4 out of 5 Poisonous Stars
This is book 2 in the Lady Emily series
Drama! Scandal! Viva la France! Vive la Revolucion! I don’t know how to spell that. But Lady Emily is all up in it!
This is another amazing, overly complicated romp with Lady Emily as girl detective, only she’s a lady detective. And as a lady and a widow now out of mourning, she is beginning to come back into society a little. She has convinced her fellow widow and great friend, Cecille to come to England and weather the British season. Unfortunately, she also attracts the attention of a cat burglar, one with a very narrow focus. Things are going missing from the great houses of the British Elite – items belonging to the executed Queen Marie-Antoinette. Also on the scene is a man claiming to be the long lost son of the Dauphin, who was somehow smuggled out of France and is looking to regain the throne. Coincidence?
It doesn’t hurt that the man is a complete bore. One of the somewhat irritating facets of this series is that everyone is madly in love with Emily, our main character. Charles Berry, the man who would be King, is pissed off when she refuses his offer to make her his mistress. The cat burglar breaks into her house to leave love notes. I found this irritating and tropey, and in some ways it isn’t satisfactorily concluded. It leads us to the mystery of the pink diamond and a reclusive British gentleman, David Francis, a friend of friends of Emily’s with whom she has had one conversation. He also had a theft related to Marie Antoinette and didn’t report it. She convinces him to do so – and only a few days after he does, his wife shows up, saying he is now dead and accusing Emily of being his mistress!
But that’s not all! Not only is Mr. Francis dead, but so is his valet. Poison was involved and Mrs. Berry’s maid is implicated. Emily and Mrs. Berry do not believe this, and Emily can’t let go of the idea that the thefts must be involved. She throws herself into this, drinking port, and involving herself with less than savory characters and shocking everyone. Enter a few bitches:
Biggest bitch is Lord Fortescue. Emily’s best friend Ivy has married a very nice… rather boring man who wants to get involved in politics. This requires a mentor, and his mentor loathes Emily and her independent ways. He tells her she needs a husband to take her in hand. Yeah. I wanna push him down some stairs. There are also gossips bent on tearing Emily down. Her new American friend, Margaret Seward is even more independent and forward thinking, brash and antagonistic towards women’s restraints than Emily. She needs a love affair to take her parent’s attention off her freewheeling ways, at least until they go back to America. Enter Lord Bainbridge, childhood friend of Emily, who offers to be Margaret’s pretend lover. Sadly, the bon ton start spreading rumors that Emily is toying with him also. So much drama and scandal!
And of course, there’s Colin. To be honest, I finished this a week ago and haven’t written my review, so I don’t remember what he was up to. But he was around. And handsome. And madly in love with her. He stays staunchly by her side… when he’s around. It doesn’t help that Emily bungles into Robert’s business, running into Lord Fortescue’s mistress and making Robert look bad. It’s just a mess. Also, her best friend Ivy is turning into a Stepford Wife, and their relationship is in peril.
Again there were lots of red herrings, a bit of confusion, a lot of predictability, too many characters, and none of them were anything other than white and rich. There is no diversity at all. But I really enjoyed this. It is a guilty pleasure, which I will continue to read. I own all the books….