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review 2016-10-11 09:00
A Blast from the Past...
A Terrible Beauty: A Lady Emily Mystery (Lady Emily Mysteries) - Tasha Alexander

This series featuring Lady Emily is another one of my favorite mystery series. If you follow the series too, then you know Lady Emily was married and widowed before she remarried Colin Hargreaves. Well in this installment, Lady Emily, Colin, Jeremy & Margaret go on a holiday to help Jeremy recover from his last relationship disaster. When they arrive at Lady Emily's home in Santorini, Greece, Colin & Lady Emily get a very shocking 'blast from the past' and their plans for a peaceful retreat are thwarted. I can't say much else without giving the entire story away so you'll just have to read it..


After reading this series I always want to hop on a plane. The Greek island setting makes the perfect backdrop for the story. They also visit different ruins, a volcano, an archaeological dig and other historical landmarks so it somewhat satiates my need to travel. I love Margaret and Jeremy too so I was glad they were along for the ride. They always add a nice dose of humor to the story line.


There was plenty of murder, mayhem & mystery to keep me entertained & I'm already looking forward to more adventures with Lady Emily. 


*I received this ARC from NetGalley & St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!



Professional Reader Reviews Published 2016 NetGalley Challenge

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text 2014-10-02 14:34
Read in September
Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space - Guy Adams,Glen Mehn,Kasey Lansdale
Murder Tightly Knit (An Amish Village Mystery) - Vannetta Chapman
Das Halsband der Königin. - Alexandre Dumas
And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander
Black Ship - Carola Dunn
I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong: And Other Wise and Witty Comments from Guardian Readers - Marc Burrows,Tom Gauld

Again I feel like I did read more than those books but again it's only six (one of which was a DNF) but at least this month I can explain it with The Queen's Necklace being quite a doorstopper (and all those fanfics I read...)

Overall not a bad month, as said one was a DNF but I quite enjoyed the rest.

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review 2014-09-26 16:10
Review: And Only To Deceive
And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander

With Lady Emily we get a heroine who isn’t just somebody with present-day opinions that got transported back in the Victorian era. In fact her views were pretty much time-apropriate for most of her life. They are only beginning to change at the start of the book after she enjoyed some freedom after the unexpected death of her husband. But despite that she doesn’t suddenly throw all society-conventions over board. Emily experiments to see how far she is comfortable going (and on at least one occasion regrets doing something). Emily is a believable character and even though I did not all her decisions I could still understand why she acted that way.

The other characters are lovely as well and I am looking forward to seeing most of them again in the following volumes. The only exception is Emily’s mother who often verges too much into the ‘overbearing mother who tries to control every aspect of her child’s life’-sterotype. (Why is that so popular in cozies?). Of course to an extend that is necessary for Emily’s story-arc to work but it soon got too much. I would have preferred it if she hadn’t visited Emily quite as often as she did because every visit is the same. Her mother is angry about something Emily did, Emily tries to find a more or less polite way to say that she doesn’t care, mother gets angrier, nothing is resolved.

The mystery itself is admittedly not that mysterious. Unless this is your very first crime-novel you will be able to guess a good deal of the solution. But I did not care too much about this as I was so fond of the characters and the setting.

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review 2014-09-12 08:23
And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily Mystery, #1)
And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander

"A Novel of Suspense."


No, not really.  Whomever read this book and thought it suspenseful needs to get out more.


It was a very good read though - I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's the age-old tale of "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" with Greek antiquities, art forgery, romance and mystery thrown into the mix.


Emily makes a very good marriage to Viscount Ashton for the sole purpose of getting away from her harpy of a mother: a decision I whole-heartendly endorsed after only one scene involving that nasty shrew.  Mere months after the marriage, her husband dies of a fever while on an African safari, leaving her a very wealthy widow.  When her late husband's best friend, Colin, pays her a visit, telling her he promised Lord Ashton that Emily would see their villa in Santorini, Greece - a property she owned but didn't even know about - she decides she ought to learn more about this man she married but knew nothing about.


Thus begins Emily's adventures.  As she learns more about her husband Philip, she learns she had a very good man in her life for far to short a time - or maybe he wasn't such a good man?  This is what comes from a lack of communication in a marriage:  Emily is left with contradicting information and evidence - he was either very noble or a massive scoundrel  She must sort it all out since she has fallen obsessively in love with her husband post mortem.  I found this just a touch nauseating - almost to eye-rolling stage.  I understand the regret she'd feel, but not love after the fact.


Along the way, she discovers another passion; this one for knowledge, specifically, ancient Greece.  She dives into her education, much to the consternation and disgust of her mother - which really, is a total perk for both Emily and the reader.


I loved the characterisations - each person is boldly sketched out on the page, clear enough to almost be seen.  The Parisian settings are vivd, even though few words are used.


The plot was well done, although again - NOT suspenseful.  This isn't the sort of plot the reader figures out before Lady Emily does.  The villain is revealed slowly over the course of the story.  There's no grand denouement, although there is a critical unveiling, which I thought was handled particularly well (no TSTL moments).


There are 8 more books in this series so far - YAY!  I'm off to order the next few; I definitely enjoyed the story enough to want to know what happens next.


NB:  I particularly enjoyed that the author thought to include a few brief sections at the end: The Story behind The Story, Fact vs. Fiction, Location, Location, Location and a Suggested Reading.  As a complete novice with all things historical, I appreciated knowing what was authentic to the time, and what she took authorial license with.  It's a nice touch.

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review 2014-09-06 23:34
Emily and Greek antiquities
And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander

This novel is subtitled “A Novel of Suspense,” but IMO it’s a misrepresentation. Suspense comprises a very small percentage of this story. Mostly, it’s a quaint historical novel, taking place in the end of the Victorian era.

The protagonist Emily is a rich young widow. She had only been married for a few months before her husband died on a hunt in Africa. She never loved him, never even really knew him. She married him to escape her overbearing mother. A year after his funeral and almost out of mourning, she finally starts to learn about her late husband. From his friends and his journals, she paints herself a portrait of a wonderful man who was very much in love with her. And the more she learns about him, the more she falls in love with him… retroactively.

A couple other themes run through the story. Emily chafes under the restrictions confining the women of the British society to a certain place in life. She wants more. She wants to expand her cultural and educational horizons, and her contemplations and arguments about women and their roles in life take up a lot of page-space. Maybe a bit too much.

Another theme suffusing the book is Greek antiquities and the Brits’ fascination with it. Emily’s late husband collected antiques, and so do many of his friends. To feel closer to her departed husband, Emily herself begins studying ancient Greek. She reads Homer and attends lectures at the British Museum.

The suspense subplot is intertwined with the antiquities theme – there is a criminal ring that steals the authentic pieces from private collectors and museums and substitutes them with forgeries. Emily’s husband had had some dealings with that ring, and she tries to figure out to what degree he was involved. Was he a forger? A thief? What should she do?

And then there is the falling-in-love subplot. A couple men vie for Emily’s attention, and she is wavering between her living beaus, her late spouse, and her antiquities studies. Does she even want to get married again? She rather likes the freedom her widowhood holds for her. She shuttles between London and Paris, investigating her dead-husband mystery and enjoying life.

I read her story and enjoyed it with her. The action was a bit slow and retrospective, and all the characters felt slightly remote, but there is a certain charm in this approach. After all, the Brits indoctrinated emotional restraint and shied away from open self-expression, and the book dunked me into such a quiet, dignified atmosphere.

My pleasure in Emily’s story was only marred by my knowledge that less than two decades later, that atmosphere will be shattered by the WWI. The roles of women and men, of classes and societies will change irrevocably in Emily’s lifetime. Were all her struggles and doubts for naught?

That faint anxiety seemed to be running through the book too, although it might be my personal projection.


Note: strangely, I couldn't find this book in the database. I had to import the cover picture from GR. I'm sure it should on BL somewhere, it's not a new book. It was published in 2005, but where is it?


Note #2: Thanks to Murder by Death, I found the title in the database, although it's a different edition from the one I read.

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