Susanna Kearsley’s The Shadowy Horses and The Firebird are favorite books of mine, but unfortunately I had a hard time getting into this one. The story is told in dual time periods, which I love, but the modern couple Sara & Luc weren’t very compelling. I couldn’t feel any chemistry between them. Sara’s code-breaking ability was interesting though, which takes us to the historical portion of the story, the better of the two.
Mary Dundas is the daughter of a Jacobite exile, and Sara’s job is to crack Mary’s journal’s cipher from the 1700s. Mary gets wrapped up in some political intrigue that takes her on a road trip across Europe to Rome, which she records in her diary. Even this part of the book was slow-paced, and I was a wee bit let down by the outcome of the big “intrigue.” With a secret coded diary at the story’s center, I was expecting more. However, I loved Hugh MacPherson, the Highlander assigned as a bodyguard for Mary’s group. His backstory was tragic! Mary’s first impression of him made me giggle though. I could have spent all my time with Mary and Hugh in the past.
Clearly this book was meticulously researched. I think I was looking forward to the suspenseful Gothic feeling I’ve gotten from her previous books, but it wasn’t present in this one.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.