For any reader of a book series, the ultimate payoff is evolving with the characters of the books. Watching events and situations unfold over a number of tales, so that by the time you get to the eleventh book the characters, and thus the reader, are in a very different place.
In Tasha Alexander’s eleventh full-length Lady Emily novel, she brings Lady Emily and her husband Colin Hargreaves full circle. We, the reader, revisit the events that brought Lady Emily to the widowed state she was in when we first met her in the very first book, A Poisoned Season.
Note: A Poisoned Season was spectacular, so I highly recommend that you read this book before you read A Terrible Beauty.
In short, after the unfortunate events in The Adventuress, Lady Emily plans a trip to Greece for her, Colin, her friend Margaret and Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge. Jeremy is nursing a broken heart, but it’s Emily who is soon haunted by her past relationship. Reminders of her late husband, Phillip, begin to pop-up. Soon, the four travelers reach their destination in Santorini, the home Phillip left Emily upon his death. They are also met with a huge surprise. Lacy Emily and Colin, faced with the possibility of losing all they’ve built together, face a dangerous mystery that takes the reader from the civilized streets of London to the plains of Africa and the dusty archeology sites of Turkey and Greece.
Through the ups and downs of Lady Emily’s journey, I’ve come to appreciate her steady head and compassionate heart. While she seems to find her way into some harrowing situations, there is always a logical reason for her having landed there. Some of her previous adventures have been very physical affairs; A Terrible Beauty focused more on the internal struggles Emily faces as she tries to process the twists and turns. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of action and adventure in this book, but the highlight for this reader was the internal action.
Lady Emily and Colin often mirrored my own incredulity at some of the plot points, which only helped to reel me in because if they could find a way to test the theory and find it made sense, then who am I to disagree? Alexander brings you to the edge of belief and then turns the tale upside down near the end.
For those avid readers of the Lady Emily series, you can plan to enjoy Jeremy’s descent into extreme lack of usefulness, Margaret’s continued support of Emily in all things except for Greek superiority and Colin’s unwavering love for Emily. The usual cast of characters are all here, plus a real journey back into the series for those of us who have read each and every tale along the way.
*I was given an ARC of this book for a fair and honest review. Thank you, Netgalley and Minotaur Books.