by Julie HaleNovember 2006
And Only to Deceive
Fans of period fiction will love Alexander's debut, a richly suspenseful novel set in Victorian London that blends romance, mystery and history. The book features a lovely young heroine named Emily Bromley, who marries Philip, the Viscount Ashton, simply because her mother urges her to do so. Not long after the wedding, Philip dies while on a hunting trip in Africa, a loss that Emily scarcely mourns. As Philip's widow, she has a large fortune at her disposal, so she begins to pursue her late husband's passions classical literature and ancient Greek culture. While immersing herself in these topics, she makes the acquaintance of wise, witty Cecile du Lac, who becomes a trusted companion. She also crosses paths with Philip's old friends, including the handsome Colin Hargreaves, a suspected art forger, and Andrew Palmer, who asks Emily to marry him even as he hints that Philip may still be alive. There are implications, too, that Philip may have been involved in the theft of some valuable antique art pieces. As Emily and Cecile learn more about the mysterious Viscount, traveling to Greece along the way, Emily finds herself falling in love with him. Weaving in information about archeology and classical civilization without being heavy-handed, Alexander has produced a sophisticated, wonderfully detailed whodunit that displays her promise as a novelist. A reading group guide is available at www.harpercollins.com.