At her friend Ivy's behest, Emily reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the sprawling English country estate of Lord Fortescue, a man she finds as odious as he is powerful. But if Emily is expecting Lord Fortescue to be the greatest of her problems, she is wrong. Her host has also invited Kristiana von Lange, an Austrian countess who was once linked romantically with Emily's fiance, the debonair Colin Hargreaves. What Emily believes will be a tedious evening turns deadly when Fortescue is found murdered, and his protge, Robert Brandon--Ivy's husband--is arrested for the crime.
Determined to right this terrible wrong and clear Robert's name, Emily begins to dig for answers, a quest that will lead her from London's glittering ballrooms to Vienna's sordid backstreets. Not until she engages a notorious anarchist in a game of wits does the shocking truth begin to emerge: the price of exonerating Robert can be paid only by placing Colin in deadly peril. To save her fiance, Emily must do the unthinkable: bargain with her nemesis, the Countess von Lange.
In Alexander's charming third novel of romantic suspense set in late Victorian England (after The Poisoned Season), Lady Emily Ashton is at a country house party when someone shoots her noxious host, Lord Basil Fortescue, with a dueling pistol. After the husband of a good friend is accused of the murder, Emily determines to find the real killer. The only clue, a threatening letter promising a political assassination, drives Emily to Vienna, where she meets the painter Gustav Klimt and shares stolen moments with her fiance, diplomat Colin Hargreaves. But Emily never forgets her urgent mission--in the service of which she must match wits with double agents and anarchists as well as ally herself temporarily with Colin's former lover, the sexually sophisticated Kristiana von Lange. The appealing Emily at times comes across as too modern for even the most unconventional Victorian character, and the plot sags in mid-story despite several clever subplots. Still, the book's entertaining voice and accurate period detail will seduce most readers. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 18, 2008
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