Review: IN THE SHADOW OF VESUVIUS: Lady Emily #14

Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone celebrating had a great 4th yesterday! Personally, I never do much for the holiday. My family does a cookout and I’ll watch the fireworks show my city puts on, but that’s about it. I just enjoy having a day to relax, which is exactly what I tried to do.

I also spent a good chunk of the day thinking about this post, because it is the last Lady Emily review until the next book comes out! I am both excited and very sad because I love these books so much, but I’m looking forward to the next book (and my eventual reread of the series). There hasn’t been any news on the next book yet, but rest assured, as soon as there is I will be here, screaming about it.

So, with that being said, let’s jump right into this. I meant to post this review last month, but—well, life is hectic sometimes and I lost track of time. Before I knew it, June was over, so I have left you all waiting for this long enough.

HUGE Spoiler Alert! There is one major plot point in this book that I just simply cannot review this book without addressing, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading here. You have been warned.

Tasha Alexander’s 14th full-length installment of the Lady Emily Mystery series, IN THE SHADOW OF VESUVIUS, was a book that I finished entirely too quickly. I knew this was the last in the series, and when I read it there hadn’t been any talk of another book yet, so I knew I wanted to savor this.

Reader, I read this book in two days. I was so mad at myself when I finished. What was I supposed to do now? Read the hundreds of other books sitting on my shelf, still unread? Blasphemy. This book left me with so many feelings I still have trouble putting into words, even now, five months later.

The biggest point that I am still so hung up on—spoiler—is the introduction of Colin’s daughter, Katarina. Katarina was born as a result of Colin’s affair with the Austrian countess Kristiana von Lange, long before he and Emily met. Katarina is a teenager—sixteen or seventeen, I believe—and it definitely shows. I found myself getting frustrated with her character and her disdain for Emily quite a bit, but I can also empathize with her. She was incredibly well-written, in my opinion. Teenager girls are complicated. Teenager girls warring with their new stepmothers are even moreso complicated—I know, I briefly had a stepmother (thankfully my dad ended that one quick, but still—I can see where Katarina’s hostility comes from).

But Katarina isn’t the only problem Colin and Emily must deal with. Right from the get, Emily, Ivy, Colin, and Jeremy discover a modern body hidden among the ancient bodies preserved at Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The body was placed among the others and covered in plaster to match the volcano’s victims, launching the Hargreaveses and company into a murder investigation.

At the same time, as is typical of Tasha Alexander’s work, we get a secondary story happening between Emily’s chapters. This one features a young, female poet living in Pompeii, leading up to the eruption. This story was haunting, and I absolutely loved how the two storylines crossed over at the end. It gave me chills, and that’s not an exaggeration.

I’m conflicted in my rating for this book, I will admit. I absolutely loved it, but I do still have mixed feelings about Katarina. Her appearance added a layer of drama between Emily and Colin that I don’t know was really necessary—but, at the same time, a little drama is good every now and then. This series is never repetitive, there is always a new problem for Emily and her friends and family to face, and I can accept Katarina for what she is—another thing that brings Emily and Colin closer together. I did very much enjoy the ending, and would give this one a 4.5.

Now that we’ve reached the end of the line with this review series—and there is still no word about book 15 yet—there is no excuse; go read this series! I love these characters so, so much and I am so sad I’ve come to the end, but I can’t wait for the next book and I hope you all fall in love with Lady Emily as much as I have!

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