In this book, Lady Emily is now engaged to Colin, and gets drawn into his world of espionage in her quest to clear the name of someone close to her. The trip takes her to Vienna, where she consorts with the best and worst… and with a woman Colin once loved, and who still wants to be with Colin herself (despite her marriage). Jealousy isn’t a good look on Lady Emily, and I was embarrassed for her when she slipped and revealed her lack of trust in Colin. I joke about being the relationship advice Dalek, but really, communicate!
Aside from the plotline of jealousy, it turns out someone else is in love with Emily (groan), so there are two jealousy plotlines here, both involving unrequited love. I admit that this book is not my favourite so far because of that, though the investigation plot was actually fairly engaging. I enjoyed Emily’s dip into espionage, even if it all got a little melodramatic.
In the end, it’s a fun read, just didn’t quite capture me the way the previous books have!
The second Lady Emily book focuses on a mysterious string of incidents in which items that had belonged to Marie Antoinette are being stolen — along with a sideplot of her encounters with a mysterious admirer. Meanwhile, Colin continues to try to persuade her to marry him, and scandal about her bubbles away.
The book features quite a few delights — anonymous flirting in Greek, Emily’s continued interest in her studies and classical art, Colin’s attempts to persuade her of his affections, and Emily’s friendships with other women around her. Even her mother is a delight, in her own overbearing way, because her support for her daughter is solid despite the total lack of understanding between them. She even arranges for Emily to have tea with the Queen!
Like the first book, I found this really enjoyable, and I’m eager to read the third. Which is annoyingly out of print, but ebooks have come to my rescue.
Lady Emily married quickly to get away from her parents — or mostly her mother, who is overbearing and absolutely obsessed with getting her married off safely before she loses her looks. (Ugh.) She barely had time for the honeymoon, though, before her husband went away on an expedition… and never returned, with his friends sending back the news that he was dead, leaving her in possession of all his things, a lot of money, and a lot more freedom.
Over the course of the book it turns out that he was deeply in love with her, and she begins to read his journals and understand the kind of man he was, beginning to explore his interests and what she might have shared with him. This leads to her falling in love with him too, despite knowing he’s already gone. At the same time, strange things are happening and it seems that he may have been involved in something strange, or perhaps even dangerous, a tangle that Lady Emily decides to unravel.
I ended up enjoying this a lot, enough that I immediately got the next book (and by this point I’m gleefully onto the third). I liked the idea of how Emily falls in love with her husband posthumously — it’s feels surprisingly tender and real, and it’s a surprising touch, especially given she does go on to have a new love interest. She’s anachronistic, of course, though not quite so much so as Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell — the book does show some of the ways in which that disturbs people and that makes it feel a bit more real. No surprises that I’d feel a kinship with a heroine who loves books, anyway…
Oof, getting too warm to think in my little office in Yorkshire. Gah, summer is here again, apparently.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading a lot all at once at the moment. This is normally something I’d feel weird and guilty about because I should be finishing books, right? But I’ve given up on that kind of guilting myself, and this is much closer to the joyful, voracious and random reading I did as a child — which is the kind of reading which made me really happy. So I’m sticking with it.
I’m still reading several of the books from last week; I’ve also picked up The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, by Cat Sebastian, because it sounded like exactly the ticket right now. I’ve also started in on the fifth Whyborne & Griffin book by Jordan L. Hawk, which promises to be the same quick-paced fun as the others — and I’m somewhat reassured that while Whyborne is never going to be a confident man, he has developed somewhat and learned to trust Griffin.
What have you recently finished reading?
I think the last thing I finished was Phoenix Extravagant, which was very different to Yoon Ha Lee’s series, starting with Ninefox Gambit, which is what really drew my attention to his work. I enjoyed Phoenix Extravagant, but it’s less complex/mind-bending to follow. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing or a good thing; it’s a different thing, and I’m still kind of letting it sit to see what I think when the dust has settled.
I also finished Plain Bad Heroines, which I found to be very lacking in payoff for all those pages of vaguely creepy promises.
What are you going to read next?
As ever, I don’t really know. I have a strong suspicion I’ll be picking up the third Lady Emily book by Tasha Alexander, and I’m quite in the mood to reread some old favourites too — which might be Marie Brennan, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, or Vivian Shaw…
We’ll see, as ever. Only time will tell, with my mood-reading and my moods!
Here we are again, it’s Wednesday already. I think it’s my fault: I have an exam coming, so time is doing weird things.
At least I’m close to being caught up on my backlog of reviews to write! 26/28 done… (I won’t be posting them all at once, don’t worry.) Anyway, for now let’s stick to the usual Wednesday update.
What are you currently reading?
Fiction: Let’s see… quite a few things at once. I’m still reading Plain Bad Heroines (emily m. danforth), and I’m now onto the second Kate Daniels book, Magic Burns (Ilona Andrews). I’ve also picked up Phoenix Extravagant (Yoon Ha Lee), which I’ve been meaning to read forever — yes, okay, I even had the ARC, this is a peril of being a mood-reader — and am enjoying so far, though I’m not very far into it. I’m also reading The Cheltenham Square Murder (John Bude); I normally find Bude’s books solid but not remarkable, and so is proving to be the case with this — but a little Golden Age crime does hit the spot right now.
Non-fiction: I’ve started on Food: The History of Taste (ed. Paul Freedman), which… I have some mixed feelings about, given the first essay-writer got some stuff wrong (there is no area of your tongue dedicated to tasting sweet things), and just… made me worry about the quality of their other research and whether they leaned too much on received wisdom. I’m still reading Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, too, which has finally got round to some dinosaurs.
What have you recently finished reading?
I finished a couple of the other books I’ve been talking about for a bit, like The Invention of Murder, but also went off-piste a bit and read the fourth Whyborne & Griffin book by Jordan L. Hawk. I’ve been meaning to for a while, and it was a very satisfying Saturday read — it was my day off, so I could start the book in the morning and polish it off by night.
Now to avoid waiting so long to read the fifth…
What will you be reading next?
I don’t know, as ever. However, I have been trying to line up some possibles and just keep them well in sight. So that list includes Tasha Alexander’s third Lady Emily book, A Fatal Waltz, and Robert Sapolsky’s Behave, which I’ve had for quite a while… though as always, I’ll let whimsy be my guide as well. Possibly even literally Wimsey, since I do need some beloved books to pamper my brain through this exam. Medical statistics, bleechhh.