My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Maggi Andersen’s latest release, Unmasking Lady Helen, is a heart-warming regency romance. I had previously read two of the author’s earlier works and been quite impressed so kind of binge reading her backlist right now. I found Unmasking Lady Helen a bit different in tone than the other two. But it’s a very lovely story that you’ll definitely end up loving.
Unmasking Lady Helen is the first book of The Kinsey Family. Lady Helen, the eldest daughter of Lord Kinsey, a researcher and an explorer, is what you’d call a ‘mother hen’. Well, our hero definitely thought she was! A loving eldest daughter who loves to take care of her family, Helen is an all around sweetheart. Her siblings range from 22 yrs. old heir Harry to 18yrs. old Diana the debutante, 14yrs. old Toby to the youngest, 4/5 yrs. old Alexander whom everybody affectionately calls Zander. Helen herself is 24. She was never married and hopes to become the spinster aunt as time passes. She likes helping around the house, take care of her siblings, especially Zander who is completely crazy for her. She also likes to help her mother with her charity and everything else that may need her attention in frequent absence of their traveler father.
In truth, Helen would love to marry and have her own family. But a tragic incident during her first season ruined her chances. Today Helen is afraid to trust a man who is not of her family, to that length, let alone thinking of a future with him. Her parents are very protective of her, though her siblings have no idea. Not their fault, all 3 were pretty young and Zander wasn’t probably even born. Helen would also like to spread her wings and travel with her father. It’s one of her dreams that she knows won’t come true because of her gender. Plus her father still thinks of her as a fragile thing, though she’d recovered quite well and doing fine now. But one can always dream and Helen has been dreaming about that for a while now.
Unbeknownst to Helen, things were about to change as Lord Peyton enters her life one fine morning. It was the ever curious Diana noticed him walking and keeping vigil close to their house. Helen wasn’t that interested in a stranger, while Diana was way too interested. She’d even taken note of his noble feature and handsome physique and was beyond intrigued by him! They do end up making an acquaintance when Peyton or Jason (wish I could remember his surname :/, don’t think I read any in the book) decides to drop by. He was actually keeping watch for an unknown informant who was to meet him in front of the Kinsey House. When that individual failed to show up, Jason had been quite disappointed. But he also noticed that one of the Kinsey girls and a boy who could only be her brother, surreptitiously watching him. It was one of those things you can’t really ignore. He knew about the famous explorer Lawrence Kinsey quite well, why not introduce himself? After all he’s supposed to be investigating and already guessed that his elusive informant may live around this area.
Jason is also the eldest in his family, the heir to the title. He has a windowed younger sister called Lizzy who has just gotten out of the mourning, while his scamp of a bother Charles is always getting entangled in one scrape or the other. Jason isn’t unhappy in life but he sometimes wishes he had more to look forward to. Marriage wasn’t one of the things he wanted to jump in, especially after the death of his fiancée in a reckless riding accident. But I don’t think he didn’t find the idea abhorrent either. And he was assured of the fact that if he doesn’t sire any heir, Charles can always take over after he’s gone.
Jason has weathered the war, been a spy to the Crown. When it was supposed to be a time to settle down, and relax into boredom, he was called by his superiors to take note of something important. A letter sent by the above mentioned unknown individual, wanting to meet Lord Peyton to exchange some valuable information. Since he was specifically asked for, Jason had to get involved in the investigation, which led him to the Kinsey House as the meeting place. But where was this person? Jason wasn’t sure if it was some kind of joke or not and was getting impatient.
Jason’s meeting to the Kinseys was rather interesting. They were a jolly, tight-knit bunch. Jason had to figure out something to tell them about his presence in front of their house, but he considered this particular visit a success. Though Lady Diana was a tall, willowy blonde beauty who’d surely win many hearts when she debuts, Jason’s attentions were instantly captured by her more subdued older sister, Helen. Helen wasn’t as chatty as Diana but her reserve gave her a certain elegant air. She wasn’t as tall and rather curvy but she was all Jason could see. So much so that when he learned from Lady Kinsey’s words that recently, a manservant had fallen violently ill rather suddenly and passed on, he became instantly alert. This can’t be a co-incidence, can it? Was this the man he was looking for?
The answer to his question was revealed when he found Bartholomew or Bart had indeed been the man he’s been looking for. He knew Bart while in the army, who worked under him and was someone he liked. His sudden death that looked suspiciously like poisoning brought many questions and no answer. But above all, Jason became worried for the Kinseys, especially Helen who has already stolen his heart. He instinctively knew that they maybe in danger. With the absence of Lord Kinsey, he takes it upon himself to be the protector of the family until he found out who is behind this nefarious plot and why.
Helen, who was determined to never marry almost as much, if not more than Jason himself, couldn’t shake Jason off her mind. She was sure this won’t go anywhere but forgetting him was easier said than done. Jason was all she could think of. He was everything she could dream of in a prospective husband; tall, handsome and a veritable gentleman. He’s also kind and gracious with her, never behaving in a way to rouse any apprehension. Yet he let her know in so many ways that he wanted her. To Helen, there was no greater aphrodisiac because she felt safe with him. And if you read her backstory, you can easily associate why that was so, so important for her! Helen also appreciated the fact that Jason loved his own family, his siblings as much as she did hers, which was a boon in itself. She could so fall in love with a man like him! If only.............
Though both of them thought it was best that they try to stay away from each-other, it would’ve never happened, for Jason was almost always around Kinsey House because of the investigation, and Helen decided to become his assistant. LOL They soon figured out they liked being together way too much to overlook it. The attraction was there, so was the longing. So how could they stay away?
The rest of the story was rather uncomplicated. No headache-inducing drama anywhere which I absolutely loved. You just know that Jason and Helen belong together as you cheer them along the way when they investigate the murder of Bart and uncover the truth. There was another sub-plot concerning Jason’s sister Lizzy too. I can only hope that that’s leading to her own book. And it seems Charlie and Diana have already formed an attachment. ;) We’re not introduced to all the Kinseys yet but I really hope to in the next installments. Eagerly looking forward to the next in the series. 4 stars and recommended!