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Book Review: A Promise Given: A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel

A Promise Given: A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel. Michelle Cox. She Writes Press, April 24, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-book, 378 pages.

Reviewed by Janet Cole.

A Promise Given’s introduction was difficult because of the prolific use of adverbs and allusions to events of which I had no prior knowledge. However, persevering through those initial pages produced rich rewards as I became immersed in the development of the main characters and the evolution of relationships.

Henrietta, our heroine, rises above the poverty of her family and her sketchy previous employment when Clive, a renowned inspector, falls in love with her and proposes. Their age difference is just a minor inconvenience, and her charm and beauty are more than enough to encourage his aristocratic family to look beyond her humble origins. Matters become complicated when Henrietta’s long-estranged grandfather intervenes in wedding plans and living arrangements to restore this branch of the family to a certain level of respectability. The wedding itself is not without its own set of complications when Henrietta’s younger sister and her “young man” each meet individuals that change the course of their relationship.

The story progresses to the honeymoon “across the pond” and a stay at the ancestral English home, now a crumbling pseudo-castle that houses Henrietta’s husband’s uncle, aunt, and morose cousin. A murder that takes place in the nearby village casts suspicion on a variety of characters, including the inhabitants of the country manor. Clive joins the local inspector in the investigation. The tragedy, coupled with the cousin’s mysterious but regular disappearances and Clive’s involvement in solving the crime, create conflict at first, and then bonding. A mutual understanding evolves between Henrietta and her new husband, who concedes that she has the potential to be every bit an equal partner in his investigations.

The setting and certain details of the crime evoked memories of other stories set in similar circumstances. But the author once again made the story her own with the unfolding explanation of Clive’s cousin’s frequent disappearances and his resistance to the wiles and flirtations of the numerous young ladies invited to the once resplendent now crumbling castle.

A Promise Given is a well-told story which, despite the few difficulties I mentioned, had me immersed and wanting more. Well done!


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