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By: Charlotte Betts
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Goodreads Rating: 4.13
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“All she’d wanted was to be loved for herself. I suppose that was no different from what most people wanted, myself included.”
“Italy, 1819. Emilia Barton and her mother Sarah live a nomadic existence, travelling from town to town as itinerant dressmakers to escape their past. When they settle in the idyllic coastal town of Pesaro, Emilia desperately hopes that, this time, they have found a permanent home. But when Sarah is brutally attacked by an unknown assailant, a deathbed confession turns Emilia’s world upside down.
Seeking refuge as a dressmaker in the eccentric household of Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Emilia experiences her first taste of love with the charming Alessandro. But her troubling history gnaws away at her. Might she, a humble dressmaker’s daughter, have a more aristocratic past than she could have imagined? When the Princess sends her on an assignment to London, she grasps the opportunity to unravel the truth.
Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, Emilia is determined to discover who she really is – even if she risks losing everything . . .”
The story begins with Caroline of Brunswick quite literally crashing into Emilia`s life, from this moment a friendship between the pair is sparked. Emilia’s mother Sarah is attacked in her home resulting in her death, providing Emilia and Caroline the common ground of grief upon which they bond. After finding work in Caroline of Brunswick’s household Emilia ends up in England in the hopes of finding her family. When she comes to England she also leaves behind Alessandro with whom she has entered a romantic courtship. In England, new relationships form whilst old ones are tested, and we see a web of secrets and lies unfurl before our eyes.
I was initially a little tentative with this book as I didn’t really connect in the first few chapters. I was almost glad when Sarah was killed off because I hated how Emilia referred to her as Ma, this probably relates to my disdain for goats (please don’t take me too seriously). But seriously I don’t like goats. Anyway, back to the review. I was also not very connected to Emilia’s Romance with Alessandro; despite their relationship seeming to be one of the end goals of the book. I don’t think Alessandro’s character was well developed enough for me to care what happened to him.
My absolute favorite parts of the book were the mysteries: i.e. discovering the identity of the art thief and what happened to Emilia`s presumed dead relative. I also really enjoyed watching the development of Emilia’s father as I definitely think he was one of the best developed and most interesting characters. Another massive plus for this book is the historically accurate depiction of Caroline of Brunswick. She was portrayed in the book as closely to the historical accounts as can be achieved.
In terms of the length of the book, I think it may have been a little too short as some of the key characters were not developed to their full potential. I don’t think any further plots should have been added rather the ones in existence could have benefited from some development.
I would recommend this book for the majority of people to read, it easy to read as is a more modern writing style and has enough romance and intrigue to keep the majority of people entertained. I also appreciated how the book was well planned out with titbits of information from the early chapters becoming relevant later on. Whilst this book won’t be making my lifetime list of top reads I am glad I read it.
My Rating: 3.3/5