London’s social season is in full swing, and the Victorian aristocracy can’t stop whispering about a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. But he’s not the only topic of wagging tongues. Drawing rooms, boudoirs, and ballrooms are abuzz with the latest news of an audacious cat burglar who has been making off with precious items that once belonged to the ill-fated queen.
Light gossip turns serious when the owner of one of the pilfered treasures is found murdered, and the mysterious thief develops a twisted obsession with Emily. But the strong-minded and fiercely independent Emily will not be shaken. It will take all of her considerable wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, even as a brewing scandal threatens both her reputation and her romance with her late husband’s best friend, the dashing Colin Hargreaves.
Those who enjoyed Tasha Alexander previous installment – And Only to Deceive – will certainly like this one as well. I must say that Lady Emily Ashton’s series is getting better and better. I can hardly wait to get my hands in Fatal Waltz.
Emily is an intelligent woman. She loves Greek culture, is interested in antiquities and she spends most of her time learning the most she can about both subjects. If And Only To Deceive is mostly focused on her failed relationship with her deceased husband and the mystery surrounding his death, in The Poisoned Season, she moves on, becomes more independent, more sure of herself. Lady Ashton has a brain and has no problems showing it, even if some society members (including her mother) are scandalized by her reading in a public place (this scene was hilarious!).
This time the mystery concerns a descendent of Marie Antoinette, Charles Berry, or so he claims. After his arrival to London, some of his ancestors personal objects are stolen from their owners. Meanwhile David Francis, a ton member, is poisoned and someone steals from his house something belonging to the tragic French queen. The mysterious thief is also sending some strange notes in Greek to Emily…
While I enjoyed the mystery part immensely, sometimes I had to suspend my disbelief about the thief’s antics. It really seemed a bit too much but nothing that makes you less curious about his identity.
Colin Hargraves is also making a patient court to Emily. He doesn’t want to scare her or rush her into anything she would later regret. Her previous disastrous marriage is something she doesn’t want to repeat and it’s obvious Colin understands Emily’s need to make a life of her own and decide when and if she wants to marry again.
Tasha Alexander not only easily creates a Victorian feeling but the historical detail is rich and delightful, even if sometimes too slow paced for my taste. Highly recommended for those who wish for a gripping and well written story.