The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies (THE ILL-MANNERED LADIES #1) (Paperback)
A Washington Post Best Mystery Novel of 2023
A high society amateur detective at the heart of Regency London uses her wits and invisibility as an ‘old maid’ to protect other women in a new and fiercely feminist historical mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Alison Goodman.
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 and injures 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. 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.
Back in London, Gus can’t stop thinking about her unlikely (not to mention handsome) comrade-in-arms. She is convinced Lord Evan was falsely accused of murder, and she is going to prove it. She persuades Julia to join her in a quest to help Lord Evan, and others in need—society be damned! And so begins the beguiling secret life and adventures of the Colebrook twins.
About the Author
Alison Goodman is the New York Times bestselling author of Eon and Eona and The Dark Days Club series.
"If you love Georgette Heyer, you'll love The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies. Smart and sassy and featuring heroines of a certain age, this is the Regency I've been waiting for. Adventure! Mystery! A touch of romance! This delightful novel has it all!"
—Jenn McKinlay, New York Times bestselling author of The Plot and the Pendulum
“[T]his first book in a new series... will have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.”
—The Washington Post
"[T]he book’s story elements … are rooted in historical fact and recounted with convincing realism—and wit. Ms. Goodman’s ill-mannered ladies are delightful company."
—The Wall Street Journal
“A refreshing new arrival on the historical mystery scene! A wise, kind, and sharp-tongued sleuth solves crime in a well-portrayed Regency England. A must-read for lovers of the Regency and historical mysteries alike.”
—Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author The Secret of Bow Lane
“A vibrant tale of two plucky women of a certain age who craved more from life than merely attending tea parties and balls, The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies is a truly delightful romp through the Regency period. Alison Goodman has crafted a feminist adventure story that will have you cheering on the unconventional Colebrook sisters in all their exploits.”
—Stephanie Marie Thornton, USA Today bestselling author of Her Lost Words
"For fans of historical fiction, romance, and ladies tired of being restricted by society!"
“Fans of Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels will savor this mystery …. Well-developed characters, a touch of romance, and cases involving social issues of the period enhance the experience.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
"[A] rollicking feminist romp - think Jane Austen meets James Bond - that breaks the shcakles of period genre fiction and liberates women from the forces arrayed against them."
—Sydney Morning Herald
“If you love historical fiction, thrilling adventures, women who don’t follow society’s rules and witty romance, you need to read The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies. Add it to your TBR ASAP!”
"Fresh and fearless, Alison Goodman's exquisitely written, impeccably-researched genre-blending novel shines a light in the darkest corners of Regency England. The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies is part heart-racing adventure, part gothic mystery, part tantalizing romance, and wholly wonderful. I can't wait for the next installment!"
—Joanna Lowell, author of Artfully Yours
“Well-plotted with emotionally rich characters. This novel should delight those readers that enjoy Regency mysteries with a bit of romance that have strong female characters.”
—Mystery and Suspense Magazine
“The book is well-paced, excellently researched (with several fun historical characters like Fanny Burney), funny, romantic, and action-packed.”
—Historical Novel Society
“A rollicking and joyous adventure, with a beautiful love story at its heart, about two rebellious sisters forging their own path in Regency London.”
—Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
“Fierce, funny, and often dark, this is an eye-opening portrait of a colorful yet misogynistic period in English history. Readers will be eager to return for the duo’s next adventure.”
"All three adventures are marked by successively mounting complications that fans of either the Regency period or take-no-prisoners feminism will cheer. Think of the Bridgerton novels with the steamy sex replaced by female-forward action sequences."
“This feel-good romp comes with a little bit of everything—endearing heroines, adventure, romance, mystery, and the promise of more stories to come.”
“With well-written characters, a fun story, and supporting characters, it’s one of the best books of the summer.”
—Red Carpet Crash
"A Regency romp, like a 21st-century Georgette Heyer, with gay characters, people of colour and a feisty and independent heroine in her 40s. Hurrah! I’m so impressed with the author for being able to modernise themes and details while simultaneously conjuring what we collectively understand as the atmosphere of the era. It’s just wonderful, and has the most original and dashing male romantic lead – who I hope will soon be portrayed on screen because this book deserves to be the new Bridgerton. I predict that Lord Evan will be the new Duke of Hastings, and I’m entertaining myself wondering who should play him."
"A joyous romp through Regency England that is equally entertaining, revealing, feminist, heartbreaking and humorous … [A]n unexpected delight that blends historical romance with adventure, crime-solving and a bold feminist undertone. This book would be loved by anyone looking for a historical adventure that breaks the bounds of convention to feature women 'past their prime' taking matters into their own hands."
"Goodman's ladies are the undercover Regency heroes we've been waiting for! This is sparkling, thrilling, romantic fun."
—Toni Jordan, author of Dinner With the Schnabels
"Witty and poignant, this is a clever twist on historical romance and mystery. The Colebrook twins are the Regency’s answer to Holmes and Watson!"
—Belinda Alexandra, author of The French Agent
"Heroines can appear out of nowhere and soon become indispensable, and such is the case with Lady Augusta Colebrook, who, with her twin sister Lady Julia, is at the heart of this compelling, enthralling, unforgettable novel. You will be very glad you've let Gus into your life then wonder how you ever did without her."
—Sophie Green, author of The Bellbird River Country Choir
Praise for the novels of Alison Goodman
“Eon is wonderful, with its whirlwind of gender exploration, imperial ambition, dragon lore and dissection of nature versus nurture.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Lucky for us, this fantastic introduction leaves us hungry for more.”
“It's rare—but thrilling—to find a book that takes both generic conventions and historical accuracy seriously, as Alison Goodman's delightful fantasy novel The Dark Days Club does.”
“Includes plenty of exciting sword fights and plot reversals, and the dragons themselves, which only mystics of Eon’s ability can see, are beautifully described.”
—New York Times
“Captivates with a mix of history and fantasy. [An] immersive, action-packed narrative.”
“In a delicious collision of Regency romance and dark fantasy, Goodman tells the story of Lady Helen, a well-drawn heroine, and her struggle to free herself from the stilted life of an early-19th-century noblewoman and embrace her wilder, darker self is powerfully delineated.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Goodman catapults the reader headfirst into a world so richly imagined that it feels real. Eona’s pivotal acceptance of her femininity, so ruthlessly repressed by both herself and her culture, gives this intricate fantasy particular weight.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)
“It’s London 1812 like you’ve never seen it: with demonic creatures and theirslayers. Lady Helen Wrexhall has to fight between two sides of herself as a proper lady and a kickbutt slayer. Feminists swoon!”
“Set in a vividly imagined (and thoroughly researched) Regency London, this is a nail-bitingly exciting story of espionage and gallantry, with a horribly well-imagined demonic element to the narrative.”
“Fast-paced, rich in description, with fascinating characters and excitement. With mass crossover appeal, this genre-pushing tale will be enjoyed by those who don’t usually read historical romances or supernatural works.”
—School Library Journal (Starred Review)
“If you love Jane Austen’s novels—or modern imitators of the Regency genre—but just wish they had more demons and adventure, then you need to get your hands on a copy. Right now.”
—The New York Daily News
“Alison Goodman gifts us with Lady Helen as a hero for all of the women around her, and as she battles on against the darkness invading her mind, the machinations of enemies outside and within her circle, and against society itself, readers will cheer her every move. Reader, you really are going to love this one. (A LOT!)”
“Alison Goodman's spectacular young adult novel set in the 19th-century court of England's King George III will delight fantasy readers and fans of Regency romance alike.”