Forever Past (A Lord Byron Mystery, 3)

Written by Marty Ambrose
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Italy, 1873. The third in the Claire Clairmont series once again focuses on Claire’s desperate efforts to continue her search for the truth about her daughter, Allegra, with Lord Byron. We are all familiar with those transcendent figures who peopled the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva during the “year without a summer” of 1816: Shelley, Byron, Dr. Polidori, Mary Shelley and her stepsister, Claire. It is the stuff of legends and romance. When Claire becomes pregnant with Byron’s child, everything in her world changes, but after she returns to England, Byron ignores her.

Claire decides that Allegra should be raised in opulent surroundings, so she delivers Allegra to Byron in Italy. Rather than raising the child himself, which is what Claire believed would happen, Byron places Allegra in a convent in Bagnacavallo, and Claire never sees her daughter again. Allegra allegedly dies at age five, but Claire has never learned the truth, and she believes Allegra may be alive.

Already in danger and the target of enemies who want to keep secrets hidden, Claire travels to Bagnacavallo to confront the Abbess. As Claire comes close to the truth, she becomes the target of threatening events. The question is: who can be so threatened by Claire’s inquiries and why? This is a very enjoyable series; however, the third installment may be read as a stand-alone for those who want to jump in and enjoy a solidly researched mystery filled with fascinating characters—Claire, in particular—and a great location.