Sandra Wilson/The Chalbourne Sapphires/Robert Hale/ISBN 978-0-7090-8313-9/HB/£18.99/224pgs
The author's powerful descriptions give this Regency its gothic overtones as the heroine's carriage is driven towards Chalbourne in the Cotswolds. Amy has arrived from America for a wedding only to be met by a coach dressed in funereal black, in the midst of a terrible snowstorm in bleak country. You can hear the music playing, feel a shiver down your spine, as she is forced to stay at a neighbour's house overnight, and there learns that her friend Olivia's betrothed, Charles, is accused of betraying her with the recently deceased Lady Chalbourne and of stealing the fabulous sapphires which are very valuable. Dastardly deeds are afoot! But is Charles innocent or guilty?
Lord Chalbourne is painted as something of a tyrant and Amy's first meeting with him is rather stormy. However, as all good heroes he mellows as she begins to know him. There is no doubt that the heirlooms are missing, and clearly there is some mystery here. The late Lady Chalbourne's maid is an odd character and a little sinister, but Amy is a brave character who speaks her mind. I enjoyed this beautifully descriptive tale and would definitely read this author again. Award 4.5 red roses. Morna