Back again with another Lady Emily review! We are chugging along and I swear, I’m almost done with this review series. I will be taking a break soon to share a review for a different book, but for now, we get to revisit our favorite Victorian sleuth, Lady Emily Hargreaves.
Today, I’m reviewing the eleventh book in the series: A TERRIBLE BEAUTY. I’m going to start by saying that this was, by far, one of my favorites in the series. I know I say that a lot, but now that I’ve finished the series and had a few months to stew on my feelings, I can say with full confidence that A TERRIBLE BEAUTY is second only to the first book in the series, AND ONLY TO DECEIVE. I adore this book. This is another book I read in one day (January 23-24)—remember how slow my work was in January? I read eleven books and novellas during my downtime in January and could not keep up with written reviews as I blew through the latter half of this series. This was one book I wish I’d read a little slower, just to take it all in, but it earned a solid 5-stars from me. No question about it.
As always, here’s a spoiler alert.
In an effort to distract Jeremy from his betrayal and broken engagement, Lady Emily Hargreaves, her husband Colin, and their friend Margaret plan a trip to Emily’s Greek villa on Santorini, left to her by her late first husband, the Viscount Phillip Ashton.
Phillip was murdered mere months after their wedding, by a friend on an African hunting trip. In the first book, AND ONLY TO DECEIVE, Emily grapples with her lack of grief after his death—she only knew him for a short time before his death, and she enjoyed the freedom she was granted while Phillip was away, and later in her widowhood. But as time progresses, she’s not so sure Phillip actually died in Africa. She spends the book trying to solve the mystery of her husband’s death, but by the end she accepts Colin’s assurance that Phillip—his best friend—was, in fact dead. Colin stayed with him until the very end.
Ten years have passed since this first mystery that brought Colin and Emily together. They are happily married, with three sons and ten murderers and criminals brought to justice as a result of the Hargreaves’ detective work. Now, they are looking forward to a quiet vacation with their friends on Emily’s villa.
Too bad it’s hard to enjoy a vacation when your once-dead husband has somehow returned, and his dead friend, injured during a storm the night before Emily’s arrival, is laying in one of your guest bedrooms.
*Cue emotional screaming*
That’s pretty much how I read this entire book—just internally screaming the entire time. Emily and Colin have to figure out how to navigate this tumultuous change in their relationship—but is it a tumultuous change?
The pure drama of the story is honestly enough for me, but it wouldn’t be an Emily story without mystery and some nod to Emily’s love of antiquities. We get the additional drama of a missing priceless artifact that may or may not exist, black market antiquities dealers sending gangs after Phillip, and, of course, murder.
I won’t spoil the ending here because seriously, you need to experience this book from beginning to end for yourself. The twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat, and the ending is something that I still think about daily, five months later. If you stick with this series for no other reason, stick with it to take in A TERRIBLE BEAUTY in all its glory.