Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: A Poisoned Season

A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily, #2)

A Poisoned Season is the second book in the Lady Emily series from Tasha Alexander. Emily Ashton is recently widowed and settling into London society after coming out of mourning. She is joined by her friend, the always entertaining Cecile from Paris, on an extended visit. It is the start of the London Season and this means an endless succession of parties and social events. The news around town is about a man claiming to be a descendant of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, who is making the rounds of society and plans to reclaim the French throne. Not only that, but a daring cat burglar is on the loose, striking fear into the aristocracy and pilfering items related to the old French royal family.

Things really get interesting when the cat burglar develops an interest in Emily. He sends her notes and even breaks into her home at one point. When a murder occurs that could be linked to these events, Emily finds herself drawn into danger and intrigue. And of course there is the matter of her continuing romance with Colin Hargreaves, the dashing gentleman who takes on special missions for the crown.

There is a lot going on in this story. Emily tries to solve the murder mystery and also plays cat and mouse with her mysterious secret admirer. Her friend Ivy suspects her husband is having an affair, and to top it off Emily finds herself the victim of vicious rumors and a scandal that could tarnish her reputation. Will she survive the game, and even if she does will her good name be ruined?

Alexander weaves these various subplots throughout the story effectively, drawing it all together and keeping the story flowing. However the dialogue is the real strength of this story, it feels spot-on and is often quite humorous. The exchanges between Emily and Colin play up the romantic tension in their relationship- Colin proposed to Emily at the end of the first book, but she has not accepted yet. There is no doubt she loves him, but she is fiercely independent and wants to live on her own terms, not by the strict rules of Victorian society. Her struggle to reconcile this with her feelings for Colin is one of the highlights of the book. Things get really interesting when Colin proposes a wager- if Emily discovers her admirers' identity before the end of Season, he will travel to Greece with her in the fall; but if she does not, she agrees to marry him. Emily enthusiastically agrees, and the game is on.

The only real issue I had with this story was the identity of the killer- I thought it was a little farfetched when it was revealed. The motivation is there, it just seemed a little implausible that the person in question would take it that far. Other than that, its a fun mystery with twists and turns and a little historical intrigue thrown in for good measure. The book, while part of a series, can be read as a standalone. The first book, And Only To Deceive, introduces the reader to Emily and her supporting cast, and we see the beginning of Emily and Colin's courtship, but its not necessary to enjoy this book. Recommended for those who like historical fiction and for anyone who likes stories set in the Victorian era.

From Goodreads:

London's social season is in full swing, and Victorian aristocracy is atwitter over a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Adding to their fascination with all things French, an audacious cat burglar is systematically stealing valuable items that once belonged to the ill–fated queen.

But things take a dark turn. The owner of one of the pilfered treasures is found murdered after the theft is reported in the newspapers, and the mysterious thief develops a twisted obsession with Lady Emily Ashton. It takes all of Lady Emily's wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, while faced with a brewing scandal that threatens both her reputation and her romance with the dashing Colin Hargreaves.


  1. Despite the far-fetched killer reveal, this does sounds like a great little mystery with some interesting characters. Lovely review Greg!