I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I have read a few of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily mysteries, so I was looking forward to reading A Terrible Beauty.
As the story begins, Emily and her husband Colin are preparing for a trip to Greece, where Emily has a villa that she inherited from her first husband. Philip has been dead for over ten years, but Emily suddenly finds signs that remind her of him. She even thinks that she sees him at one point, but that’s impossible- isn’t it?
Emily and Colin are joined on their trip by their friends Margaret and Jeremy, the latter of which is desperately in need of respite after the events of the previous book. They plan to while away their days in a leisurely fashion, while taking in all that the cradle of civilization has to offer. Upon their arrival at the villa, they are surprised with the revelation that the Viscount Ashton is there. It seems impossible, but this strange man appears to be Ashton- he looks vaguely like Ashton (although ten years have elapsed), and he repeats stories that no one else would know. Colin was one of Ashton’s closest friends, so this is quite an awkward situation for everyone involved. It should be noted, however, that Colin and Emily did not marry until three years after Ashton’s death. They had every expectation that he was truly dead.
A Terrible Beauty is an intriguing mystery. Not only do Emily and her friends have to contend with Ashton’s arrival, but there is also a fantastic archaeological artefact that Ashton claims to have discovered, only to have it stolen from him. There are some unsavory men who have been pursuing him for years, insisting that he still has it.
The novel proceeds at a languid pace, but this works well, given the subject matter. There is so much introspection and nuance when faced with the reappearance of a spouse presumed to be dead. Emily and Colin both have much to consider, and there are many conversations about the implications of this reappearance. Tasha Alexander has clearly done a lot of research, and I was fascinated by the detailed descriptions of archaeological sites. Emily’s love of Ancient Greek, and of Greece in general, is a clear reflection of Alexander’s own love for those subjects.
I would absolutely recommend A Terrible Beauty. I think it helps to have read the previous books in the series, but this functions well as a standalone. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next in the series, as well as catching up on the books that I have not read!