by Tasha Alexander
I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program just before the holidays. Before I read it (post-holidays), I had no idea it was the fourth book in a series. To her credit, the author has written a story that stands on its own. The fact that the two main characters, Lady Emily Bromley Ashton Hargreaves and her husband Colin, are on their honeymoon in the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) was the first indicator that another book might have preceded this one.
The book is also interspersed with various letters Emily receives from friends and family that didn't make a lot of sense to me until I read other reviews of this book and found they were from characters in previous books. I found the appearance of friend Margaret in the midst of the honeymoon to be rather unbelievable. But then, the whole idea of the couple working to solve a mystery while on this so-called honeymoon is rather far-fetched, as is the idea that a woman like Emily would have so much freedom in 1892, particularly while in the Ottoman Empire.
The reason, of course, that Emily must solve this mystery is that it occurs in the sultan's harem, and her husband cannot go in to interview witnesses. The behavior of the sultan, his wives/concubines, and a eunuch did not seem realistic to me, particularly the fact that they could speak English (today, maybe yes; 1892, probably not), and that they would be willing to speak to an outsider at all.
The descriptions were good and Alexander gave me a feel for what Constantinople (Istanbul today) looked like. The flirting between Emily and Colin was enjoyable. The ending, however, was disappointing. This was a fun beach-read type of book, but I'm not interested in reading the three prior books in the series nor any to follow.
[Since this is a hardbound copy, it will be donated to the library to either be added to the collection or sold in the fund-raising book sale.]
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