This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Released on October 11, 2016
A Terrible Beauty was a curious title, but right in the introduction to the first chapter it is hinted why and primes the reader for what is to come in this latest of the Lady Emily series. Off to Greece, the cradle of Western Civilization, classic culture, phenomenal scenery and breathtaking ruins, go Emily, Colin, and Emily’s two best friends all in an effort to distract Jeremy from the disappointment in love he suffered in the last book. I eagerly read on because I loved that this fun group of characters would have their next adventure set in Greece.
A Terrible Beauty is the eleventh book in the series and this is a series that must be read in order. This particular book reflected back to events in the first few along with the one just prior so it’s not a good one to try standalone or out of order.
As I said, the story opens with the Hargreaves, Bainbridge and Margaret off for a holiday in the Greek Isles. Colin and Emily usually visit her villa on Santorini every spring, but this year they include friends. Jeremy has no desire to join the London social Season and have simpering young ladies paraded before him in order to snag a duke when he is still recovering from his last nearly trip to the altar.
Their holiday is going along merrily until Emily keeps catching glimpses of Phillip Ashton, her first husband. This should be impossible since Ashton is dead. Only, is he? Arriving at the villa on Santorini, she comes face to face with her past and he brings with him an ill wind. Is he or isn’t he Phillip? He knows things that only Phillip would know. Emily and Colin struggle with the ‘resurrection’ of his best friend and her first husband and all the ramifications it has even as there is now a danger stalking Phillip from his past. A priceless artifact is at the center of it all.
Alright, I had a pretty good idea what this book would be like when I read the blurb. I was uneasy to say the least. I love this series, but I had no desire for it to descend into day-time drama stuff with a husband who was dead suddenly back to complicate matters and I really didn’t want to deal with a love-triangle particularly at this late date. But, I will confess, there was a part of me that was curious to see it play out.
A Terrible Beauty was less a suspense and more an adventure and a light one at that. The author’s love for Greece and classical Greece civilization shone through Emily’s observations, descriptions, and discourses. In fact, much of the story focuses on it. I love archeology so I didn’t mind, but I thought I’d give fair warning to those whose eyes glaze over at the thought. The threat of the unscrupulous antiquities dealer and his men made things exciting and intense, but not really suspenseful.
As to the dead husband’s return and whether he was legit and how the story would resolve the difficulty of two husbands, I worked out quickly the truth. Not every detail, but enough so that it was just a matter of reading it to see it pan out as expected. I did find it interesting how each player was affected by the situation. Emily confronting such a situation was less of a confident woman and much more emotional. Colin felt threatened, but tried to not add to the trouble. Jeremy and Margaret were stolid friends, but I felt they were de trop for this story much of the time. Although, that said, I was glad they were there to repeatedly remind Emily that this was not just difficult for her and Colin was hurting too. She made a snide remark near the end about it being her house so her decision that I felt was way out of line and it was given a pass because of the situation at the time. But jeez, he treats her as an equal unlike any other man would of the times and she goes there to get her way. Just say you disagree, don’t make it about ‘my house my rules’ game. Okay, done ranting.
But it wasn’t just Emily telling the story. Like the last several, she shared the narration with Phillip. His sections were from the past and his side of things from the moment of his ‘fake’ death to the present. This succeeded in making me rather sympathetic to him even though I had no desire for he and Emily to get back together. And to be fair, the story is told so that the reader knows that Emily is as in love with Colin as ever and has no plans of getting with Phillip.
I won’t say this was a bad story because it was moderately good, but in comparison to other Lady Emily stories it will be rather mild. I did change my anticipating when I read the blurb and so didn’t get a shocking disappointment like it could have been if I was expecting more suspense and immediate need than I got. So I recommend it, but also recommend that readers keep expectation for exciting elements or a twisty mystery to a lesser degree.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.