The beginning of a new series of genre-busting crime thriller-romances
Travel with Allie, a confident young woman who risks leaving her secure job at a prestigious London auction house to work with a Mayfair art dealer, Henry di Palliano... the man she calls
a pretty Etonian. Henry, or Enrico as his demanding mother, the Contessa di Palliano calls him, has recently taken on the work of sourcing particular antiques for exclusive customers. Danger awaits.
Should I leave my secure job at a prestigious auction house in London for what my brother called dodgy business on the Riviera? Could I resist from falling in love with the pretty Etonian who had just taken over the business in Mayfair... and then there was his mother, the domineering Contessa di Galliano... and finally there was the most wonderful dog called Rosso to travel with us. How could I not?
"Its been quite a day. I'm very sorry I put you in danger, but I did ask you to stay in the car.'
'I've never been very good at doing what I'm told.' I said, feeling slightly cross now. 'Anyway, Rosso was in more danger than me.'
At the sound of his name, Rosso shuffled around under the table and gave a low grunt of agreement. I carried on with the safe canine theme..."
“Imagination rules the world.”
Henry di Palliano is in Rome, hunting for a rare lost letter written by the poet Shelley. He has a buyer ready waiting for it ... but will it be genuine or a clever copy? The Contessa, his autocratic mother starts the journey with him but it is left to Allie Ponsonby, his new auburn-haired colleague and Rosso, his faithful deerhound, to help him solve the mystery and escape the dark threat of Mafia involvement and drug smuggling. Danger certainly... glamour, too, travelling in Henry's vintage electric Alfa Romeo, staying in luxurious hotels and villas... but is there love in the hot Roman air?
There is a rumour in the world of antique hunters that a rare treasure from the bedchamber of Marie Antoinette is to be discovered in a dark, mysterious Château in Saumur, in the Loire Valley.
Henry di Palliano, an eccentric young man and his dog begin the search, aided and abetted by Allie, his beautiful auburn-haired and somewhat unruly researcher. The trail is hot... but can they overcome the jeopardy of life and jealous love en route?
Allie and Henry are in Italy, in love and staying on the Adriatic Riviera, hunting down a Roman amphora for their wealthy American customer. The seller's provenance seems good... how can anything go wrong? The clue is in the title of the book.
"The two security guards opened the gates as I approached and, I was about to drive through, when a red parcel dropped out of the sky into the middle of the driveway ahead. I braked violently and Henry was out of the car before I had quite stopped. The two guards walked lazily toward him and stood by as Henry picked up the package. Then, they all looked up at the sky and I craned my neck to see the black drone veering away and quickly disappearing. Henry walked away from the car and signalled to me to back up, so I pulled on the handbrake and jumped out of the car. I shouted to Henry,"
"Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine..."
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Rosso and I were tramping after Henry, weaving our way uphill through the vineyards from where Henry had parked the Alfa in a small road in a forest. Henry had said nothing as he pulled on his backpack and left the car. Rosso and I had followed him like children who had been told off, silent but near to giggling. I looked down at Rosso who was loping along very close to me and if a dog could laugh, then Rosso was laughing. The sun had dropped below the horizon more than an hour or so ago and it was that strange time of half dark before the moon and stars take over. I jogged faster to draw level with Henry and said in a low voice,
'So why did you tell me to wear my jeans and boots?'
“Speak in French when you can’t think of the English for a thing - turn your toes out when you walk… and remember who you are!”
Through the Looking-Glass
"Tell me then, Allie. When is a fake not a fake?',
We were strolling along the edge of the sea and mildly arguing. Rosso, bored with us, was far ahead, dancing in the ebb and flow of the small waves, occasionally barking at their advance. It occurred to me that his actions reflected how we were talking back and forth, with me raising a sporadic objection. I was beginning to tire of my efforts to make Henry see sense.
'A fake is always a fake in my mind, Henry.'
'But is a replica a fake? How about painters who copy a great master in order to hone their own skill? I've spent hours in galleries copying Constable, Gainsborough, Turner... it's a method of learning.'
I sighed with exasperation."
"The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made."
Art and antique hunters, Allie and Henry plus his loyal deerhound, Rosso, travel into the cold wilds of Norfolk to value a painting hidden away in a crumbling stately pile near the east coast. An exciting but simple enough task? But nothing is straightforward… is it actually a Constable… is there a Gainsborough… and how does Nelson enter the scene? Hidden in the dark attics they find more than historic relics… there is adultery, drugs, kidnap and dreadful peril all around.
Henry and Allie, professional antique hunters, hear rumour in the secret world of rare book collectors that a First Folio of Shakespeare's works is to be auctioned in Verona. Is it even possible? Madly in love, can they stay out of bed long enough to bid.? And it's St. Valentine's Day... and night in the city of star-crossed lovers...
“Rosso and I only come with you when we think you're about to be foolhardy.'
'You know, when you get one of your sudden ideas that invariably end up in trouble if not downright danger. I mean, there's nothing dangerous around here so...'
I stopped speaking abruptly as there was the sudden crack of a rifle shot and the small birds that had been huddled together in the frozen branches rose in the air and flew in circles over the car.
'Dear God! Was that a gunshot?' I said, holding my hands over my ears.
Before Henry could answer there was another crack and the sound of a bullet winging through the hedge very near... too near... to where I had parked.”
"I would always hesitate to recommend as a life’s companion a young laady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair. Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous."
'Look, Henry, I'm beginning to understand that you're just not used to sharing. You're an only child through and through, you've always been a loner. It's different for me, I've always had Sam to tell everything to… but I love you how you are.'
I thought I had done rather well with this little psycho-homily but to my dismay, Henry looked even more miserable.
'That's it, you see, Allie. I'm not used to sharing but, even worse, I'm not used to being so happy and so loved.’
“For he was more than over-shoes in love.”
Two Gentlemen of Verona Act I, Scene 1