The Lord of Stariel

(Stariel #1)

by A.J. Lancaster

We join Henrietta Valstar on her journey home to the Stariel estate as she is called home by the death of her father, Lord Valstar. There is going to be a Choosing, when all the adult members of the Valstar family line up to put their hands on a stone that then lights up for a new lord, permanently cementing that person with the Stariel land by a magical sense/bond.

Things don’t quite go as planned– the erstwhile heirs, Henrietta’s male cousin and brother have secrets of their own, not to mention Henrietta’s childhood confidante, now butler, grew up into an intriguing man.

This is not deep adventure-fantasy, more like a Regency cozy house party murder mystery with romance, only without the murder and some fae related magic instead. Henrietta is satisfyingly both confident and practical and accepting of her own desires, the mystery is fun, although not complex at all really, and the story, firmly rooted in family, simple and clean.

I wished for more development of the side characters as really only Henrietta is completely drawn, and time passes with no developments and butlers conveniently missing or too busy to be bothered instead of engaged in interesting flirtations or investigations…that’s where the story loses a star as I am not as happy reading about Henrietta wanting to talk to Wyn but unable as I am happy to read Henrietta actually talking to Wyn.

Still, this is an entertaining, escapist read that doesn’t require too much heart-space or attention to enjoy. I will definitely follow along to the second book in the series as things with Henrietta just got into an interestingly placed situation vis-a-vis her relationships both with males and the land.