TEARS OF PEARL, by Tasha Alexander

I should have read this series - the adventures, murders and loves of the very independent Lady Emily Ashton - in order. They can stand alone nicely, but once you're bitten by the Lady Emily bug, you'll want to read them all...so why not start at the beginning? This one deals with an extended honeymoon (typical of their class, it could take six months), this portion in Istanbul, in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire (1892, to be exact). Author Alexander has the atmosphere spot on, although I personally would like a bit more travelogue info (my shortcoming; most will find it just about perfect), and way more about food (my other shortcoming). A young girl dies in the Sultan's harem; Lady E is whirled in to the mystery, meeting along the way a fascinating bunch of characters. Alexander is adept at showing the passionate side of our heroine without getting into the trenches; this could be required reading for Flirting 101. The ending may come as a big surprise as Alexander is an adept author and her psychological underpinnings are rock solid. Pay attention to details and you may figure out the villain earlier than I did. I gotta give this whole series a 5.