McFalls' tale is a wonderful combination of mystery, suspense and romance. The hero is terrifically strong yet vulnerable, and the heroine is repressed yet intelligent, working to overcome the horrors
of an abusive former relationship. The author does a fine job of staying true
to the time period.
Countess Elsbeth Mercer comes to live with her uncle, his wife and two daughters after her husband's death leaves her destitute. When an immodest painting with her as the apparent subject surfaces, Elsbeth goes in the search of the artist, who's known only as Dionysus.
This pits her against Nigel Purbeck, the Marquess of Edgeware, who wants to keep the artist's identity secret. Though his plans include seducing Elsbeth, they don't include her life being endangered and a rushed marriage. Nor do his plans include a close friend being accused of smuggling and, perhaps, attempting to kill Nigel. (FIVE STAR, May, 358 pp., $25.95)