My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Discovering Miss Dalrymple is the book 6 of Emily Larkin’s intriguing Baleful Godmother series. I’ve been following this series since book 1, and to tell you the truth, despite having a bit of a hiccup in the beginning of it, I have come to love this series. This latest installment was no different with a storyline of the usual flair of magic and it’s lovely characters.
The Baleful Godmother is a Regency-set series based on female characters who have special “gifts” or powers. But if you want to start from the very beginning, you can with The Fey Quartet. These are a set of novellas listed as “prologue” to this series. Set in Medieval-era England, the prologues explain exactly how our unique heroines come to inherit their “gifts”.
Books 1 and 2, Unmasking Miss Appleby and Resisting Miss Merryweather had something common in them apart from Baletongue, our dubious Fairy Godmother. Heroines of both of these books, Charlotte and Anne AKA Merry (respectively), were bestowed their gifts at the age of 25, which I thought was THE age they were supposed to have their wish fulfilled and 2. They were cousins so the stories were linked that way. However, the h of book 3 Trusting Miss Trentham, Letty, has had her wish fulfilled at 21. “Why” is explained in this installment as the h, Eleanor or Nelly, had her wish fulfilled at 23. The women, who were originally granted a wish each, were sisters, and our heroines simply descended from a different sister each, hence the age of their wish fulfillment differs from one another. Therein lies the uniqueness of this series, you never know to which direction the author is going to lead you. An element of surprise is always there.
Charlotte had no idea about her gift because she was orphaned at an early age, so Baletongue took her by complete surprise. She was living quite miserably with her mean uncle’s family and this gave her the opportunity to get out of there and earn money on her own. She chose shapeshifting and transformed herself into a man to get the lucrative job offered by Marcus, Lord Cosgrove, our H, in a newspaper advert. Merry, on the other hand, wasn’t introduced in book 1 but she was already aware of her Fey inheritance. She knew she’d be visited by Baletongue but was ever unsure of what to choose. She was also an orphan by the time her story began so she was living with Charlotte and Marcus when she met Sir Barnaby Ware, who is also Marcus’s closest buddy. Well, at that time, they had a falling out but book 2 helps mend that bridge bit by bit. His visit also brings Merry and Barnaby together. Something closer to a tragedy later in the story prompts Merry to choose the gift of healing to save people’s lives. By the time book 3 begins, both girls were happily married and expecting.
Letty had her own inheritance, yet she had a really bad luck in the marriage mart. Her ‘plain’ looks wouldn’t have been a barrier for any fortune-hunter eager to snare her fortune. But she’d already had her wish fulfilled by then, so she could hear lies from truth and none of those idiots even had a chance with their sweet nothings. Letty’s gift or ‘quirk’, as others thought of it, was quite known to her circle and that’s how Icarus Reid, a former soldier, found her. He was bend on exacting revenge, a mission of life and death. He needed Letty’s help in locating a traitor. I loved, LOVED their book and couldn’t wait for the next one!
I’d like to note here that Merry, Barnaby and Marcus do make an appearance here and finally, Letty got to know that she’s not the only one with the same dubious godmother! How fun, right?
Book 4, Claiming Mister Kemp, is a novella between two characters who appeared in book 3 but it’s an M/M romance. I don’t usually read M/M but I enjoyed this novella. The story also takes place quite simultaneously around Letty and Icarus’s book so if you’re not into M/M romances, you can skip it. But IMO, you should give this a try. :)
Book 5, Ruining Miss Wrotham has to be my most favorite one thus far! The central characters, Eleanor and Mordecai were totally new to the series, yet it felt like I’ve known them always. Their chemistry was incredible, as was the way the author made us fell in love with them as they fell in love with each-other. Mordecai was already in love with Eleanor, longing for her, hoping to find a way to gain her attentions. His past still made him a blacksheep despite his money and influence which is the reason why he didn’t think he was worthy of someone as pure and proper as Eleanor. Don’t you just love it when they’re proven wrong? :D Eleanor’s journey to locate her runaway sister proved to be the most enlightening one of her life. Her a-hole of a fiancé refused to provide the help needed for the venture and Eleanor was despairing. Mordecai stepped in instantly, no questions asked. But then he’d have done anything to help her, hoping that she took notice of him. What he didn’t know that Eleanor had, indeed, taken notice of him many times. Only she was already engaged, and didn’t know what to do with a tall and dark, broody handsome man. Mordecai was only happy to show her in that journey. ;)
Eleanor’s chosen gift was to manipulate fire. It was a dangerous one to be sure, but her gift becomes something absolutely crucial at the climax of the story. Predictably, Mordecai didn’t take it as easily knowing what she’s capable of. But with a little help from Lord Marcus it was easier for him to come to terms with the possibility of the existence of magic in his life. :)
I believe from Ruining Miss Wrotham this series veered a little away from the original characters. The new set of characters are equally lovely, though they aren’t directly related to our first heroines. Discovering Miss Dalrymple is connected to book 5 slightly because our h, Georgiana, is a cousin to Eleanor.
But the story begins with the narration of our Duke of Vickery, the handsome and accomplished Alexander St. Clare. TBH, he takes the center stage during the whole narrative but that only made me love the story even more. We get a glimpse of Alexander’s life and the fact that he’s been madly in love with Georgiana for the better part of his teenage years and whole of adulthood. His love of her was so completely true that he’d stand by her whenever she needed his help. But knowing Georgiana never showed any romantic interest in him, Alexander never pushed his luck. He even supported her when she became engaged to one of their closest friends, Hubert. Unfortunately, that wedding never took place as her fiancé went missing. When that happened, Alexander was equally bereaved and glad. Bereaved for Georgiana; also because Hubert was one of his closest friends. But glad in a way that he still had a chance with his beloved Georgiana. For the past few years since Huber’s disappearance, he and Georgiana have became quite close. It was not that he directly went in pursuit of her, but Alexander provided the much needed support and companionship she needed in those difficult days. And hoped that she’d come to see him in a different way.
Thankfully, Georgiana has. Their beautiful friendship has just started blossoming into something deeper. Alexander knew Georgiana has started to look at him in a different way, something other than ‘just a good friend’. He should’ve been elated, rushing to solidify their relationship by proposing to her. But his world tilted on its axis when he found a diary by his deceased father implementing that he may not be the real Alexander St. Clare. The implication shook him so badly that Alexander didn’t know what to do, so he turned to the only family he knew who could provide some insight, maybe some reassurance too. And the only person who’d give him the much needed comfort. It was Georgiana and her family.
Georgiana’s parents already loved Alexander like a son knowing him since his childhood. Their estates were close by, which is how the friendship formed. Alexander’s suspicion came as much a surprise to them as it was for him. No he didn’t know that Georgiana had a fairy godmother, and that she could help locate anything missing, be it someone living or an inanimate object. That was another momentous part of the story, from where Alexander must decide the course of his life; whether he should continue living as he was, or try and find out the truth of his birth. His origins. Magic should’ve had no place in the whole process, but then he didn’t know that his perspective of life will change once again when Georgiana decides to confess her carefully guarded secret to Alexander with her parents’ permission. Her intention was good no doubt. She simply wanted to help the man she loved, but she also knew that the whole thing could go horribly wrong. Nevertheless, it was a risk she was willing to take as long as it helped Alexander find closure.
The journey to seek the truth wasn’t an easy one by any means. It was heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the same time. There were scenes in the story that made me teary-eyed. Alexander would’ve been lost had Georgiana and her family not provided the much needed love and support he badly needed. It was honest and loving, the difficult journey made easy with her presence in his life. All I can say is that there was no doubt in my mind that Alexander and Georgiana belonged together. They had this easy and loving relationship, in total adoration of one-another and I was only happy to see them happy in the end.
The only thing that *kind of* bugged me was the fact that everybody called Alexander as Vickery or Vic. I love the name Alexander and, though I could care less about the others, Georgiana calling him Vickery ALL THE TIME kinda felt weird. I had hoped she’d start calling him Alexander regularly when they finally figured out that they want to be more than ‘just friends’. She may have called him Alexander maybe once or twice in the story but not enough for my liking. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, but it did. :/
In conclusion, I’d say Discovering Miss Dalrymple was a great ending to the series. No, it’s not the official ending just yet as Emily assured me. However, there won’t be any installments until next year. I was happy to know that she has plans for a sub-series of sort based on the same fairy godmother theme. She gave me some hints but I’m sure I’m not at a liberty to announce her plans on my review. hahaha So yes, I’d be eagerly waiting to see what our beloved (?) Baletongue is up to next. :D 4.5 stars.rs.
Review copy received from the author, thanks Emily!