Friday, January 29, 2010

Lydia recommends: Tasha Alexander's Victorian suspense series

Tasha Alexander has combined all the necessary ingredients for a first rate romantic suspense series: jewel thieves, poison, Turkish harems and a plucky independent Victorian heroine to unravel the mysteries surrounding them.  With a glamorous range of locals, fascinating crimes to solve, and a romance which grows deliciously rich and deep as the series progresses, these are novels for a stolen afternoon of luxury; a day to lounge in your pajamas with the cell phone turned off, curtains drawn and a box of chocolates by your side.

Start at the beginning with And Only to Deceive, in which our heroine, Lady Emily Ashton, searches for the truth about her husband’s death and the mystery surrounding stolen antiquities at the British Museum.  Her investigation leads Emily through London’s Rotten Row, to Renoir’s cozy Parisian artist studio, and finally to the glittering beaches of Santorini where she discovers which of her handsome suitors has the possibility of becoming more than a mere flirtation.

Proceed to A Poisoned Season, in which, as a woman ahead of her time, Emily performs a balancing act between breaking old codes of conduct while struggling to maintain her place among the highest circles of British society.  As she works to unmask a daring cat burglar obsessed with stealing the treasures of Marie Antoinette, Emily must also navigating the romantic interests of a handsome duke, a wealthy but mysterious attachĂ© to Queen Victoria, and the dashing jewel thief who may, or may not, be too dangerous to trifle with. 

The third book in the series is set amidst Vienna’s Strauss-filled ballrooms and coffee houses inhabited by disgruntled revolutionaries.  In A Fatal Waltz, Emily enters the arena of political and romantic intrigue when she discovers her fiancĂ© has a past as mysterious as any of the cases she has yet unraveled and finds herself drawn into a plot that could shatter her world as easily as it topples the thrones of Europe.

Perhaps my favorite in this series is the most recent installment, Tears of Pearl, which is set in a fabulous Turkish harem.  As a newly wed bride on her honeymoon, it is here that Emily must face her ambivalence about motherhood and the very real dangers of pregnancy and childbirth in the Victorian era.  She is also called upon to solve the murder of a British diplomat’s daughter, who is found dead in the garden of the Sultan’s Topkapi Palace.  As she navigates the labyrinthine twists and turns of the secretive harem, danger lurks around every corner and Emily must use all her skill to uncover a killer so well hidden, she faces her greatest challenge yet. 


1 comment:

  1. These sound fantastic. Thanks for the recommendation! I need to "mix it up" a bit with my romance reading, and these sound perfect.