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

#96 A Review of A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily Series #2) by Tasha Alexander

A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily Series #2)The second installment in the Lady Emily mystery series, A Poisoned Season begins with Lady Emily Ashton at the tail end of mourning for her husband.  (We learn of his death in And Only To Deceive)  As a fresh start, she decides to re-join the London social scene on her own terms.  Newcomer to the social scene, is a Charles Berry who claims that he is the direct descendant of Louie XVI and Marie Antoinette.  Not only this, but he intends to take Lady Emily as his mistress (although she won’t have any of it!)  Additionally, it appears that someone has been stealing items that belonged to Marie Antoinette, and just as the mystery appears to deepen with this new development, the owner of one of the items is murdered, deepening it further.  It is up to Lady Emily to find the true burglar and murderer before he or she finds her, as it seems that the thief  is becoming exceptionally interested in Lady Emily.  She must work quickly as her own life is at stake!  Will she be able to make it in time?

Alexander does a fantastic job with A Poisoned Season.  Just like her first novel, I was hanging on the edge of my seat from cover to cover.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of the new characters that we’re introduced to.  Lady Emily’s childhood friend Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge was a perfectly added dose of comedic relief.  We’re also treated to more of the romantic tete-a-tete between Colin Hargreaves and Lady Emily, as Colin continues to try to convince Emily to marry him.

As I stated in my review of the And Only To Deceive, had Jane Austen and Agatha Christie been writing partners, Tasha Alexander’s books would have been the outcome.  The mystery that Alexander sets up for us is wonderful.  I had my thoughts on who the culprits could have been from the beginning, and was shocked to find out how wrong I was by the end.  The ending completely blew me away, as I was not expecting it AT ALL.  Throw into the investigation some background on Marie Antoinette, fine art, and literary discussions, and you have a mystery that you actually learn things from.  This is probably one of my favorite things about the Lady Emily series (I’m currently reading book #4).  They’re intelligent mysteries that make comments about the social/intellectual restraints of the Victorian time period, while at the same time providing characters and story lines that encourage you, the reader, to further your own knowledge of the events/people/places mentioned.

I cannot recommend Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series enough.  It’s literally all I’ve been talking about for the past two weeks, and I have been recommending it to everyone.  They’re engaging, intellectual, funny, and sophisticated reads that are sure to please mystery, adventure, and historical fiction fans abound.

5 out of 5 Stars

A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander
Harper Collins (2008)
Paperback  352 pages
ISBN: 9780061174216