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In this thrilling new novel in the New York Times bestselling series, Lady Emily travels to Greece where a ghost from her past returns to haunt her amid the ruins.

Lady Emily retreats to her villa on the island of Santorini for a brief respite from London. But when she arrives, the housekeeper informs her that the master of the house has returned—Emily’s first husband who died a decade earlier...

304 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 11, 2016

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About the author

Tasha Alexander

31 books2,329 followers
The daughter of two philosophy professors, I grew up surrounded by books. I was convinced from an early age that I was born in the wrong century and spent much of my childhood under the dining room table pretending it was a covered wagon. Even there, I was never without a book in hand and loved reading and history more than anything. I studied English Literature and Medieval History at the University of Notre Dame. Writing is a natural offshoot of reading, and my first novel, And Only to Deceive, was published in 2005. I'm the author of the long-running Lady Emily Series as well as the novel Elizabeth: The Golden Age. One of the best parts of being an author is seeing your books translated, and I'm currently in love with the Japanese editions of the Emily books.

I played nomad for a long time, living in Indiana, Amsterdam, London, Wyoming, Vermont, Connecticut, and Tennessee before settling down. My husband, the brilliant British novelist Andrew Grant (I may be biased but that doesn't mean I'm wrong) and I live in southeastern Wyoming. I still don't have a covered wagon, but a log house goes a long way toward fulfilling my pioneer fantasies. Andrew makes sure I get my English characters right, and I make sure his American ones sound American.

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5 stars
598 (22%)
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793 (30%)
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44 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 270 reviews
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews263 followers
October 3, 2016
A Terrible Beauty was my first read in the Lady Emily series but it won’t be my last. No pre-series reading was required to completely enjoy this story…but after reading it, it is a series that I would like to revisit.

Lady Emily decides to take a trip to her deceased 1st husband’s, Lord Philip Ashton’s, villa in Santorini to help him get over a failed engagement. Her husband Colin Hargreaves, Lord Philip Ashton’s best friend, and Emily’s best friend Margaret also join her on this trip.

Quickly after arriving in Santorini, Emily is confronted with Philip alive and a dead man in one of the rooms in the villa. And so the mystery begins…where was Philip all these years, who killed the man in the villa, while Emily struggles to deal with the reemergence of her “dead” husband.

This is a marvelous historical mystery that is not only entertaining but a novel of substance with a good dose of romance and humor as well. Making this a well-balanced, highly entertaining and enjoyable adventure to devour.

I received this ARC copy of A Terrible Beauty from St. Martin's Press - Minotaur Books in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication October 11, 2016.

My Rating: 4 stars

Written by: Tasha Alexander
Series: Lady Emily Mysteries
Sequence in Series: Book 11
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
ISBN-10: 1250058279
ISBN-13: 978-1250058270
Genre: Historical Mystery

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-te...
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Terrible-Beaut...
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-ter...

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Profile Image for Laura.
1,498 reviews34 followers
July 18, 2016
This series has passed the point where it is time to end it and move on. The quality of the books has been declining for the past few entries, and this was my least favorite yet. The plot was lazy and seemed like the kind of plot that proves Alexander has run out of ideas for Emily. The mystery was boring and felt more suited to a novella than a full length novel. I've also felt like Emily has been getting more and more simpering and emotional since midway through the series, and she seemed particularly OOC in this book. I think I'm done with this series for good, which is too bad since the first few books were so enjoyable.

Received from NetGalley in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books334 followers
October 5, 2016
A Terrible Beauty was a curious title, but right in the introduction to the first chapter it is hinted why and primes the reader for what is to come in this latest of the Lady Emily series. Off to Greece, the cradle of Western Civilization, classic culture, phenomenal scenery and breathtaking ruins, go Emily, Colin, and Emily's two best friends all in an effort to distract Jeremy from the disappointment in love he suffered in the last book. I eagerly read on because I loved that this fun group of characters would have their next adventure set in Greece.

A Terrible Beauty is the eleventh book in the series and this is a series that must be read in order. This particular book reflected back to events in the first few along with the one just prior so it's not a good one to try standalone or out of order.

As I said, the story opens with the Hargreaves, Bainbridge and Margaret off for a holiday in the Greek Isles. Colin and Emily usually visit her villa on Santorini every spring, but this year they include friends. Jeremy has no desire to join the London social Season and have simpering young ladies paraded before him in order to snag a duke when he is still recovering from his last nearly trip to the altar.

Their holiday is going along merrily until Emily keeps catching glimpses of Phillip Ashton, her first husband. This should be impossible since Ashton is dead. Only, is he? Arriving at the villa on Santorini, she comes face to face with her past and he brings with him an ill wind. Is he or isn't he Phillip? He knows things that only Phillip would know. Emily and Colin struggle with the 'resurrection' of his best friend and her first husband and all the ramifications it has even as there is now a danger stalking Phillip from his past. A priceless artifact is at the center of it all.

Alright, I had a pretty good idea what this book would be like when I read the blurb. I was uneasy to say the least. I love this series, but I had no desire for it to descend into day-time drama stuff with a husband who was dead suddenly back to complicate matters and I really didn't want to deal with a love-triangle particularly at this late date. But, I will confess, there was a part of me that was curious to see it play out.

A Terrible Beauty was less a suspense and more an adventure and a light one at that. The author's love for Greece and classical Greece civilization shone through Emily's observations, descriptions, and discourses. In fact, much of the story focuses on it. I love archeology so I didn't mind, but I thought I'd give fair warning to those whose eyes glaze over at the thought. The threat of the unscrupulous antiquities dealer and his men made things exciting and intense, but not really suspenseful.

As to the dead husband's return and whether he was legit and how the story would resolve the difficulty of two husbands, I worked out quickly the truth. Not every detail, but enough so that it was just a matter of reading it to see it pan out as expected. I did find it interesting how each player was affected by the situation. Emily confronting such a situation was less of a confident woman and much more emotional. Colin felt threatened, but tried to not add to the trouble. Jeremy and Margaret were stolid friends, but I felt they were de trop for this story much of the time. Although, that said, I was glad they were there to repeatedly remind Emily that this was not just difficult for her and Colin was hurting too. She made a snide remark near the end about it being her house so her decision that I felt was way out of line and it was given a pass because of the situation at the time. But jeez, he treats her as an equal unlike any other man would of the times and she goes there to get her way. Just say you disagree, don't make it about 'my house my rules' game. Okay, done ranting.

But it wasn't just Emily telling the story. Like the last several, she shared the narration with Phillip. His sections were from the past and his side of things from the moment of his 'fake' death to the present. This succeeded in making me rather sympathetic to him even though I had no desire for he and Emily to get back together. And to be fair, the story is told so that the reader knows that Emily is as in love with Colin as ever and has no plans of getting with Phillip.

I won't say this was a bad story because it was moderately good, but in comparison to other Lady Emily stories it will be rather mild. I did change my anticipating when I read the blurb and so didn't get a shocking disappointment like it could have been if I was expecting more suspense and immediate need than I got. So I recommend it, but also recommend that readers keep expectation for exciting elements or a twisty mystery to a lesser degree.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,938 reviews787 followers
October 5, 2016
First I want to say how refreshing it is with a blurb that doesn't give away half the book or some key events. Instead, it just intrigues ones mind with the question: what if Philip didn't die all those years ago? What happened to him, and why would he reveal himself to Emily now?

I have to confess that I struggled with the first book in this series when I read it a little while ago. I wanted to read the first book before I read this book and since I had it on my bookshelf for over one year did I find it was perhaps time for it now. My problem with the first book was that I didn't find the characters nor the story engrossing and I hoped this one would appeal to me a bit more. And, yes in a way it did, but in a way, I still struggled with the characters. Lady Emily isn't really a bad character, she just does not interest me so much. I have nothing against her, she just feels a bit lackluster as an individual. But, I don't mind reading about her. However, I found Colin boring as hell. Sorry, he's just not a person that I like especially much, not in this book nor in the first book. I was actually quite dejected when I read the first book and realized that Emily and Colin were getting cozy. And, now, here in book eleven are married with children. *sigh* Sorry, sometimes some characters just doesn't appeal to me for some reason...

However, I was interested in finding out how it all would turn out. Was this really Philip back from the dead? And, I have to admit, I did like Philip more than Colin (probably the only reader who does). But, then I did like Philip quite a lot in the first book, despite him being "dead".

The mystery of Philip and if he is really Philip, and where he had been was the highlight of the book and the one thing that really made this book interesting to read. I was curious to see how it all would end, and I did not expect that ending. Perhaps it was a bit over the top. But, still, it was surprising...

I want to thank St. Martin's Press for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley!
Profile Image for Empress Reece (Hooked on Books).
915 reviews79 followers
October 11, 2016
This series featuring Lady Emily is another one of my favorite mystery series. If you follow the series too, then you know Lady Emily was married and widowed before she remarried Colin Hargreaves. Well in this installment, Lady Emily, Colin, Jeremy & Margaret go on a holiday to help Jeremy recover from his last relationship disaster. When they arrive at Lady Emily's home in Santorini, Greece, Colin & Lady Emily get a very shocking 'blast from the past' and their plans for a peaceful retreat are thwarted. I can't say much else without giving the entire story away so you'll just have to read it...

After reading this series I always want to hop on a plane. The Greek island setting makes the perfect backdrop for the story. They also visit different ruins, a volcano, an archaeological dig and other historical landmarks so it somewhat satiates my need to travel. I love Margaret and Jeremy too so I was glad they were along for the ride. They always add a nice dose of humor to the story line.

There was plenty of murder, mayhem & mystery to keep me entertained & I'm already looking forward to more adventures with Lady Emily.

*I received this ARC from NetGalley & St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Professional Reader Reviews Published 2016 NetGalley Challenge
723 reviews306 followers
January 11, 2018
(2.5 stars) The idea of this book is a good one. In Alexander's first Lady Emily novel, AND ONLY TO DECEIVE, released in 2005, Emily is a young widow, her husband Philip, Viscount Ashton, dying while on safari in Africa, just months after their marriage. In that book Emily is feeling guilt about not grieving the husband she barely knew, but, by reading his journals, she comes to know him better and falls a little (just at little) in love with him posthumously. She also gets involved in her very first mystery and starts emancipating herself from the constricted life of a Victorian woman. Now, in this latest book, 10 years later, dead Philip is back. That's quite inconvenient, since Emily has been married (supremely happily) to Philip's best friend, Colin Hargreaves, for several years and the two are raising three sons together and solving mysteries.

Emily, Colin, and two of Emily's closest friends that faithful readers of her books are familiar with (Jeremy and Margaret) are in Greece on vacation and Philip shows up, with a rather mysterious 10 past years to account for. He's been working as an archeologist during this time, using the name Philip Chapman, and, apparently, has little interest in reclaiming his former life as a viscount in England. However, his love for Emily is still burning bright but he intends to be "noble" about the whole thing.

Naturally, this being a Lady Emily novel, there's a mystery to solve revolving around Philip and a priceless relic that was found at one of his archeological digs and that everybody, savory and unsavory, wants. Dead and wounded people abound in the story and Emily and Colin find themselves worried about Philip's safety. One would think that just having two husbands at the same time would be enough of a problem for Emily, but Ms Alexander feels the need for more plot so that she can show off her research about Greece, Greek and Roman history and archeology.

Bottom line for me about this story which I almost gave 2 stars is that I did not appreciate several things :

(1) Author Alexander is deceitful in the way she sets up Philip's story, which is in short chapters beginning in 1891 and taking us up to the present (Spring, 1899) that are interspersed throughout the book. She gives the (perhaps inattentive like me?) reader little to go on to help decide what's what with regard to Philip and his life.

(2) I'm starting to find Emily and her friends to be superficial, know-it-all, boring snobs.

(3) SPOILER. (Don't read this if you haven't figured things out already.) Mistaken identities where the impostor looks and behaves enough like the real person to fool that person's best and lifelong friend and that person's wife do not seem credible to me. I kept waiting to read in the final pages that we were at least talking about an illegitimate half-brother but such was not the case. END OF SPOILER.
Profile Image for Angie.
1,097 reviews73 followers
November 11, 2016
3.5 stars

I love Lady Emily and was particularly enchanted with the first several in the series. As it has continued, it's been a little hit and miss for me. This entry, #11, had a great premise. I was so excited to read it. I had a little trouble connecting with the characters once I started it, though. It was a good read, but I felt with the topic it could've been even better. I will put out the disclaimer that I've been in a sort of reading slump, so others may find it a 5 star read. I'm not going to rehash anything, because I feel like anything I say could potentially spoil another's reading experience. If you are a Lady Emily fan, I'd consider it a must-read!
Profile Image for Donna.
1,050 reviews51 followers
October 20, 2016
As with the last book, the alternate POV chapters are unappealing - they both give too much away and make the twist feel cheap and gimmicky. I was also disappointed with the descriptions this time out. The details of Emily's travels used to feel like a real treat, but here I found myself skimming.

More than anything else, I struggled with the premise. There might have been some potential in revisiting Ashton's death, but this slim, breezy story didn't have the emotional heft to carry it off.

Probably a good exit point for the series.
740 reviews55 followers
January 14, 2019

My Rating: 3.5*

I knew it was a matter of time before the spectre of her late husband, Lord Philip Ashton, made his 'appearance' known. How it played out within the pages of this book and on the island of Santorini was interesting.

"One envelope ought not invoke such a pressing sense of ominous foreboding." (quote from the book)

As the book description states, Lady Emily, Colin and Margaret are hoping to distract Jeremy from his heartbreak in the previous book. I must say, Jeremy's dry humour helped to add a bit of levity to the story and to some of the Greek history. Don't get me wrong, I love history, but at times I felt it weighed the story down. However, this is Lady Emily's passion and the author's so it should play a large role in the overall running of this series.

I did enjoy the duality of the story line between Lady Emily and Philip. It really has you wondering how much is true on his part. It also makes you appreciate an archaeologist's passion for his work.
5,607 reviews51 followers
March 29, 2017
Maybe it's me. I did like the rest of this series, but Lady Emily and her oh-so-sexy second husband Colin Hargreaves just didn't captivate me this time out. The author's enthusiasm for the Greek setting seemed to devolve into so much travelogue. Lady Emily is shocked when she visits her villa on Santorini and encounters a man who claims to be her husband--and Colin's former best friend--reportedly dead in Africa many years ago. Alternate chapters describe how her husband was presumed dead, and how he came to this spot, so the reader--as well as the happy couple--accepts the stranger as Philip Ashton who is also, we come to learn, enmeshed with a kingpin of the illegal antiquities trade.
Profile Image for Mary K..
777 reviews
November 29, 2020
The major premise of the storyline is that Achilles and Hector are real people and not Greek myths. If you don’t buy into that idea the plot is sheer nonsense. Does anyone want to buy Harry Potter’s actual Phoenix cored wand for a bargain price?
Profile Image for Jo .
2,623 reviews48 followers
February 21, 2017
It seems that we are going back to book one in the Lady Emily series. Once again it seems like Philip, Lady Emily's first husband is alive. This time it is not a hint but a person who shows up looking and sounding like Philip. It throws both Emily and Colin a big curve. It was interesting to see how both reacted. Neither Emily or Colin want to end their marriage. They are still very much in love and plan to stay together. Philip does not seem to pose too much of a threat to the two but he does come with a mystery and brings danger with him. Is this really Philip or is it someone else? That is not resolved until the end of the book. An interesting addition to the series even though it seems like a re-tread of book one.
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,435 reviews50 followers
October 11, 2016
Dead bodies and Greek relics

This is an important chapter in Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves' life. I'm involved because I know what's gone on up 'til now. I re-live with Emily her feelings, fears and guilt. I must say though that what happens is a brilliant plot twist by Alexander, deserving of the Lady Emily story, and yet I am unsure as to how much the story stands by itself. If this is your first reading of a Lady Emily mystery it certainly points the way back to some intriguing times prior to now. Emily's dead husband Lord Philip Ashton reappears. A terrible shock.
Colin Hargreaves, Ashton's best friend from childhood, is somewhat reserved throughout. Well, who wouldn't be. The ramifications are enormous. I picture Colin as a sophisticated man of his times, working for the British Government on hush hush business, the strong quiet type (still waters running deep etc. etc.) not easily thrown, but this certainly is one of those moments.
Emily has arranged a holiday with her friends Jeremy and Margaret at her villa on the Greek island of Santorini. A villa previously Philip's. The description of the villa, the island and it's people is vivid and real. It was very present.
And now Philip has reappeared on a dig near the villa, being pursued by shadowy characters who want the piece of an important relic, Achilles' helmet, that Philip found. Philip has become obsessed by it and has not revealed it to the dig authorities. In fact he is acting much like Golem acted with the ring. Murder and mayhem follow Philip putting all in danger. Others know of the relic's existence and are willing to kill for it.
The complications of having to deal with the returned husband, who to my mind is unhinged, are enormous. Is Philip's demeanour due to his illness in Africa years ago? Something is definitely off about him. He seems at times delusional, so overcome by obsession with Archilles' helmet, as to be lost to all reason. Hard to say! His attitude towards Emily is almost reverential. All very strange and yet somehow believable.
The story switches rapidly between the past and the present, and between Emily's viewpoint and Philip's. Only towards the end do we see Colin voicing his thoughts.
I loved the cover. Brooding and slightly malevolent, reflecting much that happens.

A NetGalley ARC
Profile Image for Pamela.
1,645 reviews20 followers
November 11, 2016
I have read every book of this series. This one was my least favorite. The mystery of her dead husband returning, kept me reading to make sure her, Colin, and her son's were safe, but the global trek became dull. I know she loves Homer, and Greek antiquities, but all the archaeology, and famous names, and sights described around the globe, by Philip bogged it down. I also got tired of his story, and then their stories, divided by chapters, and different time frames. The mystery was not that engaging for me, and all the answers seemed to constricted. I thought her two friends lightened the book, because Lady Emily certainly cried a lot, and could not cope with things very well, which is not her character. I missed Colin, and Emily. working, and loving each other, and the mystery. This felt awkward, and that the author felt the need to lecture on all things Latin, and Greek. I skipped a lot of those pages, not because I minded learning something I might not know, but Philip would tell you his adventures in his chapters, only to have it all retold when he explained his past ten year absence to the group. It became,a bit annoying for me then, and I just wanted to know who this man , who called himself Philip was, and what he wanted. The ending held little surprise. This one is for you if you want a walk around the globe, covering ten years, and are into the theft of priceless museum pieces. which in my opinion is awful, because those items,belong in museums for the world to enjoy, not secreted away by private, and ruthless collectors. It was just ok for me, and I hope her next book gives us less history, and more love, and mystery.
Profile Image for Laura Carter.
394 reviews
November 2, 2016
This was rather slow moving with little action and hardly any suspense. Never was I on the edge of my seat, worried for any of the characters. I did feel like I was kept guessing about the biggest secret (trying not to give it away) so that's why I am sticking with a 3-star review.
The "romantic" scenes between Colin and Emily are just so weird and awkward. Things like, "He kissed me in a way that made me want to be late for dinner." (Not an exact quote, but close) It was just odd. Just give a modest yet descriptive scene. It is done all the time in a much better way than what has been done in these books recently.
Overall the book was okay, although I don't think there was enough mystery to make it a mystery book, and it was definitely not thrilling. Just entertaining.
Profile Image for Lorraine.
1,035 reviews81 followers
December 9, 2016
Another enjoyable Lady Emily mystery by Tasha Alexander! Having been to Greece, I was truly able to picture myself in many of the places described by Ms. Alexander. Unfortunately though I was unable to visit Santorini. I feel as though I have after reading A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander. Oh, to have a getaway place on this beautiful island of Santorini! This Lady Emily mystery involved archeology at sites inhabited by the ancients which I found fascinating. There is one surprise visitor who throws a wrench into Lady Emily's and her friends stay on Santorini. A good Victorian mystery!
Profile Image for Alisha.
998 reviews64 followers
October 17, 2016
Listened to the audiobook. Very good narrator.
The first half of the book was the best, as the suspense over what was going on with Lady Emily's first husband was well done. The resolution of that plot line felt a bit too pat.
Entertaining light read.
Although, is it weird that I like a secondary character better than the main ones? Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, is amusing, and solidly good though he tries to play the useless idler. But Emily is a bit too smug and her husband Colin is wooden.
Profile Image for Nan Williams.
1,440 reviews72 followers
June 1, 2017
I don’t know about a “Terrible Beauty,” but this is a terrible (or terribly conceived) book. This is my first by Tasha Alexander and it will be my last. Let me tell you why.

The first 38 pages were enough for me. The story opens with our protagonist, Lady Emily, at the funeral of her husband of just a few months. He had died while on a safari in Africa. We’re told that Emily is obligated to 2 years of mourning in Victorian England. However, in the next chapter we find her not only married to her husband’s best friend, but with 3 children by him. Emily and Colin (new hubby) take the children to the zoo. The ages of the children are not told, but the activities at zoo (leaving a child – alone - to look at the terrariums, having a child take a camel ride, etc.) would indicate that the children are, at least, grammar school age. OK. So I’m assuming at least 10 years have passed since the opening scene – the funeral. I’m assuming 2 years of mourning, 1 year of engagement and 7 years of marriage to produce 3 children old enough now to be able to be on their own at the zoo, right?

The last chapter I read, ending on page 38, told about the “death” of the first husband, Lord Ashton. It seems that he was poisoned while on the safari, taken for dead and casketed by his best friend (who later married his wife). BUT … his Masai friend knew he wasn’t really dead and removed him from the casket before it left for England. His Masai friend wrapped the body of a dead Masai warrior in linen and substituted that in the casket. However, the Masai didn’t weigh nearly so much as the Englishman so our crafty Masai added rocks to the casket for weight. Obviously, no one in England opened the casket nor even questioned the contents.

Still with me? Our Englishman recovers and tries to go back home in about 3 years. He encounters all sorts of problems since he’s been declared dead, but that’s not the problem I have with the book. He makes it to England (and later to Greece) still within this 3 year time frame and finds his wife married to his best friend and with 3 children!!

Did the author or the editor not think this time line through? This is absurd. Give me a story line with a time line that’s at least halfway reasonable.

For all of those who gave this book 4 and 5* ratings, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I guess it improves, but I’m done here!
Profile Image for Julia.
687 reviews
January 28, 2019
The eleventh in the Lady Emily series, "A Terrible Beauty" was okay. I enjoyed the first half of the book much more than the second half. I'm not sure why it was called "A Terrible Beauty" and for a book that took place largely on Santorini, the Parthenon should not grace the cover. Unfortunately, Tasha Alexander (or her editor) contributed to one of my biggest pet peeves: capitalization errors. In particular, throughout the book Alexander kept capitalizing "ancient." For example, "I love Ancient Greece," "I learned Ancient Greek," or "I'm fascinated by Ancient Thera." With a PhD in classical archaeology, I think I can say that in normal sentences like those, "ancient" should not be capitalized.

The series is losing a little steam for me. My favorite was two books ago, "The Counterfeit Heiress," so I'm hoping the twelfth is a good one or else I might be done.
578 reviews1 follower
October 29, 2017
What better to do on a damp and rainy day but reading a good book! This book was quintessential Tasha Alexander! The return of a presumed dead husband and the gorgeous setting of Santorini to boot! I could not put it down. Lady Emily is a victorian age woman much to be admired!
Profile Image for Nancy Haddock.
Author 8 books403 followers
February 15, 2018
This one really, really kept me guessing, and I loved every word. I'm only bummed because I've now caught up with every book in this series. Clamoring for more now!
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Miss Eliza).
2,246 reviews138 followers
November 21, 2018
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during Alexander Autumn (October-November 2018)

First there was the letter addressed to The Viscountess Ashton. Then there was someone calling Philip's name at the zoo. Then there was Philip's journal placed on her desk. A man on the boat to Greece looked just like Philip. At the Acropolis someone in the dark called out té kallisté, something only Philip would do. By the time she arrived at the villa in Santorini Emily was well prepared for the impossible, the return of her first husband Philip, the Viscount Ashton. Never mind that he died over a decade ago, she would recognize those piercing blue eyes anywhere, though his nose does look a little different. Emily had concocted this trip to Greece as a way to distract her dearest friend Jeremy from the heartbreak and attempted murder at the hands of his fiance, Amity Wells. Little did she know it would prove such a distraction with her first husband back from the dead! Jeremy takes it in stride, it's just another blow to him ever winning Emily, before he had just the one husband to contend with, now there are two! As for Emily's second husband Colin, he is almost more shell-shocked than she. Here is his dearest friend in all the world returned to him and he has betrayed him by marrying Emily, the love of both of their lives. There are so many ramifications. Is Colin and Emily's marriage valid? What about the legitimacy of their two children? Is the villa even Emily's? And the guilt! But none of that matters because Philip has arrived with a shadow looming over him.

Philip insists that after learning of Emily and Colin being happily married that he vowed he would never intrude on their new life together. He has in fact built a new life for himself. Without the largess that came with his title he has had to earn a living and has become a rather decent archeologist. A job he has come to love. In fact he's been working on a site on Santorini for the past few years. He says that his not coming to Emily sooner, despite their proximity, proves his honorable intentions. The only reason he has appeared now is that his fellow archeologist was injured during a storm the night before Emily's arrival and the only place he could think to take him to get medical attention was the villa. Sadly his friend died and Philip's secret has been revealed. Though the inhabitants of the villa soon learn that it is not the only secret Philip has. There are some shady men following Philip and soon he reveals a story that is almost more incredible then his survival in Africa after everyone presumed him dead. Years earlier at a dig near the remains of Troy he found what he believes to be part of Achilles's helmet. The local working with Philip stole it and turned up dead the next day. Ever since then a crooked dealer in antiquities, Demir, has been following and harassing Philip. Demir and his Turkish henchmen have arrived on the island and Philip's life is in danger. Only Emily isn't sure she buys the story. If this is Philip he would never have let anything connected to Achilles out of his sight... Is it possible to put her guilt aside and find out the truth?

A Terrible Beauty is almost like a reset on the Lady Emily series. We're going back to the beginning, back to And Only to Deceive and seeing everything from a different angle. This isn't just "Philip's" story and his perspective on events but also another side to the world of antiquities. Emily reading Philip's journals after his death led to her becoming not just a Greek scholar but a lover of the antiquities that her late husband collected. This is the cornerstone to Emily's journey of discovering and the life and collection she builds over the years. Yet for all her love of antiquities we the readers have only seen certain aspects of this one word that encompasses so much. Antiquities covers the history, the excavation, the cataloging, the restoring, the purchasing, the forging, the collecting, the exhibiting, so many things under one banner. For all her talk of ruins and walking the remains of Troy this is the first book in which Emily's story takes us truly beyond the confines of the museum and the country houses and we get to see an excavation. Oh, and the archaeological sites we see through "Philip's" journey, I felt that at times I was reading an Elizabeth Peters novel about the exploits of Amelia Peabody. But what I found fascinating is that the archaeological work makes sense in regards to Philip's personality. He always relished the hunt, be it on safari or dealing with antiquities brokers, and here he is digging through the very earth in search of buried treasure.

This is why I wanted to be an archeologist for about a hot minute, the buried treasure. But my true love was in making art and no matter how many art history or anthropology courses I took this would never change. Though to truly understand art you need to understand it's history, which is why I took so many art history courses. A Terrible Beauty, besides throwing us back to the beginning of Emily's story took me on a bit of a time warp as well. I was having all these feelings about my first semester in college. SO many things combined to make me oddly nostalgic. One of my friends decided to go back to school and hearing her talk about midterms and finals is giving me all the feels. And with Thanksgiving I was dwelling on how I used that small respite from going to class to catch up on school work, even going so far as to be the odd one out at family gatherings sitting in a corner with flashcards drilling dates for the upcoming finals. Also this fall has been exceedingly cold and one thing that stuck with me from undergrad is that I was always constantly cold. No matter how many layers I put on the Wisconsin weather would defy it. It was twenty-one years ago that I took my first art history course that covered the ancient to medieval world, therefore covering both Greece and Rome. So when Emily was at the Acropolis I was giddy because I knew this! I somehow STILL knew this! It was locked away in the fog of time and cold and flashcards and yet it came back in an instant.

So A Terrible Beauty ended up not being just about Emily dealing with all these emotions and her past but in me going through the same experience on an entirely different level. This book became very personal to me and had me thinking about days gone by. In thinking about your own past, if you're one to overthink things, you start to think about the greater world, and as we're dealing with Emily, the history of ancient civilizations. What I'm getting at is specifically about the art we have left over from these civilizations. The gorgeous white marble statues and ruins that still thankfully stand. Yet in a bizarre coincidence The New Yorker just published an article on the fact that the art we look at and admire is nothing like what those in ancient Greece or Rome admired. Because all statuary, buildings, what-have-you, they were fully painted. Emily actually makes a reference to this when talking to Jeremy at the Acropolis and I was all, I JUST READ AN ARTICLE ON THAT! Yes, I know Emily and Jeremy couldn't hear me, but I just found it such a random coincidence that I couldn't not comment to fictional characters in a book who can't hear me. If you click on the link to the article you'll see what some of the most famous sculptures might have looked like and it's jarring. We are so used to "The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture" that to see marble covered in kind of cartoony paint makes you realize that sometimes an unfinished look has much more elegance. And now I'm thinking about naked cakes. Thanks Great British Bake Off.

With all this dwelling on the past I find it interesting that all those years ago and even just this past spring when I re-read And Only to Deceive I was 100% firmly in the camp of wanting Philip to somehow be alive. Yes, there would be problems to solve, so many problems, and perhaps Emily would no longer be the wife he had married, but I was sure they would work it out if only he wasn't dead. And here he is! Not dead! And while I would have given anything for Philip to return ten books ago now I was all go away foul demon back to the hell which spawned you! I am under no circumstance going to address the is he/isn't he actually Philip here because, spoilers people, but I am totally going to talk about how his reappearance made me feel, and that was not good. It's interesting how one changes over time. I have been on a long journey with Emily and Colin, going through all their ups and downs and heartbreaks. I've seen them fall in love, fight, make up, get married, and have children. I've witnessed how they have found a balance to working together, relying on each others skills and instincts, knowing when to step aside and knowing when to step in. They have this life they have built together and one person could bring it crashing down. This isn't like now when a divorce and re-marriage could solve things, there's the fact that women were viewed as property and a legitimate heir was needed. Therefore I say this once again, Philip begone!

My not feeling good about Philip's reappearance is nothing to how Emily and Colin feel! Not just the fact that their lives are crashing down around them, but the fact that they feel their guilt anew. During their courtship I don't think I'd ever really thought about how their falling in love must feel. They have always been perfect for each other so after Philip shuffled off this mortal coil it was only natural that they would be thrown together. They are, in my mind, relationship goals. They perfectly compliment each other and are so in love. Yet their love came at a cost; Philip's life. Philip being dead meant they and I didn't over-analyze the fact that Colin was Philip's best friend and Emily was his wife. They both cared for him but in the end his death lead to their happily ever after. Yet in A Terrible Beauty they have to face this fact all over again. And they aren't dealing with nebulous ideas of what Philip would think from beyond the grave, here he is at their villa staring them down across the sitting room and they feel instant shame. How could they have done this to Philip's memory? How could they find love and happiness out of his demise? How could they have not known he was alive all these years living a harsh life while they lived in connubial bliss? This guilt and shame hang over Emily and Colin like a dark cloud. The fact that to their faces Philip is being so magnanimous makes it even worse. How can they be forgiven? Or will the guilt stay long after Philip is gone from their lives one way or another? Perhaps the answer lies in Death in St. Petersburg!
Profile Image for Cyn McDonald.
631 reviews4 followers
September 28, 2017
I did not like this one as well as some of the others. After ten years, Philip Ashton has returned from Africa alive - or has he? Lots of Greek scenery and Greek archaeology, but the story just didn't sit quite right.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Nordquest.
1,028 reviews4 followers
August 24, 2021
I took a long (non-intentional) Lady Emily break and it's good to be back! I loved the appearance of Philip and kind of wished the ending was a little different... Maybe a new member of the crew. (ha!) This might be a fun one to re-read to look for clues. I enjoyed the flashbacks to life before Colin+Emily and the setting was as glamorous as always.
Profile Image for Emily.
92 reviews6 followers
April 5, 2022
I really, really, REALLY hoped that the Lady Emily Series would get better - or at least stay as interesting as its opening number, And Only To Deceive. That first book had some genuine pieces of interest: a slightly unique protagonist (although a little cliche in her "modernity"), a promising cast of female sidekicks, a refreshingly unique and academic angle in the central theme of Greek antiquities, and of course, a dashing romantic lead in the person of Colin Hargreaves. You won't have missed that he's handsome; he never appears on the page without a corresponding adjective or description of his sheer attractiveness. Listen, I'm not complaining too much about that. I want a Colin.

But unfortunately, the weak points of the series have become more prevalent, and its strengths have become a little boring. Emily has become an out-and-out Mary Sue: at one point, a character describes her "angelic, silvery soprano" and I think I spit out my wine. The Greek antiquities have become strained, too; and the plots - my God, the plots! (ARE there plots, one asks? Excellent question. I don't know.) This one had to be the most tenuous of all. And the cast of strong female sidekicks has morphed into a veritable roaming aristocratically-entitled Scooby Doo gang, including the addition of a perpetually lovesick Jeremy Bainbridge. (Because all men must be in love with Lady Emily, of course). They just stumble across corpses. Constantly. And they don't have the tongue-in-cheek humor of Amelia Peabody and co to explain this ("Another dead body, Sitt. Every year, another dead body.") The villains are just as one-sided and maniacally evil, too.

Emily and co aren't without redemption! I still think there's so much of interest at the core of this series. Alexander is a talented writer; her sentences flow well, and she's got a great sense of humor. Emily's an interesting heroine (if only we could stop tripping over men in love with her), and of course Colin is perfection. I like the Greek history angle! It keeps the stories from being just another Victorian genre novel. And too many of these Victorian era genre novels aren't well-written, but Alexander is, in fact, a good writer.

But her plots have become worn and slapdash, and these latest stories don't feel fresh at all. I keep waiting for a new, interesting plot - something unique - and I don't find it. The addition of the second narrative just makes it worse. So often, as a series gets stale, authors try to do more. More characters! More narrative devices! Explosions! It very rarely works; instead, it's just noise.

I will, however, say that A Terrible Beauty's plot MIGHT have been interesting. I was definitely intrigued and hooked at first. It went south quickly, but the premise seemed to promise more of what I first found interesting about the Lady Emily series - the intriguing angle of Emily falling in love with her dead husband after he'd passed, then his best friend.

Fingers crossed that the next installment brings us something more interesting that, at its heart, takes us back to what made the Lady Emily Series so unique and refreshing in the first place. I look forward to reading it!
Profile Image for Victoria.
508 reviews4 followers
March 5, 2017
Another excellent story in the Lady Emily series. I enjoy that the mystery wasn't a whodoneit or involved a gruesome murder (right away). I really enjoyed the use of established characters instead of just Emily and Colin in a new locale. I was very curious and pleased with the story!!
993 reviews6 followers
February 14, 2017
In this most recent Lady Emily adventure, Emily has organized a trip to Greece for longtime friend, Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, to help him get over his devastating love affair in the previous book. Traveling with husband, Colin, and her friend Margaret, also a classical scholar, this should be a fun, relaxing, and informative holiday for all of them as they visit ancient ruins and enjoy the magnificent villa at Santorini. However, upon arrival, they find unexpected guests seeking refuge from a dangerous storm the night before, are already there, one of them badly injured. But the most astonishing thing is that these men have been led there by Lord Philip Ashton, Emily's first husband who died a decade ago. Yes, I said Emily's deceased first husband! After the shock, Emily and Colin are desperate to know where Philip has been all of this time and if it is really Philip. There unfolds an unusual tale about Philip's disappearance, his re-emergence, disappointment in finding his bst friend had married his wife, and decision to spend his life as an archaeologist. Of course this story bears investigating fraught with danger, death, and a mixture of emotions.

Alexander does a wonderful job of creating a mysterious air, confusion, and sympathy in her characters. Her descriptions of Santorini, the villa, and the local village are beyond compare. Everytime I read one of her books, I want to travel to the place she is writing about.
Profile Image for Billie.
930 reviews79 followers
December 24, 2016
It's always a treat to spend time with Emily and Colin but the poor dears now have the added burden of filling an Amelia-and-Emerson-shaped hole in my reading. Thankfully, they're witty and intelligent enough to be up to the task.

But, please, can we talk about those covers? They just really don't do the series justice.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
1,086 reviews52 followers
May 30, 2018
That was... weird. And I can't talk about it without spoiling it, so under the "Spoiler" buffer it goes.

I didn't hate it. But probably not my top favorite of the Lady Emily books. After the initial shock of Emily's dead first husband showing up, that aspect of the story was kind of awkward. And Philip expected her to still be in love with him, when she never really was (at least, not before he died). She just married him because it was the thing to do (also, to appease her overbearing mother). But Philip's adoration of Emily was too much (with that irritating nickname he has for her - sorry, but after eleven books plus a couple of short stories, "Kallista" just does not suit Lady Emily as a nickname. It's way too pretentious for her. I've never bought into it, outside of Cecile using it. And that's because Cecile does what she likes). It's like he was expecting an unchanged statue to come running back to him, never mind that ten years have passed in the story and Emily's moved on and has her own little family.

Nope. I firmly ship Emily and Colin. That could be why I was uneasy with this story and why I felt such relief and finding out that "Philip" wasn't actually Emily's deceased first husband - he was actually an impostor. I wish Team Emily had figured that out before and tried to work it out. Though I suspect Colin was doing so behind the scenes and Emily was too shell-shocked to follow that line of thinking herself (can't blame her, honestly. She may be intelligent and fiercely independent, but there's is only one response to someone long thought dead walking back in the door. Well... two responses, but this isn't a zombie story).

It was fine enough for what it was.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,613 reviews75 followers
December 13, 2017
I think I'm losing my patience with this series.

I was looking forward to this one too! We finally get to go to Santorini with Lady Emily and company: Colin, Jeremy, Margaret. And the idea of Philip, her first husband, making a reappearance after eleven (I believe) long years of being thought dead? Well, get me the popcorn, I'm ready to watch some drama.

But: Tasha Alexander yet AGAIN decided that she wanted to put another POV into the book- this time Philip's. And I have grown to distrust her second POVs after reading two or three other books that she's done with them. They are, frankly, generally just a cheat- both to lengthen her books and to misdirect the reader. You can't trust them, and at this point, knowing that, it gives the game away. I was annoyed at having to read something that I KNEW was a lie just in case there was some pertinent information there. I've spoilered this so that you know going in that I'm giving away information- in this case that Philip is an imposter. But the author did the exact same thing at the beginning of her book!

While it was poignant to read about Lady Emily becoming distraught at the reappearance of her first husband, I couldn't settle into the flow of the story. Santorini didn't really come alive for me. I know that this series is up-and-down. At this point, about half my ratings for the series are good and about half are so-so. I'll probably give it another book or two, but I'd like to see better. Although I understand the author's desire to explore further afield than England, I think I actually like her books set in England the best.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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