For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. So when Emily’s dashing husband died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married so cavalierly. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love with his wife. Emily becomes fascinated with this new image of her dead husband and she immerses herself in all things ancient and begins to study Greek. Emily’s intellectual pursuits and her desire to learn more about Philip take her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum, one of her husband’s favorite places. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts from the Greco-Roman galleries. And to complicate matters, she’s juggling two very prominent and wealthy suitors, one of whose intentions may go beyond the marrying kind. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about Philip and causes her to question the role in Victorian society to which she, as a woman, is relegated.
I found myself sympathetic to Lady Emily. She is a woman ahead of her time, yet constrained by the strict protocol of society. When the story opens, Emily’s period of mourning is almost over, and society expects her to take the next logical step–remarriage to an eligible young man. However, Emily has discovered the joy of freedom, of not being under someone’s thumb. She begins to hear stories of her husband Philip’s interest in Greek literature and his love of antiquities. She discovers a shared joy of all things Greek, and begins learning about the culture. Along the way, she begins to fear that Philip’s death wasn’t an accident, and she also stumbles upon evidence that Philip may have been involved in some illegal activity. As she tries to solve the mystery, she visits new countries and makes new friends, including the mysterious Collin Hargreaves. I liked the Victorian world portrayed here. The story combined many of my favorite elements: a strong female protagonist, a bit of romance, mystery, and historical fiction. I’ve told my friends that it’s Pride and Prejudice meets Sherlock Holmes! Great beginning to an incredible series!