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review 2016-12-12 20:09
A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander
A Terrible Beauty - Tasha Alexander

In this thrilling new novel in the New York Times bestselling series, Lady Emily travels to Greece where a ghost from her past returns to haunt her amid the ruins.

Lady Emily retreats to her villa on the island of Santorini for a brief respite from London. But when she arrives, the housekeeper informs her that the master of the house has returned—Emily’s first husband who died a decade earlier...

 
**********
 

First I want to say how refreshing it is with a blurb that doesn't give away half the book or some key events. Instead, it just intrigues ones mind with the question: what if Philip didn't die all those years ago? What happened to him, and why would he reveal himself to Emily now?

I have to confess that I struggled with the first book in this series when I read it a little while ago. I wanted to read the first book before I read this book and since I had it on my bookshelf for over one year did I find it was perhaps time for it now. My problem with the first book was that I didn't find the characters nor the story engrossing and I hoped this one would appeal to me a bit more. And, yes in a way it did, but in a way, I still struggled with the characters. Lady Emily isn't really a bad character, she just does not interest me so much. I have nothing against her, she just feels a bit lackluster as an individual. But, I don't mind reading about her. However, I found Colin boring as hell. Sorry, he's just not a person that I like especially much, not in this book nor in the first book. I was actually quite dejected when I read the first book and realized that Emily and Colin were getting cozy. And, now, here in book eleven are married with children. *sigh* Sorry, sometimes some characters just doesn't appeal to me for some reason...

However, I was interested in finding out how it all would turn out. Was this really Philip back from the dead? And, I have to admit, I did like Philip more than Colin (probably the only reader who does). But, then I did like Philip quite a lot in the first book, despite him being "dead".

The mystery of Philip and if he is really Philip, and where he had been was the highlight of the book and the one thing that really made this book interesting to read. I was curious to see how it all would end, and I did not expect that ending. Perhaps it was a bit over the top. But, still, it was surprising...

 
I want to thank St. Martin's Press for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley! 
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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 2016-10-05 06:35
Exciting October Releases
The Rancher Returns - Brenda Jackson
A Terrible Beauty - Tasha Alexander
Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood
Diamonds and Pearl - K'wan
Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation - Anne Sebba
The Other Einstein: A Novel - Marie Benedict

This month I'm excited about black romance, historical romance, urban fiction and always anything to do with Paris. However, Les Parisiennes is the story of the women who lived during the Nazi occupation. Not a light read, but one I'm sure to find informative. Hag-Seed is the retelling of William Shakespeare's The Tempest. I don't believe I've read that play so, this will be intriguing. The Other Einstein tells the story of Einstein's wife Mitza who was a physicist.

 

 

 

October 4

 

The Rancher Returns by Brenda Jackson

 

October 11

 

A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander

 

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood 

 

Diamonds and Pearl by K'wan

 

October 18

 

Les Parisiennes by Anne Seba

 

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

 

 

 

Have you heard, read or are excited for any of these October Releases?

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review 2016-08-11 18:44
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
And Only to Deceive - Tasha Alexander

Emily agreed to wed Philip, the Viscount Ashton, primarily to escape her overbearing mother. Philip's death while on safari soon after their wedding left Emily feeling little grief, for she barely knew the dashing stranger.

But her discovery of his journals nearly two years later reveals a far different man than she imagined-a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who apparently loved his new wife deeply. Emily's desire to learn more about her late husband leads her through the quiet corners of the British Museum and into a dangerous mystery involving rare stolen artifacts. To complicate matters, she's juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond matrimony into darker realms.

 

**********

 

Sometimes, a book just doesn't work for me no matter how much I want to enjoy it. And Only to Deceive have everything that I should like, interesting characters, a mystery and a tragic love story. However, somewhere along the way the story just lost my interest and unfortunately I never found it as interesting as it was, in the beginning, to read.
 
So, what went wrong? Why did this book not appeal to me? I think the biggest problem for me was that the plot, Emily's hunt for the truth about Philips involvement in the forgery of art, or rather the whole forgery plot was so simple to figure out that it took away the enjoyment to read the book. Since this book is bit old now and several new books have been published was it easy to cross one person of the list as suspects and that made the list of people that could be involved pretty small. And, a book that started off interesting just lost its spark along the way.
 
I did find Emily's newfound love for Philip tragic and sweet, but alas even that went a bit boring after a while. She discovered new things about him and she realized that the man she married was a different man than she had imagined and suddenly she fell in love with him. With the problem that he is dead. Like the forgery part that also lost its spark after a while.
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review 2016-08-03 10:01
Review: Tears of Pearl
Tears of Pearl - Tasha Alexander

Even before Emily steps off the Orient Express in beautiful and decadent Constantinople, she's embroiled in intrigue and treachery. The brutal death of a concubine in the sultan's palace allows her first foray into investigating a crime as an official agent of the British Empire--because only a woman can be given access to the forbidden world of the harem. There, she quickly discovers that its mysterious, sheltered walls offer no protection from a ruthless murderer.

 

"I don't think I could survive if anything happened to her. She's been beside me my whole life."
"You would. I'd make you."
"I'm not sure I'd thank you for it."
"You forget how persuasive I can be."

In which Emily is worried about her best friend dying and Colin is slightly creepy. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure he means well...but couldn't he have said how he'd help her through it instead of 'I will make you survive'? Also, two lines later they are talking about their sex-life again in that cutesy Victorian wink-wink-nudge-nudge way that did have me grin the first two or three times they did it but once every private conversation they head led to the same I wanted to yell 'Can you screw each other without constantly talking about it?'.

The mystery was just ridiculous. It involved so many coincidences that I just couldn't stretch my suspension of disbelief that far. And yes, cozy mysteries are books in which the main characters just keep stumbling over dead bodies or met people who just have but even for that genre the coincidences were over-the-top. 

 

I did like that death in childbirth was a topic since I can't remember many novels that are set in an era where that is an issue that talk about it. (No matter if they were written in that era or in the present day). But the way it was discussed left me mostly unmoved. Emily's fear of it was told rather than shown. Its only result were some long internal monologues and her not telling Colin about the fact that she thinks she might be pregnant. (And even that can just as easily be attributed to the fact that she fears Colin would stop her from doing more dangerous things once he knows). 

Ivy's storyline again did nothing for me. This book makes it painfully obvious that Ivy is just the foil to Emily. Ivy is the 'good Victorian woman' in the eyes of her contemporaries, while Emily is the one with too many strange ideas for her pretty little head. Ivy will always do what she is told and she'd never dream of demanding answers. Even if the answers concern her and even if she's scared. Ivy is there to tell the reader who 

Ivy is there to tell the reader how Victorian women were expected to behave and how much the good old days sucked. Ivy is there so that Emily can worry about her. Ivy is not in any way a character in her own right with interests, hopes or anything. She's a symbol, somebody Emily can angst over and occasionally a plot device.

 

Talking about characters that aren't really characters: Every single woman from the harem. They were there so that Emily could have discussions with them about whether women in the West are better or worse of than their counterparts in the ottoman empire. 

And while I think that that it's not intentional, it has some unfortunate implications that the only woman who is unhappy in the harem is the one who is secretly Christian. Because only if your religion tells you it's wrong, you'd be unhappy in such a place. Now that brings me to my biggest gripe with the book.

Spoiler alert. It's not directly about the mystery part but it is intertwined with it and it concerns events at the very end of the book so read at your own risk.

 

Roxelana, the unhappy Christian in the harem wants to flee. Because she hates her life in the harem and because she has a lover outside. And she wants Emily's help. After some reluctance Emily agrees. The escape fails and Roxelana has to return to the harem but - for contrived and absolutely nonsensical reason - she won't be punished further. Her lover (who is an idiot and screwed up badly in the course of the book) considers that a fitting punishment for his screw ups. Yes, you read that right. He will now suffer the punishment of not being able to screw the hot chick.

 

 

Meanwhile, the girl (full disclosure: she was also was stupid and screwed up...she was also terrified) is going to remain a sex-slave. Which she will hate because her religion tells her it leads to eternal damnation. (So does suicide so that wouldn't be a way out either). And she will be so popular with the other women after her attempt to flee, I'm sure.

But it's important that the guy has accepted that he has to put his dick somewhere else and this is going to be a bit bad for him.

 

(spoiler show)
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