Within These Gilded Halls

- Abigail Wilson

Goodreads Book Blurb:

After studying art under Miss Drake, a renowned painter, Phoebe Radcliff is certain she can finally move beyond the childish mistake that’s kept her away from home. She is thrilled when Miss Drake employs her to complete a complicated ballroom renovation, believing it will lead to a new, happier future.

Everything changes, however, the moment Miss Drake is murdered. With her last breath she imparts the location of a clue to Phoebe. Can the biggest secret of Avonthorpe Hall be true–the rumored treasure real? Phoebe is tasked to finish her work in the ballroom by Miss Drake’s infuriatingly regimented yet all-too-handsome nephew, Lt. Graham Burke. Determined to fulfill the promise she made to her beloved teacher to find the treasure, Phoebe also works to uncover the truth about Miss Drake’s death–surely the two must be linked. If only she can do so before Lt. Burke leases the house.

But dark shadows line the gilded halls of Avonthorpe and soon enough, Phoebe realizes she’s not the only person who knows about the clues. What’s worse, she’ll need Lt. Burke’s help to stay ahead of whoever is hard on her heels. If only she weren’t so attracted to him. And why is she? She’s always had far greater plans for her life than settling into marital bliss.

Caught up in a deadly race for answers, Phoebe must find a way to breach the shroud of lies that surrounds every last resident in the house and, more importantly, face a past she’s been running away from for far too long.

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My Review:

***Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.

average:
3/5
Now, I am all for a Regency romance – I find them easy to escape into with the repressed emotions, unrequited love, and misunderstandings over accidental eavesdropping – it’s all great. And while Within These Gilded Halls has a lot of this, it gets a little muddled with the addition of the murder mystery and treasure hunt.

And after quite a meandering narrative for most of the book, a lot happens in the last 25% that wasn’t particularly unexpected. All of the twists and surprises happened at the end, although I don’t think it was supposed to feel like that. Because there was so much going on, Phoebe and Graham would get excited to tell each other about one development but then get distracted by another aspect of the story – ‘hey, I found the next clue in the treasure hunt, oh wow you’re carrying a pistol, yes I’m worried about your safety with a killer on the loose do you know how to shoot? Quick shooting demonstration, oh he’s so close to me, oh yeah, I have feelings for him – oh yeah, forgot about the treasure hunt clue I was going to tell you about.’ That’s not me being hyperbolic, it’s a synopsis of an actual scene in the book.

The characters are interesting, but there’s little growth or development. Most of them are as they appear, yet Phoebe always seems so surprised when someone she didn’t trust does something untrustworthy. Besides this, I couldn’t get behind the romance – while it wasn’t instalove, it went from zero to a hundred very quickly.

Within These Gilded Halls didn’t entirely transport me to the regency era, and the narrative was a little messy, leading to an overall average read.

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