A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily Series #2)
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A Poisoned Season (Lady Emily Series #2)

4.3 94
by Tasha Alexander

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London's social season is in full swing, and Victorian aristocracy can't stop whispering about a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. But he's not the only topic of wagging tongues. Drawing rooms, boudoirs, and ballrooms are abuzz with the latest news of an audacious cat burglar who has been systematically


London's social season is in full swing, and Victorian aristocracy can't stop whispering about a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. But he's not the only topic of wagging tongues. Drawing rooms, boudoirs, and ballrooms are abuzz with the latest news of an audacious cat burglar who has been systematically stealing valuable items that once belonged to the ill-fated queen.

Light gossip turns serious when the owner of one of the pilfered treasures is found murdered, and the mysterious thief develops a twisted obsession with Lady Emily Ashton. It will take all of Emily's wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, while faced with a brewing scandal that threatens both her reputation and her romance with her late husband's best friend, the dashing Colin Hargreaves.

Editorial Reviews

“Immediately engrossing and thoroughly entertaining...Alexander writes with a fullness and richness that leaves the reader extremely satisfied.”
Romantic Times
“Sometimes touching, sometimes funny and always absorbing, this Victorian-era mystery hits all the right notes.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
Tasha Alexander returns to Victorian England in the sequel to her 2005 debut, And Only to Deceive, a historical whodunit that featured amateur sleuth Lady Emily Ashton, the spirited young widow of a wealthy viscount, who finds more than a few obstacles in the chauvinistic culture of late-19th-century London.

The high-society circles of Greater London are abuzz with gossip concerning Charles Berry, a decidedly ill-mannered gentleman who claims to be a direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The intrigue surrounding Berry is intensified when a thief begins breaking into the homes of the aristocracy and stealing only items that used to belong to the infamous French queen. Lady Ashton is drawn in when a mysterious suitor begins leaving strange gifts, including love poems written in Greek and a rare pink diamond that was once owned by Marie-Antoinette herself. When a man linked to Berry is found poisoned to death, Ashton's curiosity gets the best of her, and ignoring warnings from her love interest Colin Hargreave, she investigates…

Blending elements of historical fiction, Regency romance, and knotty amateur detective mystery à la Agatha Christie's Miss Marple saga, Alexander's Emily Ashton novels should appeal to readers who enjoy meticulously researched and vividly described historical whodunits, as well as those who are partial to mysteries featuring courageous and shrewd female protagonists. Fans of authors like Anne Perry and Clare Langley-Hawthorne in particular will thoroughly enjoy Alexander's lavish jaunt through upper-crust Victorian society. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly

When Lady Emily Ashton, an unconventional young widow, comes to London for the social season at the start of Alexander's highly enjoyable late Victorian novel of suspense (the sequel to And Only to Deceive), a presumptive heir to the French throne and a slew of robberies by a thief obsessed with Marie Antoinette soon become the talk of the town. The stakes rise after the murder of one of the thief's victims. As Emily risks her reputation to solve the crimes, she must contend with a mysterious beau, who woos her in Greek. The author deftly works in background material pertinent to Emily's life as well as period detail that never slows the narrative. Emily sometimes behaves in unlikely ways (e.g., visiting a man at his bachelor residence, getting on a first-name basis with a woman after a brief acquaintance), but readers looking for a lighter version of Anne Perry will be well rewarded. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
London high society is all abuzz about a mysterious gentleman, a cat burglar, murder, and a stalker threatening Lady Emily Aston in her second historical mystery (after And Only To Deceive). Alexander lives in Tennessee. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“Sometimes touching, sometimes funny and always absorbing, this Victorian-era mystery hits all the right notes.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Lady Emily Series , #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Poisoned Season

Chapter One

There are several things one can depend upon during the London Season: an overwhelming barrage of invitations, friends whose loyalties turn suspect, and at least one overzealous suitor. This year was to prove no exception.

Having recently come out of mourning for my late husband, Philip, the Viscount Ashton, I was determined to adopt a hedonistic approach to society, something that I imagined would involve refusing all but the most enticing invitations and being forced to cull disloyal acquaintances. This would allow me to enjoy the summer months instead of trudging from party to party, feeling like one of the exhausted dead, finding myself the subject of the gossip that fuels young barbarians at play.

However, it became clear almost immediately that my theory was flawed. Declining to attend parties proved not to have the desired effect. Instead of dropping me from their guest lists, people assumed I was in such demand that I was choosing to attend events even more exclusive than their own, and there are few better ways to increase one's volume of invitations than by the appearance of popularity. So for a short while—a very short while—my peers held me in high esteem.

It was during this time that I found myself at the home of Lady Elinor Routledge, one of the finest hostesses in England and a long-standing friend of my mother's. By definition, therefore, she was more concerned with a person's societal standing than with anything else. Despite this, I had decided to attend her garden party for two reasons. First, I wanted to see her roses, whose equal, according to rumor, could not be foundin all of England. Second, I hoped to meet Mr. Charles Berry, a young man whose presence in town had caused a stir amongst all the aristocracy. The roses surpassed all of my expectations; unfortunately, the gentleman did not.

When stepping into the garden at Meadowdown, one was transported from the gritty heat of London's streets to a sumptuous oasis. For the party, lovely peaked tents were scattered between hedgerows, trees, and beds of flowers, ensuring that guests would never be more than a few paces from refreshment, and the sounds of a small orchestra wafted through the grounds. Young ladies flitted about, their brightly colored dresses competing with the flowers for attention and rarely losing the battle. The gentlemen, turned out in dark frock coats, were elegant, too, keeping their companions well supplied with ices, strawberries, or whatever delicacies might catch their fancy. Et in Arcadia ego. It would take little effort for one to imagine in this scene an eligible prince, all courtesy and ease, graciously bestowing his favor on those around him. But there was no such gentleman at Lady Elinor's that day. The only prince present—if he could be called that—was a grave disappointment.

The romantic ideals swirling around the heir to a throne are seldom capable of surviving close scrutiny. In the case of Charles Berry, these ideals hardly stood observation from afar. His appearance was not unpleasant, but his manners were dreadful, and to say that he was prone to drink more than he ought would be a very diplomatic statement indeed. The young ladies who followed his every move with admiration happily ignored all of this; they were captivated by the notion of marrying into a royal family. The situation was rendered all the more ridiculous when one considered the fact that the throne to which Mr. Berry aspired no longer existed.

"I hoped he would be more handsome." Cécile du Lac formed opinions of people quickly and rarely changed them. We had known each other for less than a year, but she had become one of my closest confidantes almost from the moment I'd met her, despite the fact that she was nearer in age to my mother than to me. She watched him as she continued. "And he lacks completely the generous spirit one likes to find in a monarch. If he could not claim a direct relation to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, society would hold him in much less regard."

Almost from the moment Louis XVI's son and heir had died in a French prison during the revolution, rumors that the boy had escaped began to circulate. Now, nearly a century later, gentlemen were still coming forward, insisting that they were descended from Louis Charles. Charles Berry was the most recent to make the claim, and his story was filled with enough details to convince the surviving members of the Bourbon family to accept him as the dauphin's great-grandson.

"Don't judge him too harshly," Lady Elinor said, moving her hands gracefully in a gesture designed not to emphasize her words, but to show off the spectacular ruby ring on her right hand. "He's led a difficult life."

"Do you know him well?" I asked her.

"He was at Oxford with my son, George, although they didn't move in the same crowd. George has always been very serious. He takes after his father." Lady Elinor's husband, Mr. John Routledge, had been a steady if somewhat humorless man, who served in the government as chancellor of the exchequer until his death some years ago. George, who was much older than his sister, had taken a position in the diplomatic corps and had been stationed in India for so long that I could hardly recall what he looked like. "Let me introduce you. I think you'll find Mr. Berry most charming."

The gentleman in question stood not far from us, surrounded by several very eligible heiresses whose mothers watched, hawklike, from a safe distance, eagerly trying to gauge which girl garnered the most attention from the purported heir to the House of Bourbon. I wondered if any of them gave even momentary consideration to what it might be like to actually be the wife of such a man. None of the mothers tried to hide her irritation when Lady Elinor pulled him away.

A Poisoned Season. Copyright © by Tasha Alexander. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>

Meet the Author

When not reading, Tasha Alexander can be found hard at work on her next book featuring Emily Ashton.

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Poisoned Season 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 94 reviews.
Debbie-J-1970 More than 1 year ago
When an author is passionate about a particular subject or time, it comes through in their work. Tasha Alexander's 'A Poisoned Season' is my first venture into Victorian Suspense, and I'm glad it was. She captures the time period so perfectly, that one must wonder if she lived during that time and is merely recording her experiences. At the heart of the novel is the 'curse of Marie Antoinette', and the theft of her belongings that have been spread throughout since her imprisonment and death. Each page was an effortless read, with each conversation building from the last making for a real page-turner. I am an avid horror/thriller reader, so this was a real detour for me, however I was so impressed, that I would recommend 'A Poisoned Season' to fans of any genre who is aching for a good, smooth, passionate read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Lady Emily, a modern woman in Victorian dress. She's intelligent, courageous, and perceptive. The turn of the century setting is interesting, the characters well-rounded, and I enjoyed the mystery.
Titian More than 1 year ago
I loved the concept of a mystery with a 19th century heroine. The characters are complex and the story is not predictable. Lots of fun and I recommend this book highly. The heroine has a very modern idea of what a woman's life should be and she won't give up her freedom easily. There are two plots - that of the mystery to be resolved and that of the heroine. It is interesting that she must make compromises to stay within the social norms of her times, while her inner self wants to break out. There are many struggles to be resolved. Enjoy this book - I did!
lilshai More than 1 year ago
Since this was the next book in the Lady Emily Series, and I was already enraptured with the story line, I was not expecting it to be about what it was. The plot itself has been present in many other books, but the mystery behind discovering the truth that Lady Emily unravelled was quite different. For the time period that this story was set in, I find that the techniques used and the threats apparent were very attention grabbing. It's not every day that a Lady uses cryptography to discover the hidden truth that history left unwritten. Being the headstrong woman that she is, Lady Emily threw herself into solving this mystery, regardless of the threats made on the life of those around her (herself included). I was completely caught off guard at what she discovered, but in a sense, not surprised. It is still a mystery after all, so one can't expect to know where the leads will end up at. This book was just as enticing as the first and I immediately started the next book in the series after finishing this one.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Looking for a good read while waiting for the next CS Harris book to come out, I thought I would give this a try.. I had a hard time liking Lady Emily and I felt that it was a very slow read. So in the end it was little better than okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great series to escape to when i want to solve a mystery in Victorian England. Strong, independant female characters make this series tolerable for the modern gal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love,love Tasha Alexander books!! The Lady Emily books are a fun reading experience!
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This wasn't fluff. You had to think about what was happening, But it was very interesting.
LillMagill More than 1 year ago
A great follow-up!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love, love, love this series. I have read all of the Lady Emily books and am waiting for the seventh to be released. Intriguing novels with great characters. I look forward to seeing them again and again.
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Kimberly_Book_Addict More than 1 year ago
The second installment in the Lady Emily mystery series, A Poisoned Season begins with Lady Emily Ashton at the tail end of mourning for her husband. (We learn of his death in And Only To Deceive) As a fresh start, she decides to re-join the London social scene on her own terms. Newcomer to the social scene, is a Charles Berry who claims that he is the direct descendant of Louie XVI and Marie Antoinette. Not only this, but he intends to take Lady Emily as his mistress (although she won&rsquo;t have any of it!) Additionally, it appears that someone has been stealing items that belonged to Marie Antoinette, and just as the mystery appears to deepen with this new development, the owner of one of the items is murdered, deepening it further. It is up to Lady Emily to find the true burglar and murderer before he or she finds her, as it seems that the thief is becoming exceptionally interested in Lady Emily. She must work quickly as her own life is at stake! Will she be able to make it in time? Alexander does a fantastic job with A Poisoned Season. Just like her first novel, I was hanging on the edge of my seat from cover to cover. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the new characters that we&rsquo;re introduced to. Lady Emily&rsquo;s childhood friend Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge was a perfectly added dose of comedic relief. We&rsquo;re also treated to more of the romantic tete-a-tete between Colin Hargreaves and Lady Emily, as Colin continues to try to convince Emily to marry him. As I stated in my review of the And Only To Deceive, had Jane Austen and Agatha Christie been writing partners, Tasha Alexander&rsquo;s books would have been the outcome. The mystery that Alexander sets up for us is wonderful. I had my thoughts on who the culprits could have been from the beginning, and was shocked to find out how wrong I was by the end. The ending completely blew me away, as I was not expecting it AT ALL. Throw into the investigation some background on Marie Antoinette, fine art, and literary discussions, and you have a mystery that you actually learn things from. This is probably one of my favorite things about the Lady Emily series (I&rsquo;m currently reading book #4). They&rsquo;re intelligent mysteries that make comments about the social/intellectual restraints of the Victorian time period, while at the same time providing characters and story lines that encourage you, the reader, to further your own knowledge of the events/people/places mentioned. I cannot recommend Tasha Alexander&rsquo;s Lady Emily series enough. It&rsquo;s literally all I&rsquo;ve been talking about for the past two weeks, and I have been recommending it to everyone. They&rsquo;re engaging, intellectual, funny, and sophisticated reads that are sure to please mystery, adventure, and historical fiction fans abound. Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict)
Boldingbroke More than 1 year ago
The Lady Emily series is a delight, and has a number of twists and turns that keep refreshing focus on the mystery at hand.
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Jessica Esposito More than 1 year ago
Book 2 in the Lady Emily series. Great read!
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