Summary: London's social season is in full swing and Victorian aristocracy can't stop whispering about a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. But he's not the only topic of wagging tongues. Drawing rooms, boudoirs, and ballrooms are abuzz with the latest news of an audacious cat burglar who has been systematically stealing valuable items that once belonged to the ill-fated queen.
Light gossip turns serious when the owner of one of the pilfered treasures is found murdered, and the mysterious thief develops a twisted obsession with Lady Emily Ashton. It will take all of Emily's wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, while faced with a brewing scandal that threatens both her reputation and her romance with her late husband's best friend, the dashing Colin Hargreaves.
Comment: Lady Emily Ashton is smart, modern, maybe too much so. She has a gift for sorting out problems, but that gift gets her involved in all sorts of trouble that cause notice among the ton. She's independent and encourages her female friends to be so too, which means certain families avoid her altogether. Ms. Alexander has created a real character with Emily Ashton, but her secondary characters are good as well. Charles Berry, the pretender to the non-existant French throne, is despicable, Ivy, remains her innocent self, and Margaret plans a deception to get her parents to allow her to go to Oxford. Emily's friend Cecile, along w/Brutus and Caesar, is an instigator in the best possible ways for Emily. Of course, there is Colin Hargreaves, handsome, an operative for the home office, and Emily's love interest - but will she finally agree to marry him?
There is a largely looming character over the whole novel - the season. What it means to women and, to some degree, to men. How gossip can change your status, how an innocent misstep can too. And if you have a conniving mother, how you could end up marrying some one you hardly know and don't like instead of the one man you truly love.