Kim’s Review of Death in the Floating City (Lady Emily Series #7) by Tasha Alexander

ditfcTowards the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 I was introduced to a character by the name of Lady Emily. She is a woman of the Victorian Era, a time when woman should be seen and not heard.  Lady Emily, however, is a woman who bucks that notion and delves into learning, reading, languages, art, geography, etc.  I found so much of myself in her at times that I flew through the first book of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series And Only to DeceiveAfter falling head-over-heels in love with Alexander’s writing, characters, and settings I quickly made my way through the other five available books: A Poisoned Season, A Fatal Waltz, Tears of Pearl, Dangerous to Knowand A Crimson Warning (all links lead to my reviews).

In the latest installment of the Lady Emily series, Death In the Floating City, we follow Emily as her adventures take her to Italy for the first time.  Many years ago, Emily’s childhood arch nemesis  Emma Callum, shocked English society by eloping to Venice, Italy with her lover, an Italian count.  Despite their past, Emma has now turned to Emily for help as she finds herself entangled in a mystery that involves the death of her father-in-law and the disappearance of her husband.  Emily takes her up on the offer, and travels to Venice with her husband, Colin Hargreaves.  There, Emily discovers that there is more to this story than what meets the eye, and she finds that she must look to the past to solve this crime in the present day.

I’ve always been impressed with authors who can write 5+ books in a series and keep each one feeling fresh and new, while continuing to develop the characters and relationships in new and exciting ways.  Death in the Floating City is the seventh book in the Lady Emily series, yet it reads with the excitement and freshness of the first, And Only to Deceive.  It’s 100% due to Alexander’s talent as a writer.  Not only should she continue to write the Lady Emily series, but I think she should start writing travel books as well.  Her descriptions of Venice are astonishingly beautiful, stunning, and so visual.  At times I could close my eyes and completely see the scene she was painting for me.

When I read Alexander’s books I literally become so engulfed by them.  The characters’ sadness is my sadness, their happiness is my happiness as well.  By the time I got to the last few pages of the book my face hurt SO MUCH from smiling.  I walked around the whole day with just a goofy grin on my face because I was completely overwhelmed with happiness.  Books that can have that kind of effect on a person are my favorite.  It’s a clear indication that the writer got you enveloped in the story.  The added surprise to Death in the Floating City was a book within the book!  Not only do you become completely obsessed with the murder mystery, but you are fascinated by the tragedy that is Besina and Nicolo’s story.  I was slightly saddened that Colin was missing for large chunks of this book, but understood the reason for it once I got to the end.

I’m excited about the direction that the series is taking.  The decisions and discoveries made at the end of Death in the Floating City should create some interesting problems/conflicts to overcome in the next books of the series.  Book eight, Behind the Shattered Glass, is slated to release this upcoming October.

On a completely different side note, Elsie Lyons has been designing the covers of Alexander’s novels since book five (Dangerous to Know) and she needs a shout out. These covers are exquisite and to put it simply, I love them.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my twelfth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander
Minotaur Books (2012)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN: 9780312661762

#100 A Review of A Fatal Waltz (Lady Emily Series #3) by Tasha Alexander

A Fatal Waltz (Lady Emily Series #3)In A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander, the third novel in the Lady Emily mystery series, we find ourselves again in Victorian England with Lady Emily Ashton.  This time, we follow Lady Emily to a house party in the country, hosted by Lord Basil Fortesque.  Unfortunately for Lord Fortesque, he winds up dead as the recipient of a bullet from a dueling pistol.  Lady Emily sets her mind to discovering who the killer is after the husband of one of her good friends is erroneously implicated as the murderer.  Unfortunately Lady Emily has little to go by, as the only clue is a letter sent to the deceased that references a political assassination.  Acting on the information contained in the letter, Lady Emily travels to Vienna, where she must dig up new details and place together new clues.  Fortunately she gets to spend some time with her fiance, Colin Hargreaves (an undercover agent for the crown).  She is also involved in an interesting twist when she must make friends with his former lover, Kristiana Von Lange, in order to get out of a difficult situation.  With all of the twists and turns thrown at Lady Emily it begins to seem as if the murder will never get solved!  Will her engagement end now that Kristiana is back in Colin’s life?  Will Emily be able to make a breakthrough in the case before it’s too late?

Immediately after finishing A Poisoned Season, I picked up A Fatal Waltz ready to jump into another mystery with Emily and Colin.  I couldn’t wait to read not only how their relationship progressed, but also the tongue-in-cheek humor that I’ve come to expect from Alexander’s writing.  While Waltz moved a bit slower than the first two in the series, it did NOT disappoint on the mystery front.  I was guessing the entire time, thinking myself a better sleuth than I actually was!  I failed miserably, guessing completely wrong. Hopefully by the sixth book in the series I’ll have picked up some detective skills from Emily that help me figure out whodunit before the story ends (I can only hope).

As in the previous novels of the series, Emily is a modern-thinking woman, keen on keeping her independence and freedom.  She’s an absolutely fascinating heroine to follow, as she really gives a big middle finger to the social restrictions on women.  She reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice in multiple ways.  She allows her wit and intelligence to ease the way for her non-traditional values and decisions.  Most of the people she meets are enthralled by her and for the most part come around to her way of thinking.  Maybe they don’t 100% agree with her, yet they respect her views enough to allow for the freedom of discussion about them.  She’s a heroine I’m proud to like, and I think that anyone who gives these novels a chance would definitely appreciate her mind and find themselves growing quite attached to her.  Not only this, But I’m willing to bet that once you begin to read the first novel in this series, you won’t be able to stop until the sixth and most current novel ends up in your “finished” pile.  They’re that good!

4 out of 5 Stars

A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander
Harper Collins (2008)
Hardcover 304 pages
ISBN: 9780061174223

Note: With this review I close out 2011, and officially complete my 2011 100 book challenge! Yahoo!!!