A Golden Cage (Newport Gilded Age #2) Shelley Freydont
Rating: Very Good
Description: The author of A Gilded Grave returns to Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, where headstrong heiress Deanna Randolph must solve another murder among the social elite. With her mother in Europe, Deanna is staying with the Ballard family, who agree to chaperone her through the summer season and guide her toward an advantageous marriage proposal - or so her mother hopes. Relishing her new freedom, Deanna is more interested in buying one of the fashionable new bathing costumes, joining a ladies' bicycling club and befriending an actress named Amabelle Deeks, all of which would scandalize her mother. Far more scandalous is the discovery of a young man bludgeoned to death on the conservatory floor at Bonheur, the Ballards' sumptuous "cottage". Deanna recognizes him as an actor who performed at the birthday fete for a prominent judge the night before. But why was he at Bonheur? And where is Amabelle? Concerned her new friend may be in danger - or worse - Deanna enlists the help of her intrepid maid, Elspeth, and her former beau, Joe Ballard, to find Amabelle before the villain of this drama demands an encore. (From Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: I enjoyed the previous book in the series and I really love this time period and location.
My Impression: I really enjoyed the previous book in the series so going in my expectations were fairly high. I really like Deanna and it was fun to see how she's doing away from her controlling mother and among the more relaxed and progressive Ballard women. I also felt like we saw a lot more of Joe and Will in this book and got more of a peek into their private lives and thoughts.
Joe and Deanna's relationship is still developing and I found it interesting how they danced around each other with Deanna feeling jealous occasionally even though she constantly reminds herself that she shouldn't. I found Joe's worries about Deanna's action sweet. He was of course worried about her safety but also her reputation and voices more than once his concern that when Deanna cares about society or tries to take her place there that too much damage will be done and she won't be able too. He's not overbearing but he's clearly thinking ahead in a way that Deanna isn't.
The time period in this book is not simply window dressing. So much of the characters' actions are influenced by societal pressures or beliefs. I also loved Deanna's maid, Elspeth. Not only is their relationship wonderful and hilarious but she provides a window into the below stairs world that Deanna really can't visit.
The mystery itself was well done and solid. I didn't know what had happened or why or who was to blame for quite some time and it definitely kept me reading. I did feel like it moved a little slower than the first book - at least for the first half - and it took me awhile to get fully invested in the story. However, even before I really connected I was still entertained and intrigued.
This is an entertaining mystery that makes full use of its gorgeous and complicated setting. The characters are likable and complex and incredibly readable. If you enjoy historical mysteries you can't go wrong with this book or A Gilded Grave.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I've really enjoyed both the books in this series as well as books in her Celebration Bay series.
Would I Recommend this Book?: I would though I think I would recommend reading the first book before this one. While the mystery is stand alone the relationships between some of the main characters are complicated and it might make more sense in order.