As I read each of the delightful books in Tasha Alexander's series featuring Lady Emily Ashton, I can't decide which character I would most like to be: the spirited and intellectual Margaret, the regal and self-assured Cecile, or the gracious and lovely Ivy. However, I always go back to the leading lady, Emily.

In A Fatal Waltz, the third book featuring my favorite 19th-century English sleuth (sorry, Holmes, old chap), we find Emily right where we want her—with intrigue swirling around her. I dove into this book fully anticipating Lady Emily to be at the top of her game as a forward-thinking woman testing the boundaries of elite society, to the cheers of some and the horror of others. But a new character leaves Emily reduced to little more than stammers—a beautiful, worldly, sophisticated countess who is close to the affairs surrounding this new mystery . . . and perhaps too close to Emily's fiancĂ©, Colin Hargreaves.

Thrown together with the countess at a house party hosted by the powerful but unpleasant Lord Fortescue, formerly verbose Emily suddenly finds herself searching for a snappy comeback, or any words at all. Then the sudden murder of Lord Fortescue pushes the household and its guests into chaos, and pushes Emily to gather her wits as she launches another controversial investigation. But her dedication to solving this crime has less to do with shocking her peers and more to do with a life-or-death vow to a friend: Ivy's husband, Robert, stands accused. The clues uncovered take Emily from the desolate moors of the English countryside, to London's Berkeley Square, to artists' studios in wintry Vienna. Alexander's descriptions of these places are spot-on, and readers will be equally drawn in by this mental time travel as by her superb storytelling.

Kristi Grimes writes from Birmingham, Alabama.

 

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