The Emperor's Conspiracy - Michelle Diener
Michelle Diener is a fellow member of the Romance Writers of Australia and an awesome person to lunch with. She's clever, fun and generous. At this point, you're probably questioning whether my review can be unbiased. I'm thinking the best way to answer that is to walk you through my reaction to The Emperor's Conspiracy.

About a third of the way into The Emperor's Conspiracy I stopped reading and had an oh-heck moment. The realisation arrived in my brain as actual words: I was reading the "twenty first century's Georgette Heyer".
This is a huge claim for anyone who knows Georgette Heyer's fame as a Regency romance author, but I can back it up. Like Heyer's books, Michelle Diener writes stories to be read by women and men, full of wit and style, and impeccably researched.

But Michelle's audience is different to Heyer's, and so she writes of a grimmer reality, of the dark side of Regency England. That said, if you read Heyer's descriptions of the Peninsula War and Waterloo, you'll know she too knew the horrors her heroes and heroines fought.

And when I think of it, Heyer also had her antiheroes, like Vidal in Devil's Cub.

Still, it's a bit disconcerting to be reading a book that a number of reviews said wasn't romance, only to discover it is a brilliant intense romance -- and you've just been chatting with its author as if she's ordinary!

Anyway, tell me what you think of The Emperor's Conspiracy. I was captivated by Charlotte's struggles between two worlds -- struggles made real to me by the careful development of all the characters in the book. This is a well-crafted novel that I recommend.