Author: Tasha Alexander
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
In this story set in Victorian England, Emily agrees to marry Philip, Viscount Ashton primarily to escape her overbearing mother. Philip dies soon after while on a safari in Africa leaving Emily a rich widow. Unable to grieve a husband who was virtually a stranger, Emily instead embarks on a course of study and intellectual pursuits free of all restraints.
A discovery of her late husband’s journals combined with first-hand information of his philanthropic gestures, makes Emily realize that Philip wasn’t just a big-game hunter but also a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who had apparently loved her deeply.
With realization comes remorse and before long Emily finds herself falling in love with a dead man. Her desire to know more about him takes her, surprisingly, into the world of art forgery and a deepening mystery as to Philip’s true nature. What lies in fate for Emily at the end of this dangerous quest, hope or disillusionment, tragedy or love, is the true suspense.
Having started reading the Emily Ashton Historical mystery series third book (A Fatal Waltz) first, I knew how certain things were going to turn out. This took away some of the mystery of this story for me, so my recommendation is to read this series in order. What I enjoyed most besides reading about Greek and Roman antiquities and descriptions of a bygone era, was seeing the character of Emily develop from a disinterested and put-upon society girl into a woman of flair, independence, courage and vision. The mystery is also well-developed with complicated plot lines and red herrings galore, well-maintained until the grand finale.
Many interesting side characters and story lines are introduced and the author continues to deepen and develop them further in subsequent stories, as I know from reading A Fatal Waltz. One other thing mentionable is the way in which the author weaves actual events and famous personalities into the storylines, making it all appear so easy and natural. In this book, it's Renoir and to some extent, Monet who put in guest appearances.
This is an interesting and intriguing historical suspense, with a dash of romance and lots of characterizations and atmosphere...................................................................................................................
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