Monday, May 31, 2010

A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander

Book Description:
London's social season is in full swing, and the Victorian aristocracy can't stop whispering about a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. But he's not the only topic of wagging tongues. Drawing rooms, boudoirs, and ballrooms are abuzz with the latest news of an audacious cat burglar who has been making off with precious items that once belonged to the ill-fated queen.

Light gossip turns serious when the owner of one of the pilfered treasures is found murdered, and the mysterious thief develops a twisted obsession with Emily. But the strong-minded and fiercely independent Emily will not be shaken. It will take all of her considerable wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, even as a brewing scandal threatens both her reputation and her romance with her late husband's best friend, the dashing Colin Hargreaves.

Second in the Lady Emily Ashton Victorian lady turned sleuth series. This time Emily is perilously on the hunt of a killer as well as seeking the identity of the lost heir to the Bourbon throne. She's in the thick of it with plots, false identies, sneaking into hotel rooms and rooting out undesirable parlor maids who may or may not be spies. Not to mention, she needs to salvage her reputation which is diminishing day by day during London's whirlwind season amidst the Victorian age.

It wasn't bad, the novel was diverting and had enough romance in it to make it interesting, but there was something lacking, it did not have the same charm and elegance as the first in the series. I can't put my finger on it, but I think I preferred the earlier Lady Emily. I felt uncomfortable for her here, her disregard of the social niceties that are so important in her class are getting her in trouble. I still like her enormously, but I can't help thinking that the author is putting too many modern day ideas in Emily's head that would have been scandalously unrealistic and unheard of in Lady Emily's day. For all the first rate research and detail in these novels, there's a glaring hole in this respect. I think Lady Emily would have had better sense and decorum as a beautiful, single widow under the Victorian microscope. Though don't get me wrong, she's not really doing anything too outlandish, but heads are wagging and her mother and Queen Victoria have to actually step in and save her reputation! For shame!

Perhaps I'm being too harsh, but I wanted her to take better care and she seems to be awfully naive about how society can ostracize her in a second. Rumors are spread about her supposed affair with her friend, Jeremy (and whatever happened to his storyline, btw I kept thinking he was going to declare himself to her, afterall) which are not true, but she's not going out of her way to try and quash them, in fact Colin takes matters into his own hands to try and quell the rumors by escorting her to the opera. What I'd like to know is, why aren't the gossipmongers going on and on about her relationship with Colin, who makes no secret of his affection for her and her comings and goings to his bachelor townhouse. I also couldn't shake the impression that Lady Emily is becoming too much of a busybody, wreaking havoc wherever she goes! More than a few lives are adversely affected due to her inquiries and sometimes I nearly cringed at what her meddling could cause, particularly with her friend, Ivy. I sound like such a disapproving matron!

But, aside from my quibbles, it was a fluffy bit of fiction, I enjoyed the mysterious letters written in Greek from her thief/admirer, but found his identity as well as most of the revelations by the end - anticlimatic and highly improbable. Still, I'm definitely eager to read the rest of the series, especially now that things have stepped up between Emily and Colin (finally!)



Joanne said...

Well, shoot! I was hoping you would love this one as much as the first book. It's interesting how we all focus on different aspects of the story and walk away with our unique perspectives.

Have you completed your exams? Hope you had the day off today and enjoyed some down time.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Joanne, I knew you'd be sorry I didn't love this (this is your favorite, right?), but I feel like Emily is losing some of her inital sweetness she had in the first book, and she's getting a bit too bold for her own good now - I'm hoping Colin will soften her now that they're engaged and she won't feel like she has to prove something in the next book. This was sort of like her independence book and it backfired on her, of course I could be completely wrong! LOL!

Nope, haven't taken my exam yet, this coming Saturday.

Joanne said...

Yes, I really enjoyed this one as much as #l. I agree, though, that Lady Emily goes way beyond the parameters of what was considered acceptable for women during that time period. That's what I found unrealistic about #3, A Fatal Waltz. Emily infiltrates an anarchist/terrorist covert operation in Vienna!! Say what?! Still a good read, with a some high-class cattiness between Emily and Katriana, a former love of Colin.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Oh my!

LOL! Okay, now that I've been prepared, sounds a bit Pink Carnation like! I shouldn't take it all so literally and just accept that this is escapist fiction and in even though proper Victorian young ladies didn't uncover anarchist/terrorist covert operations in Vienna back in the day, it's still fun to read books as if they did!

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