Paper dolls in Sisily

This was the first book I read by this author, and I’m on the hedge. I might try her again, or I might not. The story in this book is a light-hearted regency suspense. There is a romantic line there too, but it’s so faint as to be almost invisible.

The plot follows two young women from England to Sicily during the year 1811. Napoleonic wars are raging in Europe. The island of Sicily is England’s uneasy ally on the Mediterranean. The tempers are explosive. The various political factions jokey for power, and the intrigues sweep everyone in their often-bloody tangles. Into this boiling cauldron come Beth and Charlotte.

Beth is a London actress. Her reputation is in shreds, and her financial situation not much better. When her on-and-off lover offers her a position of a lead singer at a theatre in Palermo, the Sicilian capital, with the codicil she would spy on the Sicilians for him, she agrees. She has no better offer.

Charlotte is a teenage girl, an heir to a British bank. Full of teenage angst, she runs away from home and begs Beth, her mother’s former friend, to take her in. Beth, seeing that Charlotte is in a bad way (in her emotional turmoil, the girl has stopped eating) agrees to take her to Sicily. Perhaps, a trip to a foreign land would help Charlotte recover her equilibrium. Neither of them knows what is really happening on Sicily, and both of them become pawns in the dangerous games played by several conflicting parties.

The story is engaging, and it reads like a thriller. The world of Sicily is exotic and mysterious. Unfortunately, the characters in this story fall flat. Even though I liked Beth, I couldn’t really envision her. Neither could I see Charlotte. They both were painted paper dolls the author moved around in her book. Furthermore, several pivotal events in the tale were not on the pages, just hinted at by the author.  

Overall – I’m not much impressed, even though the writer’s imagination in crafting an original plot is considerable.