London's social season is in full swing, and 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 systematically stealing valuable 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 Lady Emily Ashton. It will take all of Emily's wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, while faced with a brewing scandal that threatens both her reputation and her romance with her late husband's best friend, the dashing Colin Hargreaves.
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I want the usual reader back! Justine Eyre is just not nearly as good as the reader for the other Lady Emily stories! Eyre has this forced, breathy quality to her voice, like someone pretending to be sexy. It is really distracting and rather nearly ruined the story for me. I love the Lady Emily stories so this was really a disappointing change.
Setting: England, Victorian era Genre: Mystery This is the second in the Lady Emily series of mysteries. I haven't read the first yet, though I read (listened to) Star of the East, a novella set later in the series, as my first exposure to Tasha Alexander. Forgive me if my lack of taking this series in order negatively affects this review. Lady Emily is in London for the season, which is, as usual, abuzz with gossip and the happenings of the nobility and upper class. Lady Emily is facing a few challenges. Her childhood friend, Ivy, is having marital difficulties; her American friend, Margaret, is having a disagreement with her parents about Oxford; her family friend, Isabelle, is having issues with suitors; and Colin Hargreaves is still asking Emily to marry him. Added to all this, a series of thefts of items with a French connection in common begin among Emily's acquaintances. And then there are two murders that may or may not have been committed by the thief. Lady Emily knows these things are related, she's just not sure how, and the life of the maid accused of the murders is on the line. It is up to her, with the clues provided, to solve the mysteries. I liked Emily and the supporting cast of characters. I almost put this on my romance shelf, as well as mystery, because of the low-key relationship development between Emily and Colin, but that is definitely in the background. The star of this show is most certainly Lady Emily and the mysteries presented. The story had me changing my mind about whodunit more than once, and it wasn't until the end that all was revealed. This reminded me of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mysteries, as they are also first person narratives set in the Victorian era. There were, however, enough differences in characters and style to keep me from going there after my initial observation. I did enjoy the writing. It was so refreshing not to have to edit grammar in my head as I went along, so I was able to stay in the story. I assume the bulk of Lady Emily's character was developed in the first book in the series, but not having experienced it didn't detract from this story. In fact, unless you just have to have things in order because that's how you roll, this book could stand alone. Yes, there were some things, like some of Emily's relationships, it would have been nice to see before this book, but only because the interaction would seem more organic. But I could guess at these comfortably. I have this in both ebook and audio mediums, which provided some amusement for me. There was a character whose name the narrator pronounced "lettuce". I thought, really? someone would give her daughter that odd a name? Then, when I went to the ebook for a bit, I saw a character named Lettice. Ohhh. THAT'S Lettuce! I would have put the accent on the second syllable... Normally, I love Justine Eyre's narration, but Lettuce? :-)