The Chalbourne Sapphires
1817: war between America and Britain has been over for two years, and patriotic Amy Van Allen has left Washington to spend Christmas at Chalbourne Park with her English friend Olivia Chalbourne, sister to Lord Chalbourne. The reason for Amy’s invitation: Olivia’s forthcoming wedding to her lover Charles Pemberton. Amy’s feelings are mixed; happy for her friend, nonetheless, British soldiers killed her brother during the recent war and her family did not wish her to accept Olivia’s invitation.
On arrival in England Amy rapidly learns all is not well. Lord Chalbourne’s wife, Alice, has recently, and shockingly, died in most mysterious circumstances; Lord Chalbourne stands accused of cruelty against his frail wife, Alice is believed to have stolen the famous Chalbourne diamonds and, worse still, Charles Pemberton is accused of conducting a flagrant affair with Alice. Naturally the wedding has been called off.
A Regency with a gothic flavour and more than enough twists and turns to keep the reader satisfied until a happy conclusion is reached. Characters are vividly drawn throughout; the hero is of the tortured variety, whilst the heroine has great aplomb and her verbal sparring with Lord Chalbourne is a delight to read. Recommended.