5 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries

 

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