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In the next Lady Emily Mystery, The Dark Heart of Florence, critically acclaimed author Tasha Alexander transports readers to the legendary city of Florence, where Lady Emily and Colin must solve a murder with clues leading back to the time of the Medici. In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by In the next Lady Emily Mystery, The Dark Heart of Florence, critically acclaimed author Tasha Alexander transports readers to the legendary city of Florence, where Lady Emily and Colin must solve a murder with clues leading back to the time of the Medici. In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves. An agent of the Crown, Colin carries the weight of the Empire, but his focus is drawn to Italy by a series of burglaries at his daughter's palazzo in Florence--burglaries that might have international ramifications. He and Emily travel to Tuscany where, soon after their arrival, a stranger is thrown to his death from the roof onto the marble palazzo floor. Colin's trusted colleague and fellow agent, Darius Benton-Stone, arrives to assist Colin, who insists their mission must remain top secret. Finding herself excluded from the investigation, Emily secretly launches her own clandestine inquiry into the murder, aided by her spirited and witty friend, C�cile. They soon discover that the palazzo may contain a hidden treasure dating back to the days of the Medici and the violent reign of the fanatic monk, Savonarola--days that resonate in the troubled early twentieth century, an uneasy time full of intrigue, duplicity, and warring ideologies. Emily and C�cile race to untangle the cryptic clues leading them through the Renaissance city, but an unimagined danger follows closely behind. And when another violent death puts Emily directly in the path of a killer, there's much more than treasure at stake...


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In the next Lady Emily Mystery, The Dark Heart of Florence, critically acclaimed author Tasha Alexander transports readers to the legendary city of Florence, where Lady Emily and Colin must solve a murder with clues leading back to the time of the Medici. In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by In the next Lady Emily Mystery, The Dark Heart of Florence, critically acclaimed author Tasha Alexander transports readers to the legendary city of Florence, where Lady Emily and Colin must solve a murder with clues leading back to the time of the Medici. In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves. An agent of the Crown, Colin carries the weight of the Empire, but his focus is drawn to Italy by a series of burglaries at his daughter's palazzo in Florence--burglaries that might have international ramifications. He and Emily travel to Tuscany where, soon after their arrival, a stranger is thrown to his death from the roof onto the marble palazzo floor. Colin's trusted colleague and fellow agent, Darius Benton-Stone, arrives to assist Colin, who insists their mission must remain top secret. Finding herself excluded from the investigation, Emily secretly launches her own clandestine inquiry into the murder, aided by her spirited and witty friend, C�cile. They soon discover that the palazzo may contain a hidden treasure dating back to the days of the Medici and the violent reign of the fanatic monk, Savonarola--days that resonate in the troubled early twentieth century, an uneasy time full of intrigue, duplicity, and warring ideologies. Emily and C�cile race to untangle the cryptic clues leading them through the Renaissance city, but an unimagined danger follows closely behind. And when another violent death puts Emily directly in the path of a killer, there's much more than treasure at stake...

30 review for The Dark Heart of Florence

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: Lady Emily Ashton Mysteries #15 Publication Date: 3/9/21 Number of Pages: 304 Tensions are mounting between Germany and England in the buildup to the first World War. Each wants to collect the secrets the other side is holding and the rest of Europe is their hunting ground. After a series of burglaries at his daughter Kat’s palazzo in Florence, Colin Hargreaves is sent by the Crown to investigate those and other mysterious events happening there. Colin is advised to bring his wife, Lady Emi Series: Lady Emily Ashton Mysteries #15 Publication Date: 3/9/21 Number of Pages: 304 Tensions are mounting between Germany and England in the buildup to the first World War. Each wants to collect the secrets the other side is holding and the rest of Europe is their hunting ground. After a series of burglaries at his daughter Kat’s palazzo in Florence, Colin Hargreaves is sent by the Crown to investigate those and other mysterious events happening there. Colin is advised to bring his wife, Lady Emily, along to make it appear it is simply a family sightseeing vacation. Little do they know what a tangled web of deceit and betrayal they are about to embark upon. They hadn’t even had time for their first cup of tea in Florence before the first body made its bloody appearance. As agents of the Crown, Colin and his fellow agent, Darius Benton-Stone, couldn’t share any details of their investigation with the very curious Lady Emily. No problem, since Lady Emily has brought along a friend, Parisian Cecile du Lac, they will just conduct their own investigation. Of course, there is an intriguing possibility of hidden treasure that Emily and Cecile will look into as well. Between investigating murders, hidden treasure, and sightseeing Emily and Cecile are a very busy pair! As the bodies mount and the separate investigations become more and more entwined, it becomes apparent that the treasure and the murders are connected in some way. Who has the knowledge to carry out such a dastardly plot? Well, you’ll just have to read the tale to see for yourself. In the last few books of this series, the author has included an additional story from ancient history. That story ties into and/or explains the happenings in the current story. In this one, the story takes place in 1400s Florence. It chronicles the life of Mena Portenari from the time she is sixteen under the de’ Medici rule and then into terror evoking rule of friar Savonarola. It is a sad tale of victimization and heroism, but it does explain parts of the current case. While the ancient stories are nice, it has become a bit of a trope for this author. It does get a little tiresome jumping from the current mystery to the ancient mystery in each chapter, even though both stories are well done. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I hope you will as well. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    In recent books Alexander' has played a little game of switching from a story in the past to what's going on in Emily's present. It hasn't worked well. I've read authors where it does, but not here Emily's character now seems to have been phoned in,.Celeste has become incredibly annoying--she needs to drink less champagne and stop calling Emily "Kallista," and Colin is a boring cypher. There just wasn't enough here to hold my undivided attention. I think I am through with this series and probabl In recent books Alexander' has played a little game of switching from a story in the past to what's going on in Emily's present. It hasn't worked well. I've read authors where it does, but not here Emily's character now seems to have been phoned in,.Celeste has become incredibly annoying--she needs to drink less champagne and stop calling Emily "Kallista," and Colin is a boring cypher. There just wasn't enough here to hold my undivided attention. I think I am through with this series and probably was already done with them several books back.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rena McGrath

    A fascinating novel, much more than a mystery story. Using the backdrop of the beautiful city of Florence Ms. Alexander takes us on a journey through large segments of the city's turbulent saga during the Renaissance and the brief but deadly reign of Friar Savanarola and his bands of thugs in their quest to destroy all of the ancient literature, Renaissance art depicting classical mythology and the Florentines' fight to preserve them for posterity. While Emily, Colin and Darius are sent to Flore A fascinating novel, much more than a mystery story. Using the backdrop of the beautiful city of Florence Ms. Alexander takes us on a journey through large segments of the city's turbulent saga during the Renaissance and the brief but deadly reign of Friar Savanarola and his bands of thugs in their quest to destroy all of the ancient literature, Renaissance art depicting classical mythology and the Florentines' fight to preserve them for posterity. While Emily, Colin and Darius are sent to Florence on a "vacation" but in actuality to work for the Crown as well as solve a number of brutal seemingly at first unconnected murders, Emily and her friend Cecile du Lac are conducting their own parallel investigation into the murders as well as the legend of a hidden treasure in the palazzo in which they are staying.. I won't divulge the culprit as this would be a spoiler for future readers. But let me just say this is a wonderful novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. I received an advanced copy for my unbiased opinion and give thanks to Net Galley, St. Martin's Press and in particular Tasha Alexander.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Krishna Shah

    I read this ARC through Netgallery. Thank you very much for giving me an advance copy to read and review. The book takes place in Florence and concerns a mystery of hidden treasure with some British spying. I truly love the relationship between Colin and Lady Emily. They are a good marriage of minds and even with the events that happened in the previous book the marriage is strong. The mystery is entertaining. But I loved the way that you got to learn about Florence not just in Lady Emily’s time I read this ARC through Netgallery. Thank you very much for giving me an advance copy to read and review. The book takes place in Florence and concerns a mystery of hidden treasure with some British spying. I truly love the relationship between Colin and Lady Emily. They are a good marriage of minds and even with the events that happened in the previous book the marriage is strong. The mystery is entertaining. But I loved the way that you got to learn about Florence not just in Lady Emily’s time but in 1400s. The writing brought the city in front of my eyes. So why didn’t I give it 5 stars. I like the way she weaves the stories from the past to the “present” but it seems there was more past than what Emily was doing. I like the going back and forth but the past is quite depressing most of the times. You know the person described is going to have an ending that you will not like. I would have liked to see more of Emily and Cecile doing their sleuthing. Plus what is wrong with seeing a little bit more of what Colin does? I know the story is told from Emily’s perspective but sometimes I really want to know what he does when he goes off somewhere. How is it that he doesn’t figure things out as quickly as Emily if he has all this experience?? Having said all that, I did enjoy reading this book. I love Emily or Kallista. Her sharp mind and the way she pieces things together are fun to read. There are always multiple things going on that somehow the author figures out a way to tie them together. So give it a read for sure.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I have read all of Tasha Alexander’s books and I’m sorry to say this was the worst one. At first, I had a hard time getting interested in the story, I had to drag myself through the first part of the book. You will be able to guess who the villain is very early on in the story, the foreshadowing that the author used was very obvious. Lady Emily and her husband Colin’s relationship in this book was boring compared to previous books, they usually have great adventures together and throughout this I have read all of Tasha Alexander’s books and I’m sorry to say this was the worst one. At first, I had a hard time getting interested in the story, I had to drag myself through the first part of the book. You will be able to guess who the villain is very early on in the story, the foreshadowing that the author used was very obvious. Lady Emily and her husband Colin’s relationship in this book was boring compared to previous books, they usually have great adventures together and throughout this story until the end everything was separate. In Tasha Alexander’s other books she builds on the characters making you want to cheer on Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves, but in this book the characters were more flat then usual. There were too many people with secrets, and Colin not letting his wife in on his knowledge while she shared hers seemed ridiculous. By now, the head of the Agent’s of the Crown (Colin’s superior) should know that it’s Emily’s keen awareness, intelligence and extensive education that helps her find the answers to solve the murders. The fact that the Author kept Emily out of the official secrets was definitely a let down, especially since they often refer to Kat’s mother, The Countess as a former agent for Austria (it’s a bit annoying that she was a spy, but not someone as talented as Emily???). I did enjoy learning more about the history of Florence and I liked Mina’s story from the 1400’s. I loved the first books from this series and I’m hopeful Tasha Alexander may make the next book more exciting. 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen Hollins-Stallman

    The Dark Heart of Florence is the 15th instalment in the A Lady Emily Mysteries by Tasha Alexander. This is the first book I have read by Tasha Alexander and won’t be my last. I found it to be a quick easy read and finished in one day, I really enjoyed the dual narratives telling us the story of Mina in the late 15th century to lady Emily in the early 20th century in the idyllic setting of Florence, Italy. The mystery is interesting and well plotted, and I loved the characters of Lady Emily and The Dark Heart of Florence is the 15th instalment in the A Lady Emily Mysteries by Tasha Alexander. This is the first book I have read by Tasha Alexander and won’t be my last. I found it to be a quick easy read and finished in one day, I really enjoyed the dual narratives telling us the story of Mina in the late 15th century to lady Emily in the early 20th century in the idyllic setting of Florence, Italy. The mystery is interesting and well plotted, and I loved the characters of Lady Emily and Cecile. I kept guessing and second-guessing myself on whodunnit right to the very end. I recommend this book to all my mystery lover friends. I requested and received an advance reader copy of this book from Minotaur and Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    As usual in this series, two alternating storylines create a nicely paced mystery as the reader tries to deduce how and when the two stories from different centuries will intertwine. However, the story from the Renaissance age felt a bit same-old, same-old next to similar plotlines from the author's other books. Lady Emily is always ahead of her time, but it's gotten more plausible as she's gotten older with more experience under her belt. This book was a fast, easy read, although all the spy/"se As usual in this series, two alternating storylines create a nicely paced mystery as the reader tries to deduce how and when the two stories from different centuries will intertwine. However, the story from the Renaissance age felt a bit same-old, same-old next to similar plotlines from the author's other books. Lady Emily is always ahead of her time, but it's gotten more plausible as she's gotten older with more experience under her belt. This book was a fast, easy read, although all the spy/"service to the Crown" content never felt fully fleshed out. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this digital review copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Florence is a fabulous setting choice for this book, so rich in culture, beauty and history. Tasha Alexander's descriptions and storytelling really made this story come alive! It's been awhile since I've been to Florence but I could envision and feel the atmosphere and many places depicted in this fun dual-timeline mystery. The historical Renaissance elements described are fascinating and informative such as Brunelleschi's mindblowing dome, Dante's levels of hell as well as political feuds, bonu Florence is a fabulous setting choice for this book, so rich in culture, beauty and history. Tasha Alexander's descriptions and storytelling really made this story come alive! It's been awhile since I've been to Florence but I could envision and feel the atmosphere and many places depicted in this fun dual-timeline mystery. The historical Renaissance elements described are fascinating and informative such as Brunelleschi's mindblowing dome, Dante's levels of hell as well as political feuds, bonuses sprinkled throughout the book, perfect for developing marvelous atmosphere. In 1903 Lady Emily and her husband Colin travel to Tuscany to investigate breakins at his daughter's home but of course discover far, far more, including murder. While Colin and his friend/colleague Darius focus on solving mysteries, Lady Emily and her friend Cecile do some digging of their own, unafraid, always keen for adventure. What fun to see their differing approaches, lively humour and banter! We are also told about secrets the characters withhold from each other. The second timeline is the 15th century, Renaissance Florence, the age of enlightenment. We are taken on a journey through Mina's life which is full of heartache and difficult choices. Her secrets are linked to those in the later timeline, beautifully done. Those in and out of her life are described in vivid detail making compelling reading. Perspectives from both periods are etched out nicely. Though Florence goes through changes over the centuries, she remains the same at heart, as do people. At the end of each chapter I was eager to reach the next. Both timelines were entrancing and riveting, each as good as the other. There is a lot going on here but seamlessly done as the author captures each character and detail wonderfully. If you enjoy Historical Fiction with mysterious twists and turns, this book should be on your list. My sincere thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this delightful book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    Tasha Alexander’s 15th volume in the Lady Emily Mystery series, ‘The Dark Heart of Florence’, is a historical mystery masterpiece! Alexander has created two intriguing stories, one in the 1480s and the other in the early 1900s, which, when woven together, culminate in the most surprising manner. Grab a bottle of prosecco because you’ll soon realize you are in for the long haul; you’ll “find yourself innamorato with Firenze” and lose all track of time. How lovely to be able to eagerly sip and rea Tasha Alexander’s 15th volume in the Lady Emily Mystery series, ‘The Dark Heart of Florence’, is a historical mystery masterpiece! Alexander has created two intriguing stories, one in the 1480s and the other in the early 1900s, which, when woven together, culminate in the most surprising manner. Grab a bottle of prosecco because you’ll soon realize you are in for the long haul; you’ll “find yourself innamorato with Firenze” and lose all track of time. How lovely to be able to eagerly sip and read through all 320 pages. Buona lettura! Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves are in Florence under false pretenses; on the surface, this couple appear to be on holidays, but as a trusted agent of the Crown, Colin is investigating a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo. In usual Lady Emily style, she finds every opportunity to do some sleuthing on her own and discovers some hidden treasures from the time of the Medici and the violent reign of Savonarola. Mina Portinari’s story begins when she is a beautiful 16-year-old who has been given a rare education by her grandparents. They see to it that she learns Latin and Greek, socializes with the Medicis, reads books by authors such as Dante and Petrarch, and dines with the likes of Botticelli. Unfortunately, she garners the attention of someone who causes her heartache, and this forbidden love has far-reaching ramifications. Although a heartbreaking story, Mina will not be forgotten in her attempts to preserve history for generations of booklovers in the future. This is my first Tasha Alexander novel and I’m hooked. I absolutely love learning as I read and she has managed to combine my love of history with the culture of one of my favourite cities, Florence, into a superbly written masterpiece. I loved adding to my knowledge of Savonarola and learning about the Arrabbiati, the Bands of Hope, and the Piagnoni. It was exciting for me learning about the customs and culture of renaissance Italy. Not only did Alexander’s dual timelines dovetail seamlessly, her evenly paced plot showcased her well-researched Florentine history. Her characters were lovable, flawed and historically believable and readers get to see them blossom and grow as the plot progresses. I fell in love with Mina’s character when she uttered the words “For me, though, books spoke to my soul. I needed them more than food or water.” I loved her cryptic clues for booklovers, the adventure, the sleuthing, and the secrets; they all were woven together to create a story that bibliophiles and historical fiction readers only dream about! You’ll need to mark this eagerly anticipated release date of March 9, 2021, on your calendar. Thank you to Tasha Alexander, St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books and NetGalley for this fantastic advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Swafford

    Colin Hargreaves' attention is on his daughter's palazzo in Florence, where there has been a series of burglaries but he also has a duty to the Crown that he must carry out. Lady Emily is less than pleased with her husband's reticence, especially when they reach the city and are immediately met with murder. With secrets surrounding them, Lad Emily follows clues in search of a treasure dating back to the Medici. After so many years of marriage, I would have expected Emily and Colin would have foun Colin Hargreaves' attention is on his daughter's palazzo in Florence, where there has been a series of burglaries but he also has a duty to the Crown that he must carry out. Lady Emily is less than pleased with her husband's reticence, especially when they reach the city and are immediately met with murder. With secrets surrounding them, Lad Emily follows clues in search of a treasure dating back to the Medici. After so many years of marriage, I would have expected Emily and Colin would have found some way to balance his career and their married life. "You have your secrets, so I will have mine" seems like a dangerous mindset to have in a marriage. I could understand Emily's frustration that her husband wouldn't tell her the truth about what he needed to do in Florence, but it also frustrated me as a reader to see her take it as reason to do as she pleased to learn the truth. Th details of the mystery were interesting. The book's strength lies in the details of the setting and history. The storyline of past was only interesting in the last half when reign of Friar Savanarola began. Well written and certainly well researched, this is one I would recommend to fans of the series. While it can be read as a stand alone, it does take the reader some time to catch up. I received a free copy from NetGalley and all opinions expressed are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bee

    I always love this series, and ‘The Dark Heart of Florence’ did not disappoint overall. The Hargreaves’ travel to Florence with Cecile to meet up with Colin’s friend, who, like Colin, is also engaged in top secret service to the crown. The trip is presumably to investigate a series of break-ins at Kat’s villa, but the two agents for the crown have another agenda to fulfill as well. Within a day or so of arriving, a murder occurs that has both sets of ‘investigators’ working to solve it, while Co I always love this series, and ‘The Dark Heart of Florence’ did not disappoint overall. The Hargreaves’ travel to Florence with Cecile to meet up with Colin’s friend, who, like Colin, is also engaged in top secret service to the crown. The trip is presumably to investigate a series of break-ins at Kat’s villa, but the two agents for the crown have another agenda to fulfill as well. Within a day or so of arriving, a murder occurs that has both sets of ‘investigators’ working to solve it, while Colin navigates the tricky business of what details, exactly, he can share with Emily. Along with this inquiry, the villa itself contains a centuries-old mystery relating to the time of the Medici, Renaissance art, and the tyrannical fanaticism of Savonarola and his followers. My two minor complaints would be: I’ve grown weary of constant thinly veiled references to Cecile’s amorous proclivities. Her character has started to bore me as this is all she contributes to the plot these days. And I’m not a big fan of Tasha Alexander’s alternating point-of-view writing that she’s adopted in recent additions to the series. I find it muddles things. I appreciate receiving a copy of this ebook from the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    The Lady Emily Mysteries are one of my must read series and The Dark Heart of Florence did not disappoint! I love going to new and exotic locations with Colin and Lady Emily and the way Tasha Alexander combines the history and culture of Florence into the plot is as always very well done. Mina's story is so sad and that it leads to further tragedies several hundreds of years later makes it even more tragic. That Colin and Lady Emily can no longer collaborate as they did in earlier books due to t The Lady Emily Mysteries are one of my must read series and The Dark Heart of Florence did not disappoint! I love going to new and exotic locations with Colin and Lady Emily and the way Tasha Alexander combines the history and culture of Florence into the plot is as always very well done. Mina's story is so sad and that it leads to further tragedies several hundreds of years later makes it even more tragic. That Colin and Lady Emily can no longer collaborate as they did in earlier books due to the changes in his position with the Crown changes their relationship and the rhythm of the books but not in a negative way. I look forward to their next adventure and seeing more of Kat in future stories. Thank you to #NetGalley for letting me read an advance copy of @TheDarkHeartofFlorence!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    The Dark Heart of Florence is the 15th book in the Lady Emily Mystery series by Tasha Alexander. I was extremely late to this party; I didn't come in until book 14. Apparently the mysteries stand alone, and you won't be the least bit lost. This book started out very slowly, but I'm glad I stuck with it, as I ended up being highly entertained. Lady Emily's husband, Colin Hargreaves, is an agent of the Crown. When there's a series of burglaries at his daughter's palazzo in Italy, it is believed tha The Dark Heart of Florence is the 15th book in the Lady Emily Mystery series by Tasha Alexander. I was extremely late to this party; I didn't come in until book 14. Apparently the mysteries stand alone, and you won't be the least bit lost. This book started out very slowly, but I'm glad I stuck with it, as I ended up being highly entertained. Lady Emily's husband, Colin Hargreaves, is an agent of the Crown. When there's a series of burglaries at his daughter's palazzo in Italy, it is believed that the crimes may be related to the looming tensions between Britain and Germany in 1903. Colin, along with Lady Emily and her best friend Cecile, head to beautiful Florence, Italy to investigate. They are joined by Colin's fellow agent, Darius Benton-Stone, for assistance. Shortly after arriving, a young man plummets off the roof of the palazzo, landing on the marble floor; it's apparently murder. Colin and Darius must investigate as agents for the Crown, so Lady Emily cannot be involved. Humph! Lady Emily and Cecile will just have to do their own investigation! They soon discover the death may be connected to a hidden treasure dating back to 15th Century Italy during the time of the Medici and the violent fanatic monk, Savonarola. However, the bodies soon start piling up... As Ms. Alexander did in the previous book, Lady Emily's investigation is intertwined with another story from the past. This time is we are introduced to Mina Portinari, a young woman in 15th Century Florence. I had no idea how she was going to tie the two timelines and stories together, but she did so, and brilliantly. I actually enjoyed Mina's story more than Lady Emily's. It's quite obvious the author did her homework on the history of Renaissance Florence. I almost felt like I was there. I could also feel her love for the area in her beautiful descriptions of Florence and the palazzos. Ms. Alexander's knowledge of art and literature of the 15th century captivated me. The characters all drew me in, but I especially liked Lady Emily and Colin and their private times together. Of course this was a mystery, and a story falls flat if that mystery is too easily solved. I actually had an "I did NOT see that coming!" moment when the culprit was revealed. Here's hoping that Lady Emily and Colin have many more adventures to come! I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Tasha Alexander writes one of the most reliably entertaining series in mystery fiction – every book has a complex plot, often a dual timeline, a bit of romance, plus the reader gets to go on some armchair travel and learn a bit of history to boot. In this latest Lady Emily outing, her dishy husband, Colin, takes her to Florence, along with her friend Cecile, for cover, as he works on something so secret for the Crown that he can’t even tell Emily. It’s 1903 and they’re staying at Colin’s newly di Tasha Alexander writes one of the most reliably entertaining series in mystery fiction – every book has a complex plot, often a dual timeline, a bit of romance, plus the reader gets to go on some armchair travel and learn a bit of history to boot. In this latest Lady Emily outing, her dishy husband, Colin, takes her to Florence, along with her friend Cecile, for cover, as he works on something so secret for the Crown that he can’t even tell Emily. It’s 1903 and they’re staying at Colin’s newly discovered daughter, Kat’s, home in Florence, and merely reading the descriptions of Florence will make you long not just for armchair travel but for the real thing. Emily and Cecile are folded into Colin’s work by a circumstance beyond his control – when they arrive at the villa, one of the workers plunges to his death from the top of the villa and is discovered by one of the maids. Emily and Cecile think they can do better winkling out what really happened to him, and of course, they are correct. Colin and his fellow spy, for want of a better word, are off investigating for much of the narrative, leaving the focus, in this novel, on Emily and Cecile. As they investigate in their own way – talking to shopkeepers, neighbors, and the fiancée of the dead man, they do begin to unearth some clues. There’s also, they are sure, a treasure hidden somewhere in the villa, and one of the clues is the ancient graffiti left on the walls. Emily makes a meticulous catalogue of their locations and begins to translate the Latin phrases she finds. I love the combination of scholarship and investigation in these books. They are always excellent mysteries, but Alexander’s special twist is Emily’s love of the Classical world, which she draws into her narratives whenever possible. In this book, her interest is sparked by the spectacular Italian renaissance artists who populated Florence in the 15th century, and Savonarola, the man who came along in the late 15th century and tried to burn it all down. (This is where the expression “Bonfire of the Vanities” comes from). To illustrate the rich culture of Florence in that time period, Alexander also treats the reader to the story of Mina Portinari, whose narrative begins when she is 16, in 1480. We see her through a doomed romance, heartbreak, and a comfortable marriage, with only her passion for learning and scholarship remaining a constant. Mina’s grandfather introduces her to her love of ideas and as a girl she spends time with Botticelli and Lorenzo di Medici. As the story progresses and the ravages of Savonarola’s destructive thugs cut closer and closer to home, Mina is both engulfed in events and takes steps to change the outcome. Mina’s steps in the past find an echo in Emily’s investigations in 1903. As always, Alexander draws her two threads together in a thoughtful and memorable way, leaving the reader, as always, eager for the next adventure.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sue F

    Readers who like their historical mysteries with even more history than usual will enjoy Tasha Alexander’s latest Lady Emily mystery, The Dark Heart of Florence, set in the years leading up to World War I. Britain and Germany are starting to bump elbows, and as an agent for the British government, Lady Emily’s husband, Colin, is in the thick of things. Only this time, the thick of things is in Florence, where Colin’s newly-found daughter, Kat, has conveniently inherited a palazzo. After a bit of Readers who like their historical mysteries with even more history than usual will enjoy Tasha Alexander’s latest Lady Emily mystery, The Dark Heart of Florence, set in the years leading up to World War I. Britain and Germany are starting to bump elbows, and as an agent for the British government, Lady Emily’s husband, Colin, is in the thick of things. Only this time, the thick of things is in Florence, where Colin’s newly-found daughter, Kat, has conveniently inherited a palazzo. After a bit of dysfunctional maneuvering, because Colin isn’t supposed to share government information with his wife, the pair head to Florence, picking up Lady Emily’s friend, Cecile, on the way. Oh - and in addition to the spy stuff going on, there might be a hidden treasure somewhere in Kat’s palazzo too. And that’s where the historical mystery within the historical mystery starts. Author Alexander has woven a second story in and around the first. This one features Mina, a young Florentine girl who chafes at the restrictions placed on women in the mid-to-late 1400s, and treasures her rare chances to stretch her mind, encouraged by her grandfather. Florence in the 1400s was one of the great centers of the Renaissance, so readers get to meet many of the notables of the day (both good and bad) along with Mina – Botticelli, the de Medici’s, Savonarola, and others. In fact, the city itself almost feels like another character. And eventually the two story lines do tie together. Much as with Alexander’s previous “story-within-a-story” book, In the Shadow of Vesuvius, I liked both of the story lines. I might have preferred to read them separately though – I kept getting into one, only to have the narrative flip to the other one. Alexander seems to have made a bit of a habit of the “story-within-a-story” recently, but I think I’d prefer to have the focus stay on the main characters: Lady Emily and Colin, and their family and friends. (Kat, anyone?) Even with these minor issues, I still enjoyed the book a lot, and my four-star rating is a solid “read” recommendation, since I keep five-stars for a very very few books – maybe one in thirty or forty that I read. But I sort of hope that the series returns to Lady Emily stand-alones in the future. Finally, I’d like to express my thanks to the publisher, Minotaur Books, and to NetGalley, for the advance review copy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander is the latest Lady Emily mystery in which she, her husband Colin, and her friend, Cecile du Lac visit Colin's newly discovered daughter, Kat's home in Italy. It had been left her by her mother and had recently been the object of several break-ins. Colin wanted to investigate. Their arrival was met by the small permanent staff. Colin, who had worked for years as an agent of the crown, was met shortly by a colleague, Darius Benton-Smith, and they were The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander is the latest Lady Emily mystery in which she, her husband Colin, and her friend, Cecile du Lac visit Colin's newly discovered daughter, Kat's home in Italy. It had been left her by her mother and had recently been the object of several break-ins. Colin wanted to investigate. Their arrival was met by the small permanent staff. Colin, who had worked for years as an agent of the crown, was met shortly by a colleague, Darius Benton-Smith, and they were off on whatever case they were currently working, which presumably included investigating the death of the person whose body had flown from the top of the house and landed, unceremoniously, on the floor below. Shocking way to celebrate their arrival! This is a dual timeline novel, the other timeline being the late 15th century and a young woman named Mina, who had a thirst for knowledge uncommon in a woman and strove to meet her needs in uncommon ways. The house was the unifying factor. I have been following Lady Emily and her travels for years and must comment that this was a totally satisfying entry into her live story. The addition of her little boys and Colin's new daughter has added to the variety her life has always encompassed. She is a very astute woman who uses her situation in 1903 to her advantage as she always has. She married someone who allows her autonomy and shares his life with her, as much as he is able. Colin respects her intelligence and drive and works with her on his team when he is able. The Crown doesn't always allow it. The 15th century portion of the book is about a similar woman but her methods are incredibly different as society is much more stringent in its expectations. Mina found herself in trouble, dealt with it, married, was widowed, and in order to be herself, had to stay that way. She fought society in a frightening time as well. This was an exhilarating romp into two different historical realities. Alexander has done the stories justice. Please read. I was invited to read a free ARC of The Dark Heart of Florence by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #netgalley #thedarkheartofflorence

  17. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    In this, number 15 in the Lady Emily series, our unconventional, well-to-do heroine and her husband, Colin, travel to Florence on both personal and professional business: burglaries have been occurring in his daughter's palazzo that are suspected to have implications on the broader political theatre. As an agent of the British Crown Colin and his colleague Darius Benton-Stone investigate, leaving Lady Emily feeling left out and frustrated. She and her friend, Cecile de Lac, embark on an investig In this, number 15 in the Lady Emily series, our unconventional, well-to-do heroine and her husband, Colin, travel to Florence on both personal and professional business: burglaries have been occurring in his daughter's palazzo that are suspected to have implications on the broader political theatre. As an agent of the British Crown Colin and his colleague Darius Benton-Stone investigate, leaving Lady Emily feeling left out and frustrated. She and her friend, Cecile de Lac, embark on an investigation of their own, which soon includes a treasure hunt that originates in the time of the Medici. Using the dual timelines (that of 1903 and another of the Renaissance), Alexander weaves a story that portrays a Florence of danger, intrigue, and (of course) bravery and love. I am a long-time fan of Alexander's, especially of her Lady Emily series, so I'm ecstatic to have received this ARC as provided by the publisher via @Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! I have enjoyed seeing our heroine and her relationships evolve over the years. This latest recreates the city of Florence in two historical eras, and the details are thoughtfully and vividly recreated. It was hard for me to engage with the storyline based in Renaissance Florence at first (especially with the blatant foreshadowing and statements of doom and despair, which got annoying). But as the storyline became more developed it was equally as engaging as that of the Victorian era. I found myself starting to eagerly follow the treasure hunt alongside the story behind it. At the same time I did find this installment to be ever-so-slightly less engaging then the previous books in the series. I felt that Lady Emily's detecting was more forced and less believable than in most of the previous books. She does a lot of interrogating of strangers who are more than willing to share private things with her. But I did appreciate the web of truth and misdirection as she makes her way irrevocably toward the truth, showing that even those who seemed to be transparent were not--in reality--always telling the truth. #TheDarkHeartofFlorence #NetGalley

  18. 5 out of 5

    pawsandpagesbyannie

    The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander Publication Date: March 9, 2021 . Description from NetGalley... “In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves. An agent of the Crown, Colin carries the weight of the Empire, but his focus is drawn to Italy by a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence—burglaries that might have international ramifications. He and Emil The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander Publication Date: March 9, 2021 . Description from NetGalley... “In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves. An agent of the Crown, Colin carries the weight of the Empire, but his focus is drawn to Italy by a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence—burglaries that might have international ramifications. He and Emily travel to Tuscany where, soon after their arrival, a stranger is thrown to his death from the roof onto the marble palazzo floor. Finding herself excluded from the investigation, Emily secretly launches her own clandestine inquiry into the murder, aided by her spirited and witty friend, Cécile. They soon discover that the palazzo may contain a hidden treasure dating back to the days of the Medici and the violent reign of the fanatic monk, Savonarola—days that resonate in the troubled early twentieth century, an uneasy time full of intrigue, duplicity, and warring ideologies. . Thank you to @NetGalley @stmartinspress @minotaurbooks for the digital ARC in return for my honest review. . My thoughts... She’s back! Tasha Alexander was an auto-buy author for me and I just loved her Lady Emily mystery series. But, I felt after awhile the books were starting to sound the same. So, I passed on her last two books. When I saw this I thought I’d give her a read again. And I’m glad I did! This was an example of why she became an auto-buy and why I enjoyed Lady Emily. Have you been to Florence? I have. And the story transported me back. I appreciated the history woven in the story and the detailed description of the city. I studied the Renaissance and Medici family in high school where my love for history developed. The historical mystery was so well written and the two timelines, 1480 and 1903 were well done. All the books could be stand-alones and all happen in different cities.

  19. 5 out of 5

    bibliolatry

    If you've never heard of Savonarola you will love this book! I only knew his name, but didn't know anything about him. He and the Medici's are important characters in The Dark Heart of Florence, and I found it absolutely fascinating. I had not read any books in the Lady Emily Series in a couple of years. I had stopped reading them after Book 6, but then I won an ARC of The Dark Heart of Florence, and was curious to see how much Colin and Emily had changed over the years. There were not as many c If you've never heard of Savonarola you will love this book! I only knew his name, but didn't know anything about him. He and the Medici's are important characters in The Dark Heart of Florence, and I found it absolutely fascinating. I had not read any books in the Lady Emily Series in a couple of years. I had stopped reading them after Book 6, but then I won an ARC of The Dark Heart of Florence, and was curious to see how much Colin and Emily had changed over the years. There were not as many changes as I had imagined. One new thing was that Colin met a daughter he never knew existed. This happened in Book 14, In the Shadow of Vesuvius. I was so intrigued, that I read that book right after I finished this one. Another new (to me) development is the format of the last few books. TA started to write dual timeline stories starting with Book 13, Uneasy Lies the Crown, where one story takes place in their present time and the other takes place sometime in the past. There is a connection between the past and their present, and the investigation seeks to find out what it is. Although some readers don't like this format, I loved it. Even though I enjoyed this book very much, I found that I liked the story that is set in the past much better. I absolutely loved Mina's story (set in 15th century Florence)! In the previous book, In the Shadow of Vesuvius, I loved that historical story better also. I noticed that TA writes historical fiction with much more empathy for her heroines than she does for Emily. Often I find Emily cold, or snarky, and there is so much time devoted to providing Red Herrings, that the story gets bogged down in details that lead nowhere. IMO there isn't enough character development even though that part of the book is much longer. I enjoyed this book so much, that I plan to return to the series. I didn't realize that I would miss Cecile, Ivy, Jeremy, and Margaret that much. #TheDarkHeartofFlorence #NetGalley

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Wow! This book is incredible! It is full of twists and turns, intrigue, history, culture, and so much more! Whenever I picked up "The Dark Heart of Florence", I put on my sleuthing hat, was whisked away to Italy, and went on such a journey with this book. This is the 15th book in Tasha Alexander's "Lady Emily Mysteries" series, but the first I have read, and I think it can absolutely be read as a stand alone novel as well! Now, I can't wait to go back and read her previous books in the series, an Wow! This book is incredible! It is full of twists and turns, intrigue, history, culture, and so much more! Whenever I picked up "The Dark Heart of Florence", I put on my sleuthing hat, was whisked away to Italy, and went on such a journey with this book. This is the 15th book in Tasha Alexander's "Lady Emily Mysteries" series, but the first I have read, and I think it can absolutely be read as a stand alone novel as well! Now, I can't wait to go back and read her previous books in the series, and I hope there will be many more as well! Her writing style is so incredible and unique, and she brilliantly brings the story to life. Her characters all feel like such incredibly real people, and you feel like you are right there watching everything occur. She brilliantly weaves history and fiction, and everything flows seamlessly. Lady Emily, Cécile, Colin, and more are trying to solve a murder in the present (1900's), while Lady Emily and Cecilé also begin to search for a hidden treasure. In the past (1400s), the story follows Mina, a young woman alive during the time of the late-Medici rule in Italy, who loves to read and learn. What unfolds will have you on the edge of your seat guessing what will happen as legends, history, and event after event begins to unfold. I felt that the alternating timelines of the Early 20th Century and the Late 15th Century worked extremely well. Watching the puzzle pieces of how they connect come together, and how they end up intertwining in that connection, was so gripping. If you enjoy historical mystery and / or historical fiction, I highly recommend this book! It is truly amazing, and I can't wait to see what mysteries Lady Emily will solve next! Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press / Minotaur Books for the ARC of this book, and to Minotaur Books for sending me a physical ARC as well, it is incredible! All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  21. 5 out of 5

    joyce w. laudon

    The Dark Heart of Florence is the fifteenth book in a series featuring Lady Emily, her husband Colin and those around them. Long term readers will be delighted to again spend time with these characters and those new to the books may well want to go back and read at least some of the earlier entries. There are many things that were appealing in this latest dual timeline story. One of these is the author’s knowledge of Florence, the Medici family, Savonarola and the imagined lives of those who live The Dark Heart of Florence is the fifteenth book in a series featuring Lady Emily, her husband Colin and those around them. Long term readers will be delighted to again spend time with these characters and those new to the books may well want to go back and read at least some of the earlier entries. There are many things that were appealing in this latest dual timeline story. One of these is the author’s knowledge of Florence, the Medici family, Savonarola and the imagined lives of those who lived at that time. She then takes readers on a virtual tour of that same city in 1903. It bears repeating that the erudite Ms. Alexander knows her Florence. For those who may not know, Lady Emily’s husband works for the British government. His jobs often involve secrecy. However, Lady Emily, who is not a typical woman of her time, always becomes involved as well. Watching how their work leads to a restoration of order is another enjoyable aspect to the series. In the part of the book that is set during the time of Botticelli, readers meet a young woman who wants more than what a young woman can typically expect, which is an arranged marriage. Who she falls in love with and the consequences of that choice form one thread of the narrative. In 1903, Lady Emily, her close friend, her husband and her husband’s work colleague are staying in the home that was bequeathed to Colin’s daughter from an earlier relationship. A body falls to the ground. Why was he murdered? Does it have to do with Colin’s work or, possibly, a hidden treasure? Readers will keep turning the pages in order to find out. Readers can be sure that they will find plenty of adventure in this story that is engaging and interesting. I definitely recommend this title. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beg and Borrow Books

    The Dark Heart of Florence – Lady Emily Mysteries Book 15 By Tasha Alexander Minotaur Books Pub date: 3/9/2021 This installation in the Lady Emily Mystery Series takes Emily, her husband Colin Hargreaves, and Emily’s friend, Cécile to Florence, Italy where they are immediately caught up in a murder mystery. The trio are joined by one of Colin’s fellow Crown spies, Darius Benton-Stone. Colin and Darius tackle the murder while Emily and Cécile look for a treasure that is rumored to be in the palazzo i The Dark Heart of Florence – Lady Emily Mysteries Book 15 By Tasha Alexander Minotaur Books Pub date: 3/9/2021 This installation in the Lady Emily Mystery Series takes Emily, her husband Colin Hargreaves, and Emily’s friend, Cécile to Florence, Italy where they are immediately caught up in a murder mystery. The trio are joined by one of Colin’s fellow Crown spies, Darius Benton-Stone. Colin and Darius tackle the murder while Emily and Cécile look for a treasure that is rumored to be in the palazzo in which they are staying, which happens to be the inherited home of Lady Emily’s stepdaughter, Kate. To unravel the mystery of the hidden treasure, Alexander bounces the reader back and forth between Emily and Cécile in 1903, and a woman named Mina who lived in Florence in the mid-1400s. Many of the Renaissance’s famous names are present here, including the Medici’s, Botticelli, and Savonarola. The “current day” mystery is intriguing, but I found Mina’s story more impactful. Of course, I love the history that is told of that time, and although it is a fictionalized account, there is enough truth to make the story compelling. I also learned where the saying, “bonfire of the vanities” came from. I was a little irritated with Colin that he got information from Emily but didn’t reciprocate. I know he works for the Crown and his work should be private, but maybe if he at least gave her hints, they would not be constantly working at cross-purposes. I also found the story a little slow at times. I did, however, enjoy the friendship between Emily and Cécile. It is nice to see strong female relationships. This is my first Lady Emily Mystery, but it will not be my last. 3.5 out of 5 stars Thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books and NetGalley for the ARC.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jean Kolinofsky

    An assignment for Colin Hargreaves, an agent of the Crown, brings His wife Lady Emily and her friend Cecile to his daughter’s palazzo in Florence. The palazzo has recently been broken into twice and shortly after their arrival the body of an informant is discovered in their courtyard. Working with fellow agent Darius Benton-Smith, Colin must discover the informant’s murderer and his tie to his current assignment. While he refuses to discuss his assignment with Emily, she is no stranger to invest An assignment for Colin Hargreaves, an agent of the Crown, brings His wife Lady Emily and her friend Cecile to his daughter’s palazzo in Florence. The palazzo has recently been broken into twice and shortly after their arrival the body of an informant is discovered in their courtyard. Working with fellow agent Darius Benton-Smith, Colin must discover the informant’s murderer and his tie to his current assignment. While he refuses to discuss his assignment with Emily, she is no stranger to investigations and is determined to investigate along with Cecile. The walls of the palazzo contain quotations and notations and there is a rumor that there is a treasure hidden there. Emily and Cecile use research on the palazzo’s history and a treasure hunt to cover their activities. Tasha Alexander’s story takes place in two time periods, told in alternating chapters. While Colin and Emily pursue their investigations in 1903, she also introduces Mina Portinari in the 1400s. Mina’s love of literature is shared with Father Cambio. Their discussions eventually lead to growing feelings and an affair ensues. When Mina becomes pregnant she is betrayed by Father Cambio. She eventually marries and moves to the palazzo that is now owned by Hargreaves’ daughter, but she has made an enemy for life. Her story continues through the fall of the Medicis and the rise of Savonarola. Interpreting Mina’s writings on the wall leads to a final confrontation that puts both Colin and Emily in danger and solves a mystery that has stood for hundreds of years. This is a story that will not only please mystery fans, but also those readers who love historical fiction. I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin Press for providing this book for my review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    If you love historical mysteries with wonderful settings, a touch of romance and lots of intrigue, this series is a must read. Best read in order but can be read as a stand alone, the life of Lady Emily and her husband Colin is a great escape. For their fifteenth mystery, Colin is sent to Florence for the Crown and it's so hush-hush that even Emily isn't privy to any of it. With the cover excuse of visiting Colin's newly found grown daughter, Kat's palazzo in Florence, they stop in Paris to pick If you love historical mysteries with wonderful settings, a touch of romance and lots of intrigue, this series is a must read. Best read in order but can be read as a stand alone, the life of Lady Emily and her husband Colin is a great escape. For their fifteenth mystery, Colin is sent to Florence for the Crown and it's so hush-hush that even Emily isn't privy to any of it. With the cover excuse of visiting Colin's newly found grown daughter, Kat's palazzo in Florence, they stop in Paris to pick up Cecile. Emily and Cecile will be company for each other while Colin is doing his job for the Crown. The focus on Kat's palazzo by Emily and Colin is due to a series of break-ins but soon a death is added to their investigation. Emily and Cecile take us for a tour of Florence and I couldn't have been happier in their company. Florence has always been one of my favorite cities and this brought back all of the sights, sounds, smells - everything came back in vivid detail. There is only one thing that kept me from giving this a five star review. I have trouble staying immersed in a mystery when there are two voices/two time periods alternating. I want one or the other. Both stories are excellent, the mysteries are well written and the characters are well developed but I too often get frustrated and want to jump ahead. The story of Florence in the 1400's is a real draw for the art history majors out there. Add hidden treasure and this gave me a great escape. I'm looking forward to Emily and Colin's next adventure. My thanks to the publisher Minotaur and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marco

    When I first saw "The Dark Heart of Florence" by Tasha Alexander, I'll admit I thought this was going to be a romance book, but this book is a lush murder mystery/historical fiction novel that surprised me in a good way. Told in two different timelines, 1480 and 1903, both are consumed in matters of intrigue. In 1480, a young woman is sent away after a scandal involving the local priest. In 1903, an investigation into a cursed house turns up more than one murdered person as the local legend is tha When I first saw "The Dark Heart of Florence" by Tasha Alexander, I'll admit I thought this was going to be a romance book, but this book is a lush murder mystery/historical fiction novel that surprised me in a good way. Told in two different timelines, 1480 and 1903, both are consumed in matters of intrigue. In 1480, a young woman is sent away after a scandal involving the local priest. In 1903, an investigation into a cursed house turns up more than one murdered person as the local legend is that anyone looking for the treasure in the house that was thought to be hidden centuries ago will meet their untimely end. At the center of it all is Lady Emily. This book is apparently part of a series of books featuring this character. She is quick-witted, a keen investigator, and whip smart. Along with her husband, his associate, and a close friend, she leads her own investigation into what is happening at the "haunted" house. Both storylines are full of the history of Florence and its country Italy. Everything written seems as if you're there. The book is fast-paced and a treat for both #historicalfiction fans and #mystery fans alike. I really found myself engaged in this novel and couldn't wait to find out who was doing what in both timelines and also finding a change of pace from novels with aloof investigators as the relationship with Lady Emily and her husband was both sincere and loving and her relationship with her friend that was both supportive and interesting. Definitely a book to read if you like mysteries, historical fiction, or well-written views of a time of art and love long forgotten.

  26. 5 out of 5

    April Perdomo

    While I don't know that I would recommend jumping in and making this your first Lady Emily Mystery like I did, I can say I honestly enjoyed it. I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of this in a giveaway (many thanks!) so this was the main reason why I picked this title up. I had never heard of these mysteries before and in starting it I had no frame of reference for this 15th book in the series. At first I was just trying to piece together the characters in this series (which I assume While I don't know that I would recommend jumping in and making this your first Lady Emily Mystery like I did, I can say I honestly enjoyed it. I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of this in a giveaway (many thanks!) so this was the main reason why I picked this title up. I had never heard of these mysteries before and in starting it I had no frame of reference for this 15th book in the series. At first I was just trying to piece together the characters in this series (which I assume most people reading this would already be familiar with) and it was like a puzzle trying to figure out who these characters are and how they all relate to one another. Usually, this frustrates me, but it is a testament to the writing style that I was intrigued if confused. Once I got a handle on everyone, I enjoyed just about everything about this cozy mystery. If you know me at all, you know I love a good cozy mystery similar in style to the Veronica Speedwell mysteries. These types of cozy mysteries remind me of when I was a kid curling up with a Nancy Drew mystery or even an Agatha Christie. They are fabulous. They make me happy and I love reading them. The highest praise I can give a mystery is to compare it to Nancy Drew because obviously it has a special place in my heart. Anyway, I had a fun reading this and now I am now very much interested in reading the entire series. It is pretty exciting that there are so many in this series because that means I have lots of lovely, cozy mysteries ahead of me and that makes me happy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander is the 15th book in the Lady Emily Mystery series. This book takes place at the beginning of the 1900s and follows Emily and her husband, Colin, after Colin’s daughters home had been burglarized twice. Lady Emily doesn’t intend to eavesdrop, but overhears Colin’s boss tell him that he will be investigating while in Florence. It is decided that it would be a good cover to have Emily’s friend, Cecile travel with them and assist Emily with her search fo The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander is the 15th book in the Lady Emily Mystery series. This book takes place at the beginning of the 1900s and follows Emily and her husband, Colin, after Colin’s daughters home had been burglarized twice. Lady Emily doesn’t intend to eavesdrop, but overhears Colin’s boss tell him that he will be investigating while in Florence. It is decided that it would be a good cover to have Emily’s friend, Cecile travel with them and assist Emily with her search for clues. Their investigation leads them to a treasure rumored to be hidden in Lady Emily’s stepdaughters home (the home they are staying in) and the mystery surrounding the treasure. We are also introduced to late 1400s Florence through the eyes of a young woman, Mina. Mina has the opportunity to visit the thinkers of the time with her grandfather. He introduces her to ideas that, because she is a woman, wouldn’t normally be open to her. This opportunity shapes her life and eventually, her story intersects with Lady Emily’s mystery, just hundreds of years later. I especially loved Mina and could not wait to learn more about her. It is no surprise that I enjoyed this book; Tasha Alexander has a talent for creating a solid mystery surrounded by interesting characters and places. The time she puts into researching the setting of her novels is apparent and appreciated. I felt as though I were walking along the historic streets of Florence visiting all the beautiful museums. *ARC provided in exchange for a honest review.*

  28. 5 out of 5

    LS

    One of the pleasures of this series is traveling alongside Lady Emily and her friends. This installment is set in Florence during the early 20th century; and, as with previous books, there is an alternating storyline set during the late fifteenth century. The main mystery begins when Lady Emily's stepdaughter's house is broken into. This sets Emily and her husband, Colin, and French friend, Cecile, on a quest to discover what happened. Colin is an undercover agent for the Crown, so he can't divu One of the pleasures of this series is traveling alongside Lady Emily and her friends. This installment is set in Florence during the early 20th century; and, as with previous books, there is an alternating storyline set during the late fifteenth century. The main mystery begins when Lady Emily's stepdaughter's house is broken into. This sets Emily and her husband, Colin, and French friend, Cecile, on a quest to discover what happened. Colin is an undercover agent for the Crown, so he can't divulge too many details of his work to his wife. But he has no problem with Emily looking for answers on her own. The other storyline tells the story of Mina, who lived during the time of the Bonfire of the Vanities. Naturally, her story is linked to the mystery that Emily is trying to solve. I was looking forward to seeing more of Kat in this book. Kat, Colin's daughter from a previous relationship, was introduced in the previous installment of the series. She was a great foil for Emily, and I was hoping to see more of her in this book, especially since her house provided the main setting for the novel. But Kat played a very minor role in the story. Hopefully she'll play a bigger part in the next book, because she gives some levity to the relationship between Emily and Colin. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced reader's copy in exchange for my honest opinions.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    In this 15th book in Alexander’s Lady Emily series, the author has written a dual-time mystery that alternates between 1490s and 1903. Lady Emily and her husband Colin are in Florence for Colin’s work as an agent for the British government. They no sooner arrive at the palazzo that Emily’s stepdaughter inherited from her mother, than a body is thrown over the balustrade onto the palazzo’s marble floor. Frozen out of the investigation, Lady Emily and her best friend Cecile begin their own investi In this 15th book in Alexander’s Lady Emily series, the author has written a dual-time mystery that alternates between 1490s and 1903. Lady Emily and her husband Colin are in Florence for Colin’s work as an agent for the British government. They no sooner arrive at the palazzo that Emily’s stepdaughter inherited from her mother, than a body is thrown over the balustrade onto the palazzo’s marble floor. Frozen out of the investigation, Lady Emily and her best friend Cecile begin their own investigation. What the two women find is at the heart of this well-written mystery. Alexander has certainly done her research for this book and is able to bring both times to life for her readers. With the rise of the fanatic monk Savonarola to power, we can feel the tension in Florence as he begins burning books and paintings in the main square. In 1903 Florence, there is just a hint of what’s to come to haunt Europe in the twentieth century. When Emily and Cecile discover the possibility of the location for some treasures saved from the mad monk, they have put their lives at risk, which becomes evident when there are more murders. While this is the 15th book in the series, if you haven’t read the first fourteen books, you will quickly be able to ascertain who’s who in this book and be able to settle in and enjoy this cozy mystery. My thanks to Minotaur Books and Edelweiss for an eARC.

  30. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Lady Emily shows the way again! Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves head to Florence to investigate robberies at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence. Just after they arrive a man falls to his death from the roof. It’s 1903 and tensions are rising between Germany and England, Colin as an agent of the Crown has government affairs to distill particularly given the death. He’s assisted by his associate Darius Benton-Stone. Emily can’t be involved in affairs of state. (Have to love the relationship between Lady Emily shows the way again! Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves head to Florence to investigate robberies at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence. Just after they arrive a man falls to his death from the roof. It’s 1903 and tensions are rising between Germany and England, Colin as an agent of the Crown has government affairs to distill particularly given the death. He’s assisted by his associate Darius Benton-Stone. Emily can’t be involved in affairs of state. (Have to love the relationship between Colin and Emily!) Emily is decidedly put out, however her friend Cécile (who’s amazing!!) joins her in rather interesting methods of investigating the matter. What they run into is the widely held belief that there’s treasure hidden in the palazzo and that all treasure seekers will die. (Hence the obviousness of the death that’s just happened). Rather than deterring these two very clever women it spurs them on to not only get to the bottom of the murder but too solve the puzzle of the lost treasure. Running alongside is the story of Florence and the residents of the palazzo in the latter days of the Medici. This was even more fascinating! I loved the way these stories dovetailed as the search for the dealers of death takes flight. For me the interweaving of these stories worked fabulously and took the Lady Emily mysteries to a new high. A St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley (Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

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