NOTE: Gabaldon and historical mystery fans take note; this is a wonderful series and a good one to hold you over between "Outlander" books. I read all three books, one right after the last, in three days.
THE BIRTH OF BLUE SATAN (Hist. Mys- Gideon Fitzsimmons/Hester Kean-England-1715) - VG+
Wynn, Patricia - 1st in series
Pemberley, 2001, US Hardcover - ISBN: 0970272707
First Sentence: The tall, young gentleman with long, fair hair and aquiline features lounged impatiently before the looking-glass.
It is the early 1700s, a time of political and religious tension, when Protestant German George sits on the throne supported by the Whigs who have convinced him the Tories support Catholic James Stewart, exiled in France. Gideon Fitzsimmons Viscount St. Mars argues with his father, Lord Hawkhurst, over Isabella, woman he desires to marry and leaves his father's house in a temper.
Upon preparing to ride to a ball a lone horseman attacks him, severely cutting his arm. Gideon proceeds to the ball, where he meets Isabella's cousin, who is kind and bright and clearly being treated as a poor relation by Isabella and her mother.
Two men appear and advise Gideon his father has been murdered and the culprit had been wounded. When they discover Gideon's wound, he becomes the suspect and must run to avoid being put in prison. He must also determine wither the motive was personal or political and undercover his father's murderer.
Wynn's attention to historic detail of the time, place and social structure, is staggering and adds richness and veracity to the story.
But it's the characters and story I really loved. It was one of those books I picked to read just a couple pages, and ended up reading it straight through to the end. The characters are wonderful. Gideon accustomed to a life of privilege now on the run.
Hester Keane is the smart, strong, proper daughter of an impoverish minister determined to help Gideon clear his name. The secondary characters are just as strong. Mrs. Mayfield, out to ensure a profitable marriage for her daughter at all cost; Isabella, the beautiful and vacuous daughter, Gideon's groom Tom; the loyal lifelong servant determined to keep himself `clean' after seeing his father die from pox; Philippe, Gideon's perfect French valet, and many others who are all so well drawn as to be real.
The story is so well plotted with each suspect being identified and investigated. I had one small complaint when Hester did something toward the end that was both incredibly stupid and, I thought, out of character for her. I know it was necessary to the story and series, but felt it should have been handled better by the author.
Otherwise, Ms. Wynn has a wonderful voice. She is able to bring the period and the people to life with suspense, an element of romance and a dash of humor. I liked the book so much, I've immediately started the next in the series.