No Angel

Penny Vincenzi never ceases to amaze me with her powerful fictional tales. In this one, which is the first in a trilogy, she introduces the readers to an extremely interesting set of characters living in the Edwardian era. Edgar Lytton had risen from poverty to build a respected publishing house which he left for his daughter, LM and son, Oliver to run when he died. The brother and sister team, along with their staff have tried to honour the father's passion for excellence by choosing authors and works to meet their high standards.

When Lady Celia was not supported by her parents in her desire to marry Oliver, she did the only thing that she knew would facilitate her dream - she became pregnant with Oliver's child. And so the young family had a happy and hopeful start - until the First World War began. Everything changed when the men of the family and community left their jobs and families to go off to fight for the country. Celia poured her heart into the publishing house, always trying to make adjustments to the traditional methods of her absent husband in order to keep with the times and generate the revenue that was needed.

LM who always appeared to be a private and rather serious old maid had become involved with a widower who was not from their class and so she tried to keep their romance a secret - until she became pregnant with his child. And so new characters are introduced into a plot that becomes more and more complex with each chapter. In fact, there are twists and turns that are surprising and even shocking at times.

No Angel delves deeply into the secret lives of the Lytton family members and their associates revealing things that frighten and shame the main characters while, at the same time, always intriguing the readers. The 724 pages might seem daunting at first look but time disappears with the mesmerizing effect that the story has on those who begin to read.

This book has everything - power, finance, business, family dynamics, affairs, adoption, culture, politics, international links, murder, pain, accidents, marriages, war, parenting, - but most of all it has beautiful writing that turns fictional people into realistic characters who could be part of anyone's life. Penny Vincenzi has written a wonderful book and I can hardly wait to move on to the next two in the series; Something Dangerous and Into Temptation which promise even more tales about the Lytton family.

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