Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.
The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry–the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.
Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.
With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust–who in her life is false or true, brass or gold–and what is meant to be treasured.
Lady of a Thousand Treasures begins in 1866 England. Eleanor Sheffield is an antiques appraiser and evaluator. She has been in business with her father, who is deceased, and her uncle, who is in the early stages of dementia. She is juggling her work and her strong feelings toward her former beau, Harry Lydney, when she is asked to evaluate the collection of Harry's late father and decide on its disposition.
This is such a unique and engrossing book! It has several really interesting facets. Most of all I loved reading about Eleanor's work evaluating antiquities. There were so many fascinating details about the glassware and antique pieces featured in this novel. A mystery begins involving some missing and forged antiquities and I found that really compelling too.
A good example of the type of details found in this novel: "I was delighted when I learned that monarchs, on coins, always face in the opposite direction from their predecessor. It started, my father taught me, when Charles the Second wanted to turn his back on Cromwell -- and so he did, on a coin, for all to see" (p. 43).
The social issues raised by this novel, including women seeking to be recognized in professional positions and the plight of women in prison, were very thought provoking. The historical notes at the end of the book were interesting. I had no idea that Lady Charlotte Schreiber, antiquities evaluator, and Dr. Elizabeth Garrett were based on real people!
I loved the personal details too -- Eleanor and her family with her uncle and her housekeeper (who is like family) and her back and forth relationship with Harry. Harry is an interesting romantic lead. He is presented in a multi-dimensional way and I went back and forth a few times as to whether Eleanor should trust him.
The Victorian historical details were beautifully done and I feel I actually learned some interesting history just reading this novel. It is an engrossing read and I looked forward to ending each day with the continued story. I think that other fans of historical fiction will enjoy Lady of a Thousand Treasures as well.
Sandra Byrd’s first series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was named by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fiction Books of the year.
Her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books of the Year Pick, as was The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr.
Victorian Ladies, a new series, offers its first title, Lady of a Thousand Treasures, in 2018.
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I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.